The week of Nov. 13 was Trans Awareness week this year, leading up to Transgender Day of Remembrance on Monday, Nov. 20, which honors and memorializes victims of anti-transgender violence. So it was the perfect time for GENERAL HOSPITAL actress Cassandra James (Terry) to help raise awareness by speaking out about her experience coming to terms with her identity as a trans woman.
Born to a white American father and a Chinese mother in Vancouver, Canada, James had a difficult relationship with her father as she was growing up but was much closer to her mother. “She was everything,” she recalled to the L.A. Blade. “My whole childhood, she was very protective of my femininity. She just allowed me to be feminine in my boyhood.”
Attending an all-boys school also proved difficult for James, who was struggling to understand her own gender identity. “I was bullied,” she revealed. “I was so physically abused. I got thrown into lockers and pushed, and my pencil cases got thrown out windows. There was so much name-calling. When I was eight years old, my friends came up to me and said, ‘We can’t be friends with you anymore because we get picked on when we are with you.’”
Thankfully, James found a new group of friends who were also effeminate young boys and also had the support of her mother as she came to terms with the fact that she wasn’t a young gay boy. “I have so much empathy for my younger self,” the actress explained. “I was the only little girl wandering the halls of this all-boys school.”
Although therapists offered some bad advice to her mother, James is grateful that she never listened and supported her, even taping a documentary on queer teenagers for her daughter which led to her coming out. She even experienced a breakthrough with her father during therapy where they were finally able to communicate.
James first came out as gay, then in November 2015, as transgender. “It was so fascinating I didn’t even really use the word transgender,” she confided. “I used to do drag. I told my mom that Cassandra was going to be a part of my life forever and not just a character that I played.”