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College roommates had no idea the lasting impact they would have on each other

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Time now for StoryCorps. In fall of 2016, Andre Thomas and Trey Phillips both enrolled in Connecticut College. Andre grew up in the Midwest. Trey came from Los Angeles. They met when they became college roommates.

TREY PHILLIPS: I had flown in by myself. I remember opening the door and seeing a whole bunch of faces.

ANDRE THOMAS: It was my mom, my dad and my grandparents. All four of them were in the room all day.

PHILLIPS: That tiny space. And then your family already Knew my name, too (laughter).

THOMAS: Yeah, you had already been adopted at that point.

PHILLIPS: Yeah. I didn't really have my family to be as supportive as I needed them to be. It was rough. But, like, when I would come back to the room and you would just come back and I would have someone to talk to, I felt better. And then there were, like, random people coming up to me like, are you Trey? And I'd be like, yeah. Oh, hey, Trey. What's up? I got that a lot, actually, and it was you. I think you told everyone I was a great roommate. That would actually make my day and they didn't even know it.

THOMAS: Most first years to come could feel alone just because they're transitioning into college period, but you had another layer to yours.

PHILLIPS: When did you find out that I was trans?

THOMAS: I don't think you told me.

PHILLIPS: I didn't?

THOMAS: No. But I think I asked you what pronouns you wanted to be referred by, which is also the first time that I had ever asked anyone that.

PHILLIPS: Before me, have you ever known anyone who was trans?

THOMAS: I don't think so, but I could. I don't know. What's funny is that all of the questions I asked you, I was so nervous to ask, but you answered all of them.

PHILLIPS: Yeah.

THOMAS: And I think once I got all the answers, I just went back to bed.

PHILLIPS: Yeah.

THOMAS: I was like, all right, thanks. Good night.

PHILLIPS: (Laughter).

THOMAS: See you tomorrow.

PHILLIPS: It felt good because that was the first time anyone had actually wanted to know about how I was feeling, so I could tell that you cared. I appreciated that.

THOMAS: Yeah. I mean, you say that you have a lot to thank me for, but that was the main thing I had to thank you for, was showing me, someone who's always struggled with the whole macho thing, that you just create whatever you want. Being around my dad and my grandfathers and uncles and going to the barbershop, everyone's talking about sports and cars and women. And I'm like, I just came to get a haircut. I didn't really want to talk about the game last night because I didn't watch it, and I won't watch any of the other ones that you're going to talk about. So you just showed me that it was OK for me to like theater and acting and cooking. And that's when I knew, like, I can do whatever I want. And if someone doesn't classify me as masculine or whatever, who cares?

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "SAGE THE HUNTER")

PHILLIPS: At the end of the day, you have to look yourself in the mirror, and you have to lay down in your bed by yourself, and you have to be OK with you.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "SAGE THE HUNTER")

MARTÍNEZ: That was Trey Phillips and Andre Thomas. They remain close. Andre has a career in theater. Trey recently moved back to LA with his fiancee. Their StoryCorps conversation is archived at the Library of Congress.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "SAGE THE HUNTER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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