My Toastmasters Icebreaker Speech

Alexander (Sascz) Herrmann
Published in
4 min readSep 8, 2021

As a member of Toastmasters International, I was asked to give an “icebreaker” speech of four to six minutes at my local club. The following is the speech that I wrote and delivered.

Hi! I’m Sascz, which is short for Alexander, my legal name. I’m super nervous about giving this speech, so I thought that for my self-introduction I’d show the gumption to put us all on the same footing and make all of us super nervous by talking about something that’s very controversial right now. My hope, though, is that by the time I’m ready to depart this planet, I’ll have seen a world where it’s not so controversial anymore. That subject is gender identity.

I’m legally a man now, but I was assigned female at birth. That’s the technical term for saying that I was a bouncing baby girl. Well, not so much bouncing as being, pretty much all the time, very upset and unhappy. One of the first things I remember saying is, “I want to be a boy.”

Back in the 60s, nobody talked about things like that. It was barely legal to be gay, never mind transgender. Any time these words came out of my mouth, the adults around me shut me down. My family was also struggling a little bit financially, so I learned not to want things I couldn’t have, and eventually one of those things was being a boy. I stopped saying it, although I didn’t stop thinking it.

Puberty brought to me something that a lot of girls would have considered a blessing: a very female figure. As a teen, I had a perfect hourglass figure of 34–24–34. I didn’t care. I didn’t get along with other girls, and had always longed to be taken seriously by the boys as a peer. Maybe if I’d LOOKED nerdier it would have helped, but with my pocket Venus figure and my big blue eyes, I was immediately put in a box that I spent the next several decades trying to climb out of.

Having kids young pushed back my career by about ten years, but when I finally broke into the business world, I fell into what has turned out to be a very much male dominated field: Information Security. There are very few women in this field, especially at a very technical level. I excelled at everything I did, but I was very, very aware that I wasn’t getting paid the same as my male colleagues, and my very loud insistence on being treated the same caused a good deal of trouble.

I continued to have problems forming friendships. Men didn’t want to be my “friends”, and I couldn’t get along with women in the way that seemed to be expected. I confess I didn’t understand women at all. I’m not trying to generalize — obviously every individual is different — but there was something missing between other women and me. I just couldn’t relate to any of what was considered the normal female experience. Even the way I parented was not typically “mom”-like. More and more, I felt like something was wrong with me. Most of the time, I literally wanted to die. I couldn’t imagine going on like this.

Part of the problem is that I couldn’t imagine fitting into a typical male existence either. I’m not athletic or into sports. I like to dress up in cute stuff, and I like to wear makeup and do my hair. I’m a huge drama queen. I didn’t think I could ever fit in anywhere. Even though, by this time, I knew what transgender people were, I didn’t think I fit into a binary gender role, but I didn’t know that that was okay.

The Internet literally saved my life. I’ve always hung with a younger crowd, and some of the people I knew self identified as nonbinary — neither 100% male or female. Over several years, I realized that I didn’t have to see myself as a particular type of person in order to be a man. I came out socially in early 2018, began taking Testosterone a year later, and legally transitioned — changed my name and gender on my IDs — at the beginning of 2020. By the end of 2021, I’ll have completed the first of a series of surgeries to make my childhood dream and true identity — I WANT TO BE A BOY — come true.

Has every step of the way been easy? Heck to the no. I was fired for cause for the first time in my career at the end of 2019 for insisting on using the men’s room — and sometimes, using the restroom is scary because of the looks I get. I get misgendered all the time because, to a lot of people, I still look and sound like a woman (I don’t think so, but I guess other people do). There are times when I feel I’ve let my assigned-at-birth gender down by not being A Woman In Cybersecurity anymore. My mom is sad that I’m no longer her little girl. But I know I’ve made the right decision, because I’m not a combination of angry and sad all the time these days. I no longer think there must be something wrong with me. I finally like who I am.

I’m Sascz. I’m a man. Hello!



Alexander (Sascz) Herrmann

I’m a disabled transmasculine cybersecurity specialist living in Berkshire County, MA, USA. I like to write, sing, do fiber art, and play video games.