Sloan, Age 18, Minneapolis, Minnesota
My mom took me to get my first binder. It’s from a sex shop boutique in Milwaukee that’s really cute. When you first go in there’s this stand of just vibrators. I can’t believe my mom went in with me because she’s kind of weird about sex stuff. Like we went back to the car and she was just giggling, but that was a fun experience. She kinda saw how happy it made me and how much better I felt about everything.
My extended family on one side is conservative Baptist and the other side is Catholic but my parents, they’re both pretty religious, but not crazy religious. I guess I got lucky in that lottery.
When I first started using they/their/them pronouns and going by Sloan, I had a friend who probably says more than he should sometimes, and he started asking my sister how she felt about it and apparently she started crying. When I heard that, it just broke my heart. (more…)
Jacob, Age 20, Minneapolis, Minnesota
I knew I was gay from a very young age, probably as early as second grade when I knew that I was different from other people. I could not pinpoint it, but I could feel it. And that’s the only way that I can honestly describe it. Just that inkling, you know? Something in the back of your head that would just bug you all day. And unfortunately that didn’t help with my childhood because I was overweight, and I was artistic so that triple-whammy took a toll on me mentally and physically.
When I came out to my dad he did not flinch. He said, “You’re still the same person to me. And I’ll love you always.” And it was the exact words that I needed to hear. He actually offered to tell my mother for me, and I accepted his request, and she took it incredibly hard. Not so much in the fact that, “Oh, my son’s gay.” It’s the fact that she realized how much I was suffering for the entirety of my life and how much I had gone through. And because I was hurting, she was hurting.
It honestly surprised me how accepting my parents were because you go through living the majority of your life thinking that you’re gonna be rejected, and you’re gonna be denied, and all these things. And then hearing it for what it really is was honestly the greatest relief of my life. (more…)
Qwill, Age 20, Northfield, Minnesota
I was kind of weird in high school. Maybe not weird but quirky, I suppose. In high school I felt like I was always on the outside of friend groups trying to get in. I never really felt like I was part of a community where I was really wanted. Then I came to Carleton and I made these really good friends. Now I’m still quirky but everyone else is quirky also.
When I applied to Carleton I went by my old name. I haven’t changed my name legally or anything, but I’ve been going through the process of trying to change my name completely on campus. So when I came here I introduced myself as Qwill. It’s listed as a nickname but sometimes professors don’t print out that roster, so I have to correct them in class when they’re doing attendance, which I don’t really like.
Qwill is actually the name of a character in a murder mystery book series. I read the books a lot in late middle school, and then I think I just picked it for some camp name or something and really liked it and then, yeah. Also, I picked it just because it’s a gender-neutral name and it’s not really a name where anyone has any connotations as to what gender it belongs to. (more…)
I’m proud to be a girl and proud to be a transgender girl. I wouldn’t change myself at all. Being transgender makes me who I am; a strong person, a confident person. Being transgender gives me my personality.
I’m the youngest of four siblings and the baby of the family. My family just treated me like anyone else growing up. They taught me that everyone has a special and unique trait about them,and that mine is that I have a girl brain and a boy body. I knew I was a girl from the time I was a toddler, and my family always taught me that being transgender was okay and I should be proud of who I am.
As I got older I learned about how some people treated their transgender children, and I was shocked. I couldn’t understand how someone would leave their child and throw them on the street. I was always taught you give your kid unconditional love and if you don’t, something’s wrong with you, for real. It’s your child and you really have to be there for them all the time.
One of the things my parents did was advocate for me when I was banned from girls’ soccer team, and I had to play on the boys’ soccer team. My family knew I had the skills for soccer and should be playing. My mom and dad spoke to a lot of people. I don’t know how they did it, but as a result they passed a trans-inclusive policy for all transgender people in America. When you’re 8-years old you’re not talking to the U.S. Soccer Federation.
That changed me a lot, playing with the boys. It lowered my self-esteem and made me feel like I was a boy all over again. I really just didn’t like that. A lot of times I would just be sitting on the field chewing on my nails or twiddling my fingers. Normally I’m better than that.
Now that I play with the girls, I like soccer again. I like to do a lot of things. I play lacrosse. I’m interested in writing and creating and things like that. I like to do charcoal portraits and pencil portraits. I used to act, sing and dance. I like to write.. I don’t really like school; it’s okay. It’s not that I get bullied or anything. I’m just not the most social person.
It’s very overwhelming here at the Philly Trans-Health Conference. But it’s a lot of fun. I get to meet a lot of other kids and interact with them. It’s not something you get to do every day so I definitely take advantage. It’s one of the best times of the year.
I wish I saw my friends from the conference more. We share the same experience. We can talk about our medications and our bodies without being too uncomfortable.
I just want to let transkids to know not to be afraid to step out of the shadows. I do whatever I can to help other transkids. I speak a lot, at a lot of places, a lot of big events. I was on Oprah’s channel. I didn’t get to meet her, but she tweeted about me. I also did two 20/20 specials with Barbara Walters, Rosie O’Donnell’s show the Dr. Drew Show, and many other TV programs and magazines. It’s a lot of fun and it’s mostly just about sharing my story.
I share my story to help other people. I know people need someone to be a role model and help them along the way.
As told to Diana Scholl.
Photo by Laurel Golio, taken in Philadelphia, PA, 2013
To share your story, email email@example.com
Julius, Age 19, Las Vegas, Nevada
I was two years old when I came to the United States. My visa expired, and I didn’t know I was undocumented. I only realized once I saw all my friends had their driver’s license, and I couldn’t get one. I’m working on getting my work permit so I can finally work. I don’t let it bring me down whatsoever.
I’d like to focus my degree on homeless youth and just help them out. I’d do that for five or six years and then learn how to own a hair salon, and do make-up for movies and celebrities. I’ve learned stuff from YouTube. I’ve done females’ nails. It’s something I’d really like to do. Plan B would be to go to school to be a social worker because of everything that’s happened to me.
I come from a really close-minded town in Pennsylvania. It’s a really small town based on tradition and culture. I lived with my mother, and when I finally came out to her it went downhill. I decided it was time to leave. I came to Las Vegas to meet my dad’s side of the family. I was 18, about to be 19. I wanted a change in my life. (more…)
Emily, Age 20, Minneapolis, Minnesota
I came up here two months ago. I want to become a film major and there are some good schools around here. The plan was to come here, and work a lot to pay for school. Now I’m working at a factory. You’re just assembling and passing on. It’s very boring and there’s no music and it’s just machinery. But you find the nicest, most genuine people there.
I love Minneapolis. I’ve always been kind of a city girl, but I was born and raised in Shakopee, Minnesota, and I lived out in the country. I didn’t wear a shirt until I was seven, and ran with the wolves at night. I’m glad I had the country in me when I was a child because now I’m more of a free spirit as my dad calls me.
My parents are very conservative. My little sister is 12. She asked me, “Who are you voting for?” and asked, “Are you voting yes or no?” She was talking about Amendment 1, to ban gay marriage. I said I’m voting no. She said, “I’m voting yes at kids’ vote.” And she went through a whole bible verse about how God created Adam and Eve. She’s in Catholic school that’s really conservative. (more…)
Zachary, Age 18, Las Vegas, Nevada
The first person I came out to was my mom. The way I came out to her was when I was 11 or 12 she was going through my laptop and brought me into my room. It was porn. She didn’t care I was gay, and she had known for a long time, because of my mannerisms mainly. I was her son either way. When I used to play soccer she said she still has this video where I blocked this goal, and I started waving my arms so flamboyantly. I still haven’t seen that video.
When I first came out to my family, my Aunt Kathy, who is a lesbian, emailed my mom that she knew of this place called The Center in Las Vegas for LGBTQ people that would be good for me. I went kicking and screaming. I didn’t really want anyone to know I was gay at that time. I still thought it was taboo.
Before I came out to my dad, he would always talk down about gays, lesbians, bisexuals, Mexicans, blacks, “those people,” as he called them. One time I was visiting him in Chicago and “All I want to do” by Sugarland came on the radio. He always called it the gay song since only women and gay men liked it. I said I liked it and said I’m gay. He said, “So you really want to play with another man’s penis.” After interrogation, I said I just know I don’t like women. He said, “Maybe you’re asexual.”
Miyuki Catches Us Up!
Dear We Are the Youth Readers,
I hope you’ll forgive me for being quiet for the past couple of months! I’ve been moving quite a bit but am currently at my second to last stop: Berlin, Germany! Less than a couple more months to go and I’m back home in the US. During my silence on the blog, I lived in Seoul, South Korea, Istanbul, Turkey and visited Tokyo, Japan. As you might have seen on the news, things are pretty heated in Turkey at the moment, and I happened to arrive in Istanbul the day before the demonstrations started. On my very first night there, a group of amazing queer activists welcomed me at a local bar on the Asian side of Istanbul, showed me two zines they made (one of which is called “Trans is Beautiful”). I was eager to meet their friends and other queer activists in Istanbul when the very next day, people protesting the demolition of the last central park (Gezi Park) were tear gassed and sprayed with strong water hoses. Needless to say, all of the activists I had met on my first day went to the park in solidarity as many others from all over Istanbul (and the rest of Turkey) did as things got out of control. On the second day of the demonstrations, I tried going to the park but as I tried to leave the metro station, hundreds of crying and screaming people started running down the stairs away from the police brutalities, which I soon felt in my nose, eyes and mouth as a stray tear gas bomb was thrown down into the station. (more…)
The Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference
We Are the Youth participant Emet reports on his experience at the the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference.
Hello again! This is my second year reporting for We are The Youth at the Philly Trans-Health Conference. This year I was lucky enough to have a bigger role in the actual planning and workshops. After I moved to Philadelphia in the fall to start my college career, I joined the planning committee for the conference. I helped with the femme, youth, spirituality and FTM working groups. These working groups help to put out a call for proposals, read each proposal and then pick the workshops they want to see happen. In addition to the planning I was extremely honored to moderate the 2013 youth panel, which contained some of the brightest youth I’ve encountered. It was a very fulfilling experience. This year I was also able to convince the we are the youth team to join me at the conference where they were able to photograph so many youth, including me! The conference itself was wonderful. I went to workshops on everything from young adult trans literature to smoothie making! I also was able to connect to so many people, new friends and old. Overall it was an amazing time and I can’t wait to go again next year.
I think I have one of the most unique RA positions at Lincoln because I am the only RA in a building for grad students. And it’s funny because I’m 19 and most of them are, like, 25 years old. Generally, that’s the age of people I hang out with anyway, but it was just sort of this funny dynamic. I didn’t come out to them about my age, but they just sort of find out. But they have respect for my authority and that I know what I’m talking about. So that’s good. I like being an RA, because it’s sort of setting a positive example for people which I think is also why I’m part of the Queer Nebraska Youth Networks.
I got involved with QNYN because Drew Heckman, who started the Gay Nebraska Youth Network a couple years ago, and I were both speaking on a panel. We were telling our stories and then both started doing these full-body nods about what each other was saying. We both just wanna make sure when no other youth, when they come out, feel discriminated against. Or at least if they do they have a place to deal with it.
It was scary for me to come out. I was a sophomore in high school when I started come out to friends. I went to an all-girls Catholic high school. Some people would think that that would be a bad experience, but actually it was fantastic. My whole class rallied behind me, everybody seemed to be really on fire for activism and the faculty and staff were really supportive.
PDN Photo of the Day!
Big thanks to PDN for featuring a selection of We Are the Youth portraits for “Photo of the Day.” If you have a minute, check out some of the other posts — there’s some really great work on the site.