We Are the Youth participant Jesse reports back on Trans Health Conference

Jesse, (one of the first-ever We Are the Youth participants!), attended the Trans Health Conference earlier this month. He blogs here about his experience.

Jesse and friends having fun at the Trans Health Conference in Philadelphia

From May 30th until June 2nd I was in Philadelphia for the Trans* Health Conference. It’s the largest transgender* conference in the entire world with three days of lectures, sessions and booths. The youth had a very large number at the conference, with lots of groups run by young people.

Ryan Cassata, a We Are the Youth participant, was there not only as a representative of his music and his efforts for the community, but also as a keynote speaker. He spoke about sexism and shaming in the trans* community and why he thinks its important for everyone to respect each others identities because there is no one way to be trans*.

There was also a teen space with many fun activities and games for the younger set. My good friend Loan Tran gave a excellent speech inspired by our GLSEN training about safe schools and what we can do to address our own issues in our schools. In the same space Drexel (my future home), a college that is located in Philadelphia had their LGBT-identified club, FUSE, do a workshop about action on campus and how to get activism rolling. (more…)

A great write-up for We Are the Youth!

A lovely article posted on Change.org this morning! Thanks Maia!

Jesse, 15, New York, NY

It’s only been three months since I came out as transgender, but it’s been a long journey. When I was very young, I’d use male pronouns for myself and was really adamant about it. But then I realized I was a girl, and fit the stereotype. When I went to a transgender meet-up group a few months ago and talked to transgender people, I realized how they felt was exactly how I felt.

Me and my friend were brainstorming boys’ name ideas. He was like, “Oh my God, I have the best idea,” and thought of Jesse. So I went to Starbucks and said my name was Jesse and they totally believed me. It was awesome and I just kept doing it again. I changed my name on Facebook. A few people asked about it, and I said, “Oh, it’s an inside joke.” I’ve told a few people, and I want to come out on my own terms.

My sister and my friends who know call me Jesse. My parents don’t. One of my friends calls me Mr. Anonymous.

At the beginning of freshman year I came out as a lesbian at school, but I’m not out as trans yet. I go to a religious school, and I’m the first openly queer person there. I didn’t know that I was the first one until I came out. I was like, “Oh my God, I’m so scared.” And I saw it as an opportunity. I had to help start the Gay-Straight Alliance. But they don’t publicize the things we do and won’t let us be an official club.

The first time I ever, ever came out as gay, I was 10. Everyone in my bunk at camp was talking about boys. I had a revelation, and was like, “I like girls.” I just kind of did it. I didn’t think of the implications. It’s a very supportive place. The girls were like, “Who do you have a crush on?” I dated this girl at camp a few years ago, and everyone found out. My younger sister came up to me and was like, “Are you gay?” It was hard for me to know she knew before I told her. My mom already knew I was gay. I was like, “Remember when I was 11, and I said I was a lesbian?” and she’s like, “I don’t care.”

When I said I was trans it was a different story. My parents were like, “You don’t know what you’re doing.” My sister tried to stand up for me.

I don’t think I’ll go on hormones until I’m at least in college. My parents are not on board yet. My parents took away my binder. My mom’s like, “I don’t know the health risks of this.”

I feel very uncomfortable right now. I know there are very few people who really respect me. No one will look at me as a guy. It’s hard for me to accept, but I know I have to give my parents time.

As told to Diana Scholl.
Photo by Laurel Golio, taken at the Center Lane Gay Prom, Yonkers, NY, 2010
To tell your story, email hello@wearetheyouth.org