One thing that I’ve always valued is community. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had different communities that I feel supported and safe with: people I sang and danced with, my extended family, neighbors, camps I attended, etc. I consider these communities to be pivotal to my development into the person I am today. I feel confident and autonomous, and also connected to my roots partly because I grew up with a strong community of neighbors who I visited independently from a young age. Much in the same way, I started thinking about my gender because I attended a few different camps that valued self-expression and understanding and talked openly about these concepts. I felt safe enough in those camp communities to explore something so vulnerable.
When I started thinking and understanding my gender better, I learned that I’d always known how I felt, I just didn’t have the language to talk about it. I could finally talk about how I didn’t experience gender, didn’t want to have anything to do with, how I liked the ambiguity of they/them pronouns that weren’t making assumptions. It was so liberating. It was hard to have people not recognize me for who I was. Especially in these communities that I’ve grown up around my whole life, people didn’t easily switch to my correct pronouns or remember my gender. All I wanted was to be see for who I was, but they were so used to seeing me for who they thought I had been.
I am still working to have people understand and it’s been really hard. A lot of relationships have grown tense because of how important this is to me. But the flip side of that is that I’ve really learned who I can lean on and trust to support me. I also have a sense of what communities can do to make trans youth feel safe and heard or what makes us feel less safe and heard. I want to share that with others so they can be as supportive as possible.