I always knew I was different but I didn’t know I had the power to be who I really am, until I learned about the word “transgender.” I was 16 when I found out what that really meant and I realized that it described me.
Transgender is a term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.
From as young as I can remember, I always felt like I was a girl, but the messages I constantly received from those around me, particularly my conservative family members, were that society didn’t consider me as female.
During high school, I became so focused on my transition – and also struggled with family conflict and homelessness – that I eventually had to leave school.
I spent the next years working and trying to fit in with “regular” cis-gendered society, and trying not to draw too much attention to myself. I suffered from anxiety. Everyday I felt like I had to stay vigilant and fight for who I am.
When I came to Civicorps, my social skills were so rusty. I was afraid people here would judge me, like so many other places. Little by little I opened up to staff and learned that I could trust people with my story. For the first time, I felt safe being my true self.
I even accompanied Alan, Civicorps’ Executive Director, to the National LGBTQ Task Force Conference in Philadelphia as a youth representative. It was my first trip away from Oakland and I was terrified at first, but I knew I wanted to learn from the LGBT community how to be an advocate for other trans youth.
I’m telling my story now because I want everyone to know that Civicorps is a safe place for trans students.
Also, I want to tell other trans youth that it takes a lot of strength to transition. Not everyone will be supportive, but eventually, you see rainbows and sunshine: things get better.
For those who want to be supportive toward trans youth, I would say appreciate the person for who they are. Just saying something like “thank you for being you;” that would make a difference to someone who is struggling.
I’m so happy I found a community here at Civicorps where I can be me – the real me.
Donate now to show students like Natale that they have your support!