Resilience Comes in All Genders: Five Stories of Strong Trans Youth
Featured Image Source: Hilary Swift for The New York Times
It's Pride Month 2k21, but there are plenty of reasons trans youth aren't feeling the love. Several states introduced bills–some of which that have become laws–that limit access to gender affirming healthcare and admittance into sports teams that align with their gender identity. It's hard out here for these kids that are just trying to exist.
That is why it's so important to celebrate the resilience, bravery, and general badassery of trans youth. Here are five recent stories of trans youth refusing to take discrimination sitting down.
Source: Hilary Swift for The New York Times
New York Times, Michael Gold
“We are here to claim space,” Mx. Avory said to a crowd that cheered them on. “We are here to say that we have a right not just to survive, but to thrive; to demand that our movements show up and center us.”
This article not only documents some truly life-affirming quotes from several transgender youths loudly proclaiming that they are strong despite the, well, everything, but it also features some gorgeous portraiture from the crowd. Over and over these kids are saying: you may be trying to legislate me away, but I'm here, and I'm resilient.
Chris Hayes, MSNBC
"The most remarkable thing is when we do get a child on proper medication, whether puberty blockers or hormone therapy. That next visit, the three month visit to check labs and check in, is one of my favorites. To a person, the child or teen–who was secluded, didn't talk to anybody, would look at the floor and mumble, you couldn't hear them, they wouldn't make eye contact–they come back just brighter. They'll speak loudly, they'll look at you, they'll sit up straight. It revolutionizes who they are. They get to become themselves. It isn't even that they become someone different, they just get to be themselves. Parents see that, and that convinces them that this is the right track."
In late May 2021, Chris Hayes interviewed Dr. Izzy Lowell, who provides telemedicine services to trans youth in the greater southeast portion of the United States. Beyond giving a great summation of why the laws being introduced are misguided and answering Hayes' questions, Lowell also offers several great stories about the people she's treated who have thrived post-treatment.
And by and large, that intolerance, that discrimination, and that hatred come from adults. Very rarely, if ever, did we see it from their peers. Especially in sports because Mack and Sarah and Andraya, they're beacons to their peers. They're adored in their high schools and people like them and they have a lot of friends. And that's not to diminish how tough their journeys are. When you're 17-years-old and just trying to run or wrestle, and media pundits are showering hatred all over you nightly, that's pretty complex.
Quote from the Salon.com article, "In 'Changing the Game,' young trans athletes become 'a beacon for their own community.'"
To the surprise of nobody at all, I am a huge fan of documentaries. This one, from the director of "Superheroes" and "Becoming Bulletproof," documents the lives of three different trans youth athletes. An honest look, it covers both the trials they have gone through and their successes as they take what the world has given them and wrestle it into submission (only sometimes literally).
Source: Internet Archive
How the bulletin board systems, email lists and Geocities pages of the early internet created a place for trans youth to find one another and explore coming out
Beth Daley, The Conversation
Most importantly, for trans youths who couldn’t be themselves in real life, the homepage was a space for self-expression. On their pages, they could use gendered colors and graphics without fear of outing themselves, or post photos wearing the clothes they felt comfortable in without facing physical harassment.
This piece is absolutely wonderful for a few reasons. First, it's a delightful look into how trans youth in the early internet years found and helped each other in a time when there were less visibly trans and GNC people in the culture. Second, it does a great job of introducing the counterargument to the idea that growing numbers of children who identify as trans or GNC are simply following a "fad." And, finally, it serves as a delightful time portal for myself, who has been on the internet for way too long, from way too early an age. RIP to my first prodigy.net e-mail address, jarjarbit. That should say enough.
Kai Shappley testifies before the Texas State Senate Committee on State Affairs
Kai Shappley on YouTube
I love ballet, math, science and geology. [...] I don't like spending my free time asking adults to make good choices. I've been having to explain myself since I was 3 or 4 years old. Texas legislators have been attacking me since Pre-K. I'm in fourth grade now. [...] It makes me sad that some politicians use trans kids like me to get votes from people who hate me just because I exist. God made me. God loves me for who I am and God does not make mistakes. You should be careful how you treat the least of these.
"Speaking truth to power" is a fun idea we in the community like to throw around; I've never seen it executed in a more brilliant way than this instance of tiny badass Kai Shappley giving her testimony in the Texas state senate. There's just something so visually correct about this very small little girl eviscerate the grown adults who are trying to take her health and identity away and calmly telling them that she isn't going down in silence, without a fight.