September 12, 2013

Finding the Courage to Come Out

GLSEN Student Ambassadors

GLSEN Student Ambassador KaneMy school and family have always been accepting and tolerant of just about anything, but I was still scared to talk to my grandparents and teachers about being trans*. My confidence in myself was never very high and I was always scared of being laughed at and told that I was wrong, an abomination, a good-for-nothing.

But when applying to be a GLSEN Student Ambassador and to participate in the Media Summit this past August, I knew immediately that I would be accepted, respected and included without my gender identity being a problem or an obstacle.

Everyone who attended the summit was kind, full of positive energy and passionate about what GLSEN really is here for: to make schools safer for LGBTQ youth.

It’s not a surprise that after coming home, all of their positive influences had rubbed off on me.

I was more confident and comfortable and a lot of my anxieties about being a trans guy had been quieted for once. I had always been worried that I was letting the rest of the trans* community down, that I was being trans* wrong, that I didn’t deserve to go by the name I was comfortable with and the pronouns that had finally fit into the puzzle of who I was.

But after the summit, I felt a wave of relief. The feeling of “I can do whatever I want and I deserve to be comfortable” settled in.

I was allowed to be me.

So I came out to my paternal grandparents and told them what was going on, and they immediately jumped on board. I started wondering, “Why was I so scared to talk to them about this? These are two people who have loved me since the day I was born and have always accepted me. Why was I so scared to be honest with them?”

That experience added to my confidence, so the day before school started, I sent one of my teachers a Facebook message explaining my situation and asking for her help and support. She immediately got back to me and said she’d love to help me out and we started to figure out a plan for school.

The first day of school, I pulled all my teachers aside and talked to them, told them which name to use and which pronouns I go by. Most of them I had had before and they knew me, they respected me, and they agreed. I talked to a school administrator and she told me that she would email all of my teachers to let them know that she was backing me up, that this wasn’t some joke and that it was for real. She was going to email my PE teacher to make sure I got to use the right locker room.

We also talked about what to do when it came to harassment: that I would have to report even the littlest of problems due to my situation, that I did not deserve even the littlest of problems, and that it did not just “come with what you’re doing here.” We talked about how my school has always been a safe school for the most part, without much bullying to begin with, and that maybe that was why I had chosen now to come out, because I felt like I’d be safe at school.

It occurred to me that I was one of the lucky ones: someone whose school environment allowed for me to be out in the open, instead of hiding in the shadows. That’s why GLSEN’s work is so near and dear to me. It didn’t matter how accepting my school was—it was still a challenge to come out and face it. At schools that are more hostile and less accepting than mine, coming out is so much more of an obstacle that is so hard to climb. GLSEN is making an important difference to students like me who are already having a hard enough time.

The last thing my school administrator told me as she shook my hand left me with a sense of hope for the upcoming school year.

“I’m proud of you.”

Kane T. is a GLSEN Student Ambassador. 

 

Camille Beredjick

About Camille Beredjick

Camille Beredjick is the Digital Communications Associate at GLSEN - the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

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