From a very young age I have felt unsatisfied with my appearance and how I was perceived by others. My entire life I have, for the most part, unconsciously repressed thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that were deemed unacceptable. I didn’t really know anything about gender identity/expression, or the difference between sex and gender, until highschool. It was hard processing what I had felt, as my childhood wasn’t the greatest. I grew up with a mother who was an abusive drug addict and a father who was an immigrant drug dealer. My father was deported before I could turn five, leaving my spiraling mother a single parent of two. At the age of eight I was sexually assaulted by a family member from then I began to struggle with extreme mental health issues. I didn’t acknowledge or even process the trauma, and overload of emotions that I had resulted in me battling with self-harm. I concealed myself from the world constantly feeling ashamed and lost. School was extremely difficult. I was picked on ever since I could remember, causing me to have social anxiety. When I entered middle school I was rehomed with my mothers immediate family, the journey moving house to house had just started. Seventh grade I shaved half of my head relieving some of the dysphoria I didn’t know at the time. I was put into therapy once my guardians realized what had been going on. Therapy allowed me to feel validated, recognized, understood – something I had never felt before. I started to feel comfortable enough to start experimenting with gender expression. Eighth grade I realized I liked girls and thought they were more than just pretty. I had my first girlfriend that year, we broke up and stayed best friends. That summer, before my freshman year, we went to San Diego Pride, it had been full of many firsts. I met new people and felt new things, after that weekend I felt different; more confident. My freshman year I came out as genderfluid, someone who fluctuates between more than one gender, or between having a gender and not having one. People mocked me and everything they could think of in terms of gender and sexuality. I chose to overlook what they said and move forward with my exploration with my identity. I came to the conclusion, while having a breakdown, my long curly hair just wasn’t for me and chopped it all [off] with a pair of scissors. Three days later I asked my guardian at the time, Nancy, my aunt, to take me to get a “Men’s” haircut. I had never felt so much relief in my thirteen years of life. That moment I realized I didn’t want to be seen as a female but male. But, wait. Me, TRANS? Will people even recognize me? I dove headfirst into the research and lives of other transgender individuals, seeing my own story reflected in their words. I wasn’t a freak or a “burden,” as the leader of our country likes to say. This was the validation I so needed so I could be sure of the emotions I had been feeling my whole life. I started to go by Leo, that lasted for a couple months no one really used other than my close friends. I didn’t really like the name so I chose Liam. It fit, it felt right. My friends and I started going to the Hill Crest Youth center, dedicated to the needs LGBTQ and non-binary youth, as well as youth living with HIV. I became closer to who at the time identified as a female, we started to date. My sophomore year, I connected with a fellow trans individual at my school. He gave me my first binder and currently plays a big role in my life. I joined GSA that year and started being active within the LGBTQ+ community, [and] my love for activism grew. My partner started questioning their gender identity and sexuality in return making me become more educated on other gender identities and sexualites. Supporting them and showing them how comfortable someone can be or become with themselves had helped them come to the conclusion they were trans themselves. The following summer we broke up, I learned a lot from that relationship and what non-toxic love is really like. He made me realize I wanted to work within my community and strive to gain knowledge as well as help others like us. Which led [to] me becoming the Gender sexuality alliance president my junior year. Being the president made me feel important and like I can make change and help educate others and myself better than I could before. I made a step and I started to identify as nonbinary, a person whose gender is not male or female, and use many different terms to describe themselves. A lot of people have it in their head that we wake up and decide to be trans. I want people to know that it’s not a choice. Nothing has happened in my life to make me trans. I was born trans. My family not being as supportive at the time made me seek out a gender therapist in order to make my identity recognized, and [t]he urgency on my transition. It didn’t last. My guardian disliked the therapist but started to call me by my name and use my
pronouns, she eventually even got other family members to stop using my deadname. My sophomore year I had [an] internship with San Diego Pride’s communications and marketing team. It was fulfilling and gave me new goals to achieve for my future career as well as insight on how working within the community feels like. With that opportunity I learned a lot of new things and came out with a different outlook on office jobs.