What It Means to be a Transgender Youth in Small Town America

As a teacher at the secondary level, I see transgender youth every single day. I see some of the struggles they face in the classroom, in the halls, in their communities. 

I was inspired to write this just to show the challenges of a transgender individual, specifically in small town America, a place I have come to know well during my student teaching experience. Though short, I hope it serves as a small slice of their lives, or at least brings some sense of clarity, or thought on this often difficult and controversial subject. 

What It Means to be a Transgender Youth in Small Town America

It means weird glances. Over the shoulder glances, when it doesn’t seem as obvious. Or blatant stares, for the ones who don’t know any better. Or do, and stare anyways.

It means whispers. Quiet, or loud enough to hear. Sometimes side conversations, overheard in the hallways or the lounge during lunch. Both students and teachers. Both don’t understand.

It means a struggle, every morning, to get ready. To stand brave in your own skin. To wear what you want, what you’ve wanted to school, the grocery store, the movie theatre, the gas station.

It means the faces. Of family. Of friends. Of teachers. Of people who’ve known you. Before.

Of those who don’t understand why. Of those who don’t understand that the answer to ‘why’ is because. Is because this is how it should be, should have been. That this is how it is. What feels right. The way things have been, inside. Not out.

It means a decision to say yes. Yes. This is who I am. This is who I’m supposed to be. This is who I will be. Now. Yesterday. Tomorrow. Every single day. It is the decision to say yes. Yes with confidence. This is me. This is my life. Yes, I am happy.

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