Youth Story: Kevin

Youth
6/8/2012 12:34pm

I came out as a lesbian during my senior year of high school. It was difficult, but I had a few close friends who I could count on.  However, a few months later, most of my close friends moved away. I was still struggling with my identity, and I had no one to talk to.  I became very depressed and I nearly hit rock bottom.

I heard about The Attic, and I decided to check it out.  I came to the Attic nervous and "directionally challenged". I had never gone to Center City alone, and I was quiet around people I didn’t know. The staff must have sensed it. They were polite and quietly reassuring.  The people I met there were too. They let me be as quiet or talkative as I wanted to be.  Either way, I was welcome.  Eventually, I became a regular. 

Then, my life changed again. As I spent more and more time around people who accepted me for who I was, I felt myself physically relax. I felt parts of my body loosen, and my thinking did too.  It was therapeutic.  Just by being there and participating in Attic programming I began to get comfortable with myself. My mood began to improve, and I actually started to make goals for my future. I had never once felt like a part of something, and then suddenly I was.  For me, this was comfort.

However, I was still struggling with something -- not quite knowing what it was. At The Attic, we sometimes go around the room and everyone says which pronoun they prefer to use and be called. At first, I thought it was obvious, but then I realized what this really meant: pronouns weren’t just givens. Someone who was born a girl could use male pronouns, and vice versa.  This was the first time I realized gender was mutable. Over the months, I realized that male pronouns felt right for me. I slid into them like a pair of worn jeans. It felt perfect.

Over the last year, after a lot of thought and talking to my friends and counselor, I came out as transgender.  This is now. But I am not over. My "jeans" may fit, but that doesn’t mean everything is ok again. I still have a whole world out there, some of it hostile. It can get hard. Sometimes I just need to be in a space where I can just be Kevin, whatever that means, and can be supported. For me, that space is the Attic.

I have always had a lot to say, but there are some things I find myself repeating over and over again. One such thing is whenever I meet someone who looks like they need a safe space --the way I know I needed one, a place for community, support, and growth, I find one particular action sentence inevitably comes out of my mouth: "Go to the Attic;  I think you might find something there you'll like. And it might even be you."