How To Be You – Dealing with Gender Identity When Your Family Won’t.

Gender identity.

It starts at the T in the LGBT acronym that most people can only guess at. Well, to put it in perspective, can you recall the feeling you get when you wave to someone you thought was waving at you, but it turns out they were looking at someone else and you get that momentary embarrassment, discomfort?
It’s a tiny bit like that, only a million times worse.

Instead of misreading a situation for a moment, you become the misread situation for your entire life. Because you live your life, and feel like the person you want to be, only no one else can look past your body to see the same things you do.
Gender identity is how you feel, and how those feelings can contradict the body you were born in.
Sucks, right?

Being young is hard enough, with experiences in your past that parents and teachers invalidate, rules and assignments in your present that will determine your future, and minimal freedom to help you decide the kind of person you want to be. On top of the chaos of being an average teenager, throw in a mismatched body with predetermined gender roles, and you’ve got a bad situation.

The worst part that comes from all the confusion and questioning is the lack of simple support. All hard times can be worked through when you have people you trust to talk with, to remind you that what you’re going through is natural, and to provide a solid grip on the situation when you need it.

But without that, it’s easy to believe that you are alone.

With Kids Help Phone, there is always a reminder that you are not alone, as cheesy as it sounds, so being able to work with such an amazing organization was a pretty big step for me!

Personally, I was never the type to be public with my struggles, because when you contradict the norm it’s pretty much discouraged to make it known. Society likes to put parameters on things; it’s good to be different, as long as you’re not too different.

As a teen in Canada who doesn’t identify as either male or female, that doesn’t find interest in sexual attraction, and is romantically attracted to any human being on or off the gender scale, I, with many others, lean far outside the line set in the sand.

So why is it that with the sheer amount of teens in the same boat, so many of them feel stranded?

It all goes back to that support thing. It’s simple enough to contact someone a million miles away on twitter, and it’s amazing to build relationships with youth online who give you so much to look forward to, but when you can’t even have reasonable conversations, and some much needed sharing with people in your own family, it’s hard to see the glass as half full.
In fact the glass probably looks half empty and steadily evaporating.

That isn’t how it has to be.
If you’d told me two years ago that I would be supporting the LGBTQ community and practically out to all of my friends, I would’ve laughed pretty obnoxiously. Now I’ve discovered people, friends, and organizations that prove to teens every day, that it is 100% okay to be as different, as colourful and as tasteful as the candy section of Bulk Barn!

This includes the TIGHT + BRIGHT party The Prom Show has set up for a sweet spring (if you can call it that) on Saturday!

Come with friends or fly solo, everyone at the event will be focused on nothing but having a good time and expressing themselves through positive vibes (and cute socks). This event is a stepping stone in building a more supportive and prideful community in the GTA, so come join us! If you’re not a dancer (which will be hard to prove with the amazing music and live performers), then there’s an amazing booth set up especially for gender expression. If you don’t get the chance to wear the things you want, because Daddy’s Little Princess (can you believe he still calls me that?), can’t wear suits, or boys shouldn’t wear dresses, then look no further. The Express Your-Selfie booth, created by The Prom Show and generously supported by Kids Help Phone and Value Village (Ajax), is an amazing loft space with complete privacy, and racks of different clothes for you to try on (and who doesn’t like dressing up?), so that you can take as many selfies as you’d like, rocking the skin you’re in, and no one gets to see them but you (or your instagram feed because it fits your amazing aesthetic).

I look forward to seeing everyone out there, in fact, I’m one of those people who can’t dance but if you asked me, I probably couldn’t say no.

Remember to have fun, express yourself, stay safe and stay sassy!

— Forever Emma