By Audrey Ligier
Ever since I was little I knew that I was a girl. I remember when I was younger I used to tie bed sheets into dresses and pretend my knight costume was a princess gown. In kindergarten, the principal of the school pulled my parents into their office and told them to convince me that I was a boy, so the following year they pulled me out of that school and put me into an art school hoping that it would be better. I didn’t know why I was pulled out of that school until much later.
The kids at my new school made fun of me for the “girl” things I enjoyed, like bringing my mermaid toys into show-and-tell or dressing in “girl” clothing for my theme days, so I went into the closet. I went from feeling normal to feeling like an outcast. At the age of 14, I couldn’t hide anymore and came out again as Audrey and with new confidence. I have an interesting family life, with one parent who accepts me as a girl and the other not accepting me for being my true authentic self at all. Since I live with my dad who accepts me, I wanted to learn about other transgender youth with more extreme cases of parents who don’t accept them, especially during COVID-19.
In 2020, there are still many people who don’t support the LGBTQ+ community, especially the transgender community due to their political and/or religious views. When coming out, there is a lot of anxiety around the support of your parents, and it’s hard when the parents aren’t accepting. Twenty-year-old Mitchell Callaway says “they [his parents] were raised in an old fashioned home, believing anything LGBTQ+ is wrong. . . even though I have plenty of supportive friends the people who should be there for me the most refuse to do so.” With the new coronavirus pandemic, everyone was forced to stay inside due to the quarantine, making tensions higher in households of transgender youth with unaccepting parents. Sixteen-year-old Gargoyle says “they really just ignore me now. I go over for school and she’s [his mom] definitely been purposely pushing more femme stuff on me, but otherwise she ignores me.” In more extreme cases, a transgender individual with unaccepting parents may even end up homeless.
The National Center for Transgender Equality states that “one in five transgender individuals have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.” This is a huge issue that the transgender community faces every day.
Mariah Moore, the co-founder and co-director of House of Tulip, a house for homeless transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals in New Orleans says,“The transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) community face so many barriers especially when it comes to housing, employment, obtaining gender-affirming identity documents, getting into care and staying into care, food insecurity…. the list goes on and on. I believe that we can reduce or erase many of these barriers by simply addressing housing first.”
With coronavirus cases on the rise again, quarantining has been really hard for trans people across the country. A 19-year-old anonymous girl in New Orleans states “living in a homeless shelter makes it pretty much impossible [to practice] social distancing. As well as living with seven people in a small house. So I guess it’s mentally hard with having essentially a sword held over me at all times.”
Today, there is still a fight for equality in the transgender community and there’s still a long way to go before the stigma that surrounds this community is erased. Being transgender was never a choice, but who me and my community are as people. The acceptance of parents has a huge impact on you mentally and physically and without it, it may lead to depression and even suicide. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, done by UCLA, “81.7 percent of respondents reported ever seriously thinking about suicide in their lifetimes, while 48.3 percent had done so in the past year. In regard to suicide attempts, 40.4 percent reported attempting suicide at some point in their lifetimes, and 7.3 percent reported attempting suicide in the past year.” To the parents of transgender youth, if your child comes out to you, support them in anyway you can because we need you all more than you know. The pandemic has made tensions higher in indifferent households, and it’s hard, but we will get through this stronger than ever before.