In the past few years, life has changed for me in quite a number of ways. To start with, I was moved from my home in Ontario to Nunavut, in the arctic. It was quite a change on its’ own- going from hot, hot summers and fairly cold winters to cold air almost all the time. Along with that, after I moved up here, my life picked up in a number of ways; my passion for writing and drawing was picked up on and noticed by magazines and publishers, my health (both mental and physical) deteriorated, and I grew as a person.
However, one of the biggest changes for me was a fairly recent one- having only occurred over this past summer or so. During the summer (or shortly beforehand, to be more precise), I came out as transgender to my parents- and my family, shortly thereafter.
Despite my fears and concerns, it was overall a pleasantly surprising experience, if not still extremely stressful.
To clarify for all those who aren’t quite sure on what being transgender means, let me explain. Transgender is an umbrella term, used for those who identify as a gender separate from the sex they were assigned at birth- this can mean to be assigned the sex of male and identify as female, or to identify as non-binary, or any other gender.
In my case, I was assigned the sex of female at birth- but I identify as a male. A boy, a dude, a guy- whatever term you use. Naturally, this came as a shock to those in my family, and to my close friends.
While I’ve never been very “feminine” at all in my life, it still naturally was a shocking experience for my parents- but as I was ever so pleased to find out, they were accepting and willing to support me as I transitioned from presenting as female to male.
It was rocky, at first, of course. My parents slipped up a lot with the name, and they didn’t always use the proper pronoun- but they tried, and the trying has paid off so far (though still not without the occasional slip-up).
Of course, outside of my family, there was still a worry of my friends abandoning me, or being teased at school, or complications occurring with the community. Many fears that all LGBT+ people have when coming out and transitioning, and not all necessarily unfounded.
However, once again I was pleasantly surprised. Much to my shock and pleasure, the school was accepting and completely willing to change my name on the records to my preferred name, and the teachers all immediately were willing to act as support for me, and to refer to me with my preferred pronouns.
And even better was the response I received from my friends and the student body. For a long time as I started school, presenting as male rather than female, I felt as if I were waiting for the “other shoe to drop”, so to speak. It felt too smooth, too good to be true.
People just, as a whole, didn’t seem to care- and not in the negative way. It seemed to bother nobody that I was LGBT+, and though my friends naturally did have some trouble making the pronoun switch, not a single one abandoned me or acted any different towards me.
We still hung out, we still told the same jokes and talked about the same things, we still rough-housed and teased one another- the only difference being that they called me by the name I felt was mine.
Never did I hear a bad word said about me or to me- I wasn’t bullied, I wasn’t teased, I wasn’t ostracized by the student body. To be honest, I believe that being in the North actually has benefited me in this area- I can’t say for sure that the people down south would have been as accepting and open-minded, but a part of me strongly believes that they probably wouldn’t have.
While I can’t speak for everybody, as everybody has a different coming out story, for me, coming out as LGBT+ has so far been a positive experience, one that I am ever thankful for.
I’m thankful for my supportive parents and family, and for my friends, and for the open-mindedness of the school faculty and students, and for the community as a whole, for making my experience as being LGBT+ so positive so far.
Until Next Time,
Kieran B. Drachenberg