Sometimes journalism is difficult because the sources aren't forthcoming or polished speakers, requiring extra effort to tease compelling morsels out of interview material. This week’s cover story was difficult for the opposite reason: Every single person I contacted was articulate, knowledgable, insightful and well-spoken. Their statements were thought-provoking and their stories inspiring. Lissa, a member of the Transgender Resource Center's youth group was no exception, though what she shared with me didn't make it into the print edition.
“Like most transgender people, I've known that I was trans for a really long time,” she told me.
In 8th grade, after confessing in confidence to one of her best friends that she was trans, he outed her to the entire school. Coming out to her mother wasn't any easier.
“I was really suicidal for a time, and my mom walked in on what was my second attempt. My first was when I was little, but I chickened out, thankfully.” Lissa said her mother still struggles to accept who she really is, but “she's of the mindset that it's better to have another daughter than a dead son. It's not accepting, but it's at least tolerant.”
Lissa's journey through adolescence has been eased somewhat by a doctor's prescription for testosterone blockers, an active Gay-Straight Alliance group at school and a supportive group of friends. She's also found an outlet on YouTube where she posts videos aimed at other young people struggling to reconcile their gender identity.
When I told Lissa that she and other youth group members seemed much so much more mature than their age, she theorized that it comes with the territory of their experiences.
“You're making very mature decisions about your life. You grow up really fast, and you grow up hiding because from a very young age you know something's different and you're going to be hated for it.”