Isaiah Alfonso, 16, volunteers with Rainbow Alley, a safe space for young members of the LGBTQ community. After dealing with mental health challenges, he fell behind in school, eventually to the …
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Isaiah Alfonso, 16, volunteers with Rainbow Alley, a safe space for young members of the LGBTQ community. After dealing with mental health challenges, he fell behind in school, eventually to the point where he knew he couldn't catch up, he said. He identifies as non-binary, but mostly trans-male, he says. He is now working toward a GED and plans to attend college to study psychology.
“I realized when I was pretty young. When I was 5 years old, I loved girly things. I was like `This is how girls are supposed to be.' All pink and princesses. Then I saw this soccer game of a local soccer team where all the girls had their hair in ponytails and they were all wearing blue and looked the exact same as the boys. I was like `Huh, something seems a little weird here, I think my favorite color is blue now.' And as time went on, I became slowly more passionate. I was not a girl, I was a tomboy — there's a very big difference. Then I found out what trans is, and the rest is history.
“... Everyone around me was definitely not super restorative of my struggle. But it's turned out pretty good so far. Most people who were around me back then aren't around me anymore or have changed for the better.
“I'd say that the hardest thing was losing some of the people that I did or, just in general, seeing the backlash I got from people. When you come out, you don't expect it to be that bad, especially when you're really young. You just think `No one's going to give me any crap.' I was the token queer kid at school ... People didn't take me very seriously and they were rude. For the most part, my transition, even though I haven't medically transitioned yet — because that's a lot of stuff and things to do — but just the social transition itself has, luckily, gone pretty smoothly.”
“I just want people to know that they can be whatever they want to be and they shouldn't feel ashamed for being themselves. And I just want people to treat trans people normal … People expect you to look a certain way or else you aren't real. I just don't want people to worry about being themselves … and to have the space to be themselves because there's no reason to be ashamed of who you are or pretend you're something that you're not ... As long as you don't hurt anyone else, what's the real harm in being you — no matter what you look like?
“I want to do a lot of public work with LGBT youth. A lot of them don't know who they are or what they want to be or what they are looking for. I hope that I am someone who can help lead them to where they want to be.”
“Youth have new ideas. We haven't been raised in the same society that a lot of adults were. We come in with a fresh head and new perspective on things, so we see things that not everyone else does. So many kids are really intelligent, and no one gives them the space they deserve to say these awesome things they are thinking."
Being transgender "made me have a perspective where I can appreciate the outlandish a little bit more because I am considered outlandish and weird by most people. I just have this odd perspective on life where I was raised as one thing then found out I was another. I'm already kind of banned by society.”
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