I never thought I would be so consumed by a letter to the editor that I would feel compelled to respond. But last week my Mom showed me Valerie Fox’s letter. We were shocked, we felt Los Alamos was a safe haven for people like me. Especially since the highschool accommodated my name change, and my peers had chosen me for homecoming king – even before I transitioned. But when I thought about it, I remembered everything.
The first incident I remembered was when my first girlfriend and I were walking by some boys and after they saw us they sniffed the air and yelled “Ew it’s the lesbians!” Sometimes we’d walk by groups and they’d chant “gay is not okay” at us until we were out of sight or until they got bored. Those were not the last instances of bigotry I would experience at the highschool but the frequency and intensity of the harassment declined as the years went by. This was mostly due to the effort the highschool put forward to educate the student body about LGBTQ+ issues and people. In health class a trans man came and talked to us. His name was Adrian and he talked about the stigma around trans people and what it’s really like to be trans. I think I asked a thousand questions that day! It felt like I had been seen for the first time in my life and although I knew I had a lot of challenges ahead of me I knew that really living life was possible. I watched as my peer’s minds opened and their perspectives shifted.
When I changed my name to Alex I had hoped that all of my problems would magically disappear, because I really didn’t want to be trans. But my stomach always dropped whenever anyone called me Emily. I knew they were trying, and it did start to get better when they would actually consistently call me Alex. Similarly, I thought that as soon as I took my first shot of testerone I would finally sound and look the way I felt. That was not the case either. When I began testosterone I changed my pronouns to he/him, but even then people still perceived me as a woman. I didn’t blame them since I knew it would take time and I had not had top surgery yet. Still, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without shuddering, and I bound my chest the entire summer so I could leave the house without feeling anxious.
I had top surgery last November. Since then, I have been happier, kinder and more patient. My parents and I have restored our relationship and I feel like a brand new person. There really is no way to properly describe how much better my life is now that I have transitioned. I was never scared to come out to my family. Of course I was nervous, but I always knew they would love me unconditionally and would never look at me differently. Devastatingly, not all queer or trans kids get to feel this love or have support from their family. Most know for a fact that if they were to come out, their parents wouldn’t love them anymore. Even worse, they would disown them or claim to hate them.
Trans and queer kids kids are more likely to commit suicide when their family does not supprot them. In fact, when a family supports their queer or trans child the likelihood of them attempting suicide drops by half. It really is that simple. All you have to do is support your child in the way they need you to. I truly hope that Valerie and her supporters are able to look past their own misconceptions to help their children when they need it most.
Editor’s note: This letter was previously published by the Los Alamos Daily Post and received Friday morning by the Los Alamos Reporter.