An Open Letter to Queer and Trans Youth
I’m not typically a fan of generalizing, but I think it might be safe to assume that you’re all some flavor of hurt, sad, angry, worried, and scared just like the rest of our community is. I’m not a fan of sugar coating things, because I don’t think it helps. Your feelings are valid, and your fears are in many ways justified. It’d be dishonest for me to try to downplay the things our community faces every day. I don’t need to lay these out for you, because many of you experience these things in your schools and your homes every day.
One of the most often repeated phrases in the lexicon of LGBTQ youth support is “it gets better.” What I’ve heard from the youth I interact with (and I wholeheartedly agree, even hearing it as an adult) is that this is entirely unhelpful. Of course this is well intentioned. Many hurtful things have the best of intentions. The phrase is, of course, an attempt to get you to take heart, and have hope for the future. The problem is, this says nothing about what we’re doing in the meantime. I’m not a fan of telling people they have to wait for some unforeseen time in the future when things will eventually get better. I don’t think this is the message we want to send.
So here is the message I do want to send.
I don’t want to make you promises I can’t keep. I can’t promise you that I’m going to convince your bigoted teacher that it’s okay for you to be who you are. I can’t promise you I’m going to convince your school administrators that you shouldn’t have to be othered by using a staff bathroom in some remote area of the building when all you’re trying to do is pee. I can’t promise that I’ll convince your parents to let you see your partner. I can’t promise that I’ll convince your friends you’re not weird because you don’t want or enjoy sex. I can’t promise I’ll convince your grandparents to use the correct name and pronouns.
I can promise you this: there is a large and growing movement of adults fighting tooth and nail for you at this very second.
There are organizations like GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) that work to make your schools safer, and PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) who are dedicated to fostering understanding and affirmation in your families. These organizations are staffed with passionate, bullheaded, and unapologetic allies who want your lives to be the best they can be. There are individuals working every day to change the hearts and minds of our policy makers, our parents, and our school administrators. I can’t promise you immediate and spectacular success, but I can promise you action.
I will do my best to make sure you are surrounded by love in any space under my control. If you have to deal with this crap at school, I will do my best to make sure you don’t have to deal with it in support groups and in social gatherings. If you deal with this crap at home, I promise I will do my best to make the vital online spaces in which you seek community safe for you. I will use whatever platforms granted to me to amplify your voices and your concerns. In a world that tries so hard to shrink the precious little space we have, I will be the wedge driving that space further open. In a world that wants us to disappear, I will shine your light brightly. In a world where fake allies hide behind rainbow flags, I will hold people accountable.
You are precious, you have value, and you are loved. Saying this is a start, but it isn’t enough. I sincerely believe that we are resilient. We can make our way through almost anything if we have spaces where we are loved, affirmed, and supported. I’m committing to my part in creating and expanding these spaces for you. Please know that if you’re feeling lost, we’re coming to get you.
I am, of course, only one person. My scope of influence is narrow. But I’m committing to do my part. There are thousands (maybe tens or hundreds of thousands) of adults out here doing everything we can to make this world a safe place for you to exist and thrive in. We’re doing everything we can to circle you with love and affirmation. Please try to know and understand your value. Your value is not based on being someone’s child or someone’s sibling. Your value is based very simply on your existence. I and many others like me are committed to not just saying these things, but letting our actions demonstrate these things.
We love you, and we want you to be safe. We want you to thrive.
A queer transgender adult