1.1. Critical Consciousness
1.2. TGD Youth Risks, Resilience, and Resistance
1.2.1. TGD Youth Risks
1.2.2. TGD Youth Risks in the Midwest
1.2.3. TGD Youth Resilience
1.2.4. TGD Youth Resistance
2.1. Sampling and Participants
2.2. Data Collection
2.3. TGD Youth Advisory Board
2.4. Data Analysis
3.1. Intrapersonal Resistance Strategies
3.1.1. Affirming Self
For the first two years of my transition, I took a picture every single day…it’s taking these little things…reminding myself daily that I’m doing this…I’m navigating being trans and Black and I’m still thriving…my transness is a huge part of my success because without having to navigate all of this, I don’t know who I would be. It’s a part of who I am at the core.
Sometimes I just allow myself to feel sad, and I just say, I know these people are saying these things about me. And I know they don’t think that I can be this, even though this is what I am…it doesn’t matter what they think. I’m still valid.
3.1.2. Maintaining Authenticity
My mom kind of equates it to being Clark Kent. I have to wake up every day and…I’m awesome and great, and the body I picture in my head is not the one that everyone else is seeing. So, I work as hard as I can and be as brave as I can to just say “This is who I am” and try to put it out there every day…I think the defining moment was going out and being like “I’m wearing boy’s underwear now. That’s for me, I don’t care what any people think. I’m wearing boy’s underwear cause I’m a boy. Y’all can suck it!”
I realized it’s not their decision to make. They can be there and be a system of support, but they hold no stake in the decision making of my life or my narrative…Now I’m just unapologetically Black and trans and it’s great. It’s been some shit.
They don’t believe in changing your gender or anything representing your gender…it’s different to stick out but I’m pretty proud of who I am, so I go to church in a tie. I get a few stares and I don’t like to go there, but it’s just…I try to be who I am and if they like me, they do, if they don’t, they don’t.
I have to remind myself that I can express myself the way I want to, without other people…they do judge, but like…I don’t have to care about what they think all the time…I know that people are going to judge, but that doesn’t affect me all the time.
3.1.3. Resisting Oppressive Narratives
As a trans Black woman, my work will be questioned and interrogated…it was really important for me to resist those narratives that were portrayed and say we’re thriving. We’re doctors. We’re doing shit. We’re people. We’re existing. We’re trying.
3.1.4. Finding Hope
It gives me a lot of hope and maybe a preview into my future if things get going in the right direction. I would like to take testosterone. I think that would make me feel a lot better, more comfortable. Yeah, it’s like hearing a success story, especially if it’s someone that I love and care about a lot.
3.2. Interpersonal Resistance Strategies
3.2.1. Avoiding Hostility
I really take caution when I do come out to certain people. I have a very, very bigoted professor at my university right now and no matter how much I want to just be like, ‘Hey, this is how it is, man’, I don’t want to face the backlash from him particularly. I really go through a list of the pros and cons of me coming out to this person.
I talk to them, and if I cannot sway them—which I’ve found doesn’t really work—then I just ignore them. Like my dad, I haven’t talked to him in forever. He was really mentally and emotionally abusive even growing up, then it got worse once I came out as trans. That’s one of the reasons I moved in with my fiancée.
3.2.2. Educating Others
If it’s someone that is kind of already in my life, I’m more likely to want to sit down and have a one-on-one with them and be, you know, kind of like, ‘Hey, this is hurtful. Even if it’s what you believed, it was hurtful. So let’s talk about it.’
I’m very happy to share that with people that I am out and close to, to kind of educate them and show them other stories that aren’t just my own. Because, like I said, a lot of these cases, I’m the only queer person they know.
I felt like I had to give a lot of information…If he had difficulty with name and pronouns, that was… okay. I went down the list of stuff like that. I also sent him an email to go back to later, with some resources at the bottom. Yeah, definitely thinking about all his questions.
I was very proud in that space. We gave a very good and deep overview of trans issues. Good general knowledge but also very good specific knowledge that you could really only get if you were talking about trans issues with a trans person.
Sometimes they get uncomfortable whenever they say the wrong name and they all freak out a little bit and they’ll panic there, like, ‘oh gosh, oh no,’ and then I’ll be like ‘it’s ok, it’s fine, I get it.’ It happens because I get that other people are changing too. Their ways, their views of me and how they present me verbally you know that takes some challenge.
I feel like sometimes people don’t get the full story, just from watching the news or anything like that, so I do a lot of like research sometimes, just to make sure that people know what actually happened…once I put it out there, other people also spread the word… So it kind of starts a chain reaction…[that could start] peaceful protests and stuff like that.
I was like, ‘y’all cannot make us pay to change our fucking names on our (University) IDs, and y’all can help us change our name in the system easier, and y’all can get a gender identity therapist in your health center—someone who can prescribe hormone replacement therapy, direct access.’ I said, ‘And I understand all of those things cost money, and they’re not all as easily feasible, but you can write a policy to have the $20 fee waived to change a name.
3.2.3. Standing up for Self and Others
If the person’s not there and someone’s talking about them and they’re using the wrong pronouns, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been like, ‘Hey, I think it’s actually this. If you could do that, that’d probably be better.’
I try to reflect positivity on anything negative. If somebody’s saying anything negative —if somebody is saying, ‘Transgender is gross’—I’ll be like, ‘Well, I mean, maybe possibly you’re the gross one, but either way, I will love you.’ You know what I mean? Like try to change what they’re saying or what I’m saying into something positive to help encourage them to love instead of hate.
There’s a lot of things I probably need to tell [my mom]. I need to break things off, probably, with my parents, just because they said a lot things. I need time to heal. I can’t let them keep acting the way they are towards my identity…I still talk to them, but they kicked me out, and I’m not okay with what they did or what they said.
They see my birth name, but I emailed all of my teachers and professors at the beginning of the year and asked them to use [chosen name], and that I’m gonna be writing [chosen name] on my paper whether they like that or not.
If I feel the need to join a conversation or whatever, then I’ll do that. I’ll feel really nervous, I guess, while doing it, but at the end when I—when I’ve kind of put them in their place—I feel great overall, but still like just nervous energy.
I can…build myself up enough to jump in and say something, but that never usually happens unless it’s like the internet… In which case, I’ll be like, ‘oh, I don’t have to build up confidence, I’ll just do it now because I’m behind the screen’…that’s pretty much how I do it.
One of the things that I like to do is to just stare in disbelief at them, just complete disbelief, and just make the dumbest face I can, just a complete blank face and just look. Because a lot of the times I can’t really muster the courage to stand up for myself, but I’ll be damned if I can’t make a stupid face.
3.3. Community/Macro Resistance Strategies
3.3.1. Engaging in Activism and Organizing
People get really uncomfortable when trans people are loud in spaces like that, especially white cis males like our Vice-President [or] Principals at the school. They get really uncomfortable when trans people are saying, ‘You did something wrong. Can you please fix it?’ That’s just something people generally get uncomfortable with…But, yeah, definitely expect resistance if you’re gonna…do something mean then they have the right to stand up and say, ‘Mm-mm, no thank you.’
I was very active in my college. I still am. I was president of my honor society. I served on committee boards with faculty reporting to the board of trustees. I’ve had my fingers in a lot of waters. I’ve considered kind of being that person to kind of push things along, but at the same time, it’s almost kind of bystander effect, like not necessarily my responsibility. ‘Oh, someone else will do it, surely.’ No one else has done it. Probably no one else is going to do it. The closest thing you get to [having a GSA] is choir. So that’s kind of the defacto gay club.
We were going to try to put together a panel of teachers that’s just advisors on LGBT issues, because there are some teachers that are a part of that community. We’re trying to have some scheduled meetings and talks, student-to-student, teacher-to-student…there’s lots of connections that can be made, people that can talk about issues as they come up.
3.3.2. Enhancing Visibility and Representation
Gerard Way … has said in interviews, you know, something along the lines of my identity isn’t so binary, or something like that. And I’m like, wow [screams], I got really excited over that…a lot of people that I knew were excited as well. They were like, ‘Wow, this representation.’
Just being surrounded by people like [yourself] makes you feel you’re not alone…I moved here on Pride of this year and it was literally right outside my window and I almost started crying because I’m seeing all these people that are proud of being who they are and they’re not afraid of it… it just made me feel really happy to be who I am.
When you think of queer trans people, you don’t really see many people of color, so you kind of have to search them out yourself… I think it’s important…to let other people know that you can be not white—not fully white—and still queer.
I’m planning on going back to [the GSA] as a speaker in the spring after my voice actually drops…I remember when we had a speaker back in GSA my senior year, and it was a trans guy, and being very disappointed in it, because his family situation was a lot better, and I was really disappointed by that, because I didn’t connect to it.
One of the things that they always say is you see queer people rocking it, and that makes you happy, and you can be that way for someone else. That’s definitely something that I feel, so I try to be very open about that sort of thing—how I look and present and talk about things.
[The need for representation] makes me want to go back [to the Southern state] and be a beacon for them. Sometimes I just really do want to go back and try to just have a house and paint it rainbow colors and let them know everything is going to be alright because you’re not the only one.
4.1. Resistance, Resilience, and Critical Consciousness
4.2. Critical Consciousness among TGD Youth
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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