I came out as a lesbian during my senior year of high school. It was difficult, but I had a few close friends who I could count on. However, a few months later, most of my close friends moved away. I was still struggling with my identity, and I had no one to talk to. I became very depressed and I nearly hit rock bottom.
I heard about The Attic, and I decided to check it out. I came to the Attic nervous and “directionally challenged”. I had never gone to Center City alone, and I was quiet around people I didn’t know. The staff must have sensed it. They were polite and quietly reassuring. The people I met there were too. They let me be as quiet or talkative as I wanted to be. Either way, I was welcome. Eventually, I became a regular.
Then, my life changed again. As I spent more and more time around people who accepted me for who I was, I felt myself physically relax. I felt parts of my body loosen, and my thinking did too. It was therapeutic. Just by being there and participating in Attic programming I began to get comfortable with myself. My mood began to improve, and I actually started to make goals for my future. I had never once felt like a part of something, and then suddenly I was. For me, this was comfort.
However, I was still struggling with something — not quite knowing what it was. At The Attic, we sometimes go around the room and everyone says which pronoun they prefer to use and be called. At first, I thought it was obvious, but then I realized what this really meant: pronouns weren’t just givens. Someone who was born a girl could use male pronouns, and vice versa. This was the first time I realized gender was mutable. Over the months, I realized that male pronouns felt right for me. I slid into them like a pair of worn jeans. It felt perfect.
Over the last year, after a lot of thought and talking to my friends and counselor, I came out as transgender. This is now. But I am not over. My “jeans” may fit, but that doesn’t mean everything is ok again. I still have a whole world out there, some of it hostile. It can get hard. Sometimes I just need to be in a space where I can just be Kevin, whatever that means, and can be supported. For me, that space is the Attic.
I have always had a lot to say, but there are some things I find myself repeating over and over again. One such thing is whenever I meet someone who looks like they need a safe space –the way I know I needed one, a place for community, support, and growth, I find one particular action sentence inevitably comes out of my mouth: “Go to the Attic; I think you might find something there you’ll like. And it might even be you.”