Kate H. shares her experience as a transgender female, from coming out to her mom in seventh grade to how her Club’s acceptance means everything, as well as her advice for gender-questioning youth and their parents.
When I was in seventh grade, my mother was filling out a survey. Toward the top was this question: “How does your child identify?”
Male, female, nonbinary, transgender.
Before checking a box, my mom came to me and asked me how I’d like to answer this question.
Though my sex assigned at birth was male, I have always known in my heart that I’m a girl. At that time, I wasn't quite ready yet to share and I hadn’t told anyone. But when my mother asked me, I told her.
It was a little nerve-racking. But after it was done, it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It was also very enlightening – for the first time, someone else understood who I know myself to be.
What does it feel like knowing you’re a girl, when everyone thinks of you as a boy? It feels like having your shoes on the wrong feet and never being able to take them off. You can do things to distract yourself from it for a little bit, but eventually you will feel it again.
After I shared with my mom that I am transgender, it was all new to her – how it felt for me knowing I was trans, the terminology and what pronouns to use. But she was immediately like: “Teach me.” Another place I found acceptance was at my Boys & Girls Club.
And with their support, I started being Kate.
I’ve been a member of my local Boys & Girls Club for five years.
(Though there was a one-year gap because of COVID, which was kind of odd and unpleasant. I was at home all the time, not really doing much. I missed hanging out with people and doing things that I enjoy with others. I can't really play Pokémon by myself!)
All of the staff members here at the Club are very fun and interesting people. Each of them has different qualities that make them important. And everyone who I've talked to has been very accepting of who I am. It feels very nice.
At my Club, I am going by my preferred name (Kate) and pronouns (she/her/hers), which has very much helped. I don't get different looks from people; how people look at one person is how they look at another. When I think about how accepting my Club is, I know it’s because we all choose to be here. In choosing to be somewhere, you choose how you show up. And people at my Club show up with a lot of acceptance.
In my journey of learning who I am, I have been through a bit. I learned about myself, just by going to school and reading things. One of my favorite books is “If I Was Your Girl” by Meredith Russo, a YA novel where the main character is a trans female navigating her new high school and her identity – something I can very much identify with.
On Riddle Wednesdays, I almost always get the riddle.
A Club staff member writes a riddle on the whiteboard and whoever cracks the riddle the fastest gets a prize. Riddles like… I'm faster when I'm thin and slower when I'm thick. You measure my worth in hours. The wind is my enemy. What am I?
I’ve always had a very analytical mind, which is helpful on Riddle Wednesday. I can also solve a Rubik's cube in under two minutes. I love video games and I am planning on getting into IT – Internet Technologies – and fighting back on hackers. (I chose it in sixth grade, when there was a career fair and an anti-hacker gave a presentation. And it just seemed very interesting, helping companies protect themselves and making people safer on the internet.)
Before joining my Club, I didn't really hang out with people. I didn’t put myself out there and I didn’t like social interactions – I just didn’t know how. My Club has helped me learn communication skills. The Club is a place to be myself, be safe and have people that I can hang out with just to have fun.
My favorite activities are Torch Club and Keystone, which are community service and global leadership programs. I like helping people. I like the fact that helping them can get them out of hard times, and I like seeing the brightness in their faces.
For transgender teens like me or those questioning their identities, I’ll say this: You are who you are, and you are the only one who truly knows that.
As you share who you are, make sure it’s with a person you trust.
And for parents, if your kid shares who they are, know this: They are still the same kid. No need to behave any differently. And they must trust you a lot to let you know.
The answer to the riddle is “candle,” by the way, if you haven’t guessed it.
Learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s commitment to inclusion. Clubs provide inclusive and safe places, caring mentors and life-enhancing programs that boost youth self-esteem, build confidence and contribute to overall positive and healthy wellbeing. Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest resources and stories.