Mishkan’s Rabbinic Assistant shares how his lonely experience as a trans youth navigating a hostile healthcare system inspired him to start a Trans and Non-Binary Youth Support Group.

I came out as Transmasculine in the Fall quarter of my senior year of college. After identifying as Non-binary for my first three years of undergrad, I felt that my old name and pronouns were not working anymore. Coming to terms with my masculine identity was a process I largely did alone. I had several wonderful cisgender friends and supports, but no other Trans people to help guide me.

In my last few months of college and my first few years after graduating, I realized how little support there was for Trans and Non-binary people in a society that disparages gender nonconformity. I had to navigate starting hormone replacement therapy in Chicago and then switching doctors every time I moved cities. I navigated fighting my insurance for top surgery, and my partner (now husband) had to drive me two and a half hours to find a mental health provider to write me a support letter because no one would in the city where I lived. Throughout this process, I felt so utterly alone. I vowed that any time I could, I would not allow any other Trans or Non-binary person to experience the loneliness that I did. 

Introduction: Trans Youth Support Group

After I started working at Mishkan and started my masters in social work and public policy, it became clear to me that the opportunity to support Trans youth and build community was right in front of me. As part of my internship for social work school, I decided to start a Trans youth support group, open to any Trans, Non-binary, or gender-exploring youth between the ages of 12 and 18. Our first meeting will be Sunday May 22nd at 1pm in Maggie’s Place at the Mishkan office! We will meet twice a month and explore questions around our gender and build community as Transgender people. 

I’m coming up on my 5 year anniversary of living as my true self as Seth. It was scary in 2017 when I came out, and it has only become scarier for Trans and Non-binary people in the United States. As the average age of a Transgender person in this country is 35, I feel that at 26, it is my time to be a Trans elder and support Trans youth. The fears I feel as a Trans person everyday are only magnified in young people and I want no Trans youth to ever feel alone. There is power in coming together as Transgender people, there is resistance, liberation, and love. Trans people only become stronger when we support and love one another. I started this group to help Trans youth love themselves as their full selves, and to love each other. So let the love flow.