Q: Help! Ever since coming out as genderqueer, I am getting bullied at school. I know my parents would never support me either. My brother is also trans, and we are both hurting. We are allowed to go into the boys bathroom, but are harassed every time we try. They are threatening us, and ever since coming out I just feel lonely. Please help. -ST
A: Dear ST,
I am so sorry you are hurting so much. It is not fair how hard this can be for so many people. I am constantly shocked how much energy is put into traumatizing people who are seen as “different.” I think the best way to combat the constant negative affects of the people at school and at home, is to aggressively focus on wherever you can find support.
It can be really difficult to look beyond the harassment at school and at home and try to find individuals or spaces that do support you. But I think this is the best, and sometimes only, thing that you can do. The good news is that there is SO MUCH support out there! We at Out Maine are always here for you, and are only a phone call or email away. We have a youth group too, if you are in the Rockland area, but we also understand that it can be difficult for young people who do not have supportive parents to get there. If it is possible, we are always at 63 Park St in Rockland on Wednesdays from 3-5.
Not knowing where you live or what school you might go to, the following resources may or may not be helpful. Oceanside High School has a brand new Gay/Straight/Trans Alliance that meets on the first and third Wednesday of the month. Hannah Fasey, the freshman advocate as well as the New Hope For Women advocate, is also at Oceanside every day, and is a wonderful person to talk to one-on-one. The guidance counselors at your school can also be good resources.
Two important numbers to have on hand are: The Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860, and the LGBTQ Youth Talkline at 1-800-246-PRIDE. I suggest saving these in your phone under a code name that only you know, in case your parents ever take your phone.
Are there specific ways you and your brother could support each other more? Can you go on walks together to just have space to talk more? Have lunch together? Go to the gym together? Do an activity that just the two of you do? Can the two of you combine forces to strategize ways to stand up to bullies at school, talk to guidance counselors, teachers, or even parents if you wanted to?
It is great that the school administration is supporting you in using the bathrooms of your choice. However, if the school culture is too threatening, the school's support doesn't help much. Unfortunately, when we are targeted and harassed, it is important to pick our battles. Too often, we have to balance out our safety and our comfort with what we know to be healthiest for us. If it is not safe for you to use the boys bathrooms, it might be best to wait until your peers become more understanding until this is a safe option for you. Only you can make this decision. Do you have any non-trans male friends who might go into the bathrooms with you? Any teachers who might accompany you? Could you (maybe with the help of Out Maine or any other supportive adult) talk to the school administration about this issue? If they have supported you in using the boys bathroom, maybe they would support some school-wide education around trans and queer issues, or a policy of providing an adult to monitor the bathrooms and hallways for bullying.
Please know you are not alone. Countless genderqueer and trans kids are trying to figure out the best way to address these exact issues and this exact moment. Reach out to us at OutMaine as often as you need, call the hotlines, and seek out and hold tight to the people who do see and support you.