When my brother, Hal, figured out that he was a transman a few years ago at the age of 13 everything clicked for him and our family. There was no epiphany moment. Hal had never thought of himself as a girl. To himself, he wasn’t really anything. He started looking at boys clothes in 8th grade. To his family it was just a phase, until he started doing research and everything started to make sense: His choices in toys as a kid, his halloween costumes, his distaste for dresses and anything that gave his body shape. The joy on his face when he chopped off his hair six months later was absolutely priceless. He had found himself and we had found his smile.
Hal was the first transgender student to come out at his school. His courage has helped make a difference at his school to be more accommodating towards transgender kids. There are now gender neutral bathrooms for every men’s and women’s bathroom, as well as a gender neutral locker room. When Hal noticed there wasn’t an LGBT group at school, he brought it to the school’s attention who were then able to find someone to start the group. Just recently he was asked to help lead a mental health group for students where he gets to share resources and coping methods he himself has learned through therapy and time spent at treatment centers. Although he is not yet comfortable joining the school’s boy teams, he has raised awareness about transgender individuals in sports through his active role in the girls’ soccer and hockey teams. Hal’s role in the LGBT community spans further than his high school. After the Orlando shooting, Hal decided to put up balloons for every victim in our front yard to show his support. Hal continues to inspire us and has touched so many people in so many ways, whether he knows it or not. Big or small, his bravery has helped shape his community.
But the journey hasn’t been easy. He struggles with depression, backlash from peers, and like so many others, everyday he wakes up uncomfortable in his own body. He faces many struggles as a transgender individual, on top of being an adolescent in general, but not being able to go shirtless on vacation or be part of “the guys” is one of his biggest heartaches. Hal is one of the bravest kids I know and his wisdom is beyond his years. He has always stayed true to himself, but each day he looks in the mirror his reflection contradicts who he is. So much of his life and who he is is held back by this affliction. Some days he struggles just to get out of bed. Unfortunately, top surgery is not yet covered by insurance under these circumstances. Hal has been stretching himself thin to make this a reality for him, working as much as he can and saving close to everything he has for top surgery. He has given so much to his community, to his friends and his family. I can personally say that he has taught me a lot: about self-love, not to let what others think and say affect me, and to stay true to myself. He has inspired me in so many ways. Now I want to do something for him in return. If we can relieve him of just this one burden, I can only imagine the weight lifted from his shoulders and the smile on his face when he finally gets to be himself both inside and out.
No matter what, as a family we are determined to make top surgery a reality for Hal. But if Hal’s story hits home or you or someone you know would like to show your support for Hal in any way, whether it’s contributing to his top surgery or sending positive thoughts his way, we appreciate any contribution, large or small!
With that being said, we thank you in advance to all for your continued support, it means more than you know!
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