We Are the Youth is a photographic journalism project chronicling the individual stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in the United States. Through photographic portraits and "as told to" interviews in the participants' own voices, We Are the Youth captures the incredible diversity and uniqueness among the LGBT youth population. We Are the Youth addresses the lack of visibility of LGBT young people by providing a space to share stories in an honest and respectful way. Below is the story of Jaydee.
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By Jaydee, as told to Diana Scholl
I switched schools because of bullying. There was a lot of harassment and people calling me a lot of names: "fag," "dyke," "tranny." Nobody would do much about it, even my principal. I was like, "Screw this. I might as well go to a different school."
There's more LGBT-friendly people at this school. I'm the only trans kid at school. It kind of gives me a little more pressure. What people see from me they kind of expect from other trans people. At the same time, it's pretty awesome. I feel like I have to set an example in a way.
I like to go by "Mizter." I made it up myself. I'm more male than female, but I'm not scared to feel feminine.
Before I came out as trans, I came out as a fake lesbian, because it was more generally acceptable. Everyone would make the joke that I was a she/he. I kind of knew I was always masculine but didn't know the name for it. I'd horse around with the guys, I'd rip Barbie heads off -- all the stereotypes. One day I just looked up "lesbian, gay" on Google, and on Google's autocomplete I saw "transgender" at the end. I just clicked it. I was like, "Whoa, it's kind of like me."
I was thinking how to tell my mom, which was really stupid, because I wrote it on a to-do list. My sister saw it. Then my mom said she wanted to see me on the patio. Why are serious discussions always outside? I told her, "I want to be a boy, just so you know," then I walked back inside, and she started freaking out.
When I first told my mom I liked girls, she told me I was a disappointment. That was one of the worst things. But I told her, "You're my mom. You're supposed to love me no matter what." It worked. In all honesty, now my mom's been pretty accepting. I didn't know if it would seep through. I can probably go on hormones by April or March. Seeing as how she's my only parent, I think she's done really well.
My parents have been divorcing the past two years. My dad has a frontal lobe brain injury from a car accident when I was 2. That kind of fucked shit up. His thinking processes are very, very, very slow. It's put a big, big drift between his and my relationship. And my mom tried being with him, but he wasn't the same since the accident. Their divorce was kind of a bummer, but it was kind of a relief. Me and my brother and sister were like, "Finally." It's a lot better now.
My concept of relationships is very negative. I call them "relationshits." My experiences with relationships have never been good. With every relationship I've ever been in, I let myself go. At the end of the relationship, I was the one who got screwed over.
It's about time I focus on myself. I want to build more muscle. I've thought about modeling -- alternative modeling, for people who have piercings and tattoos. I've thought about animation and graphic design.
I really, really love to draw. I'm a comic book fanatic. I like to sing, even though I suck at it. I love music, just in general. I listen to a lot of Lady Gaga. Her music is very inspirational. She and Adam Lambert really helped me come out. If Lady Gaga could do that, and if a gay guy could strut on the street, I can, too.
Photo by Laurel Golio, taken in Minneapolis, 2012.