Journey of self discovery

Oli Grenke, Media Manager

Our teenage years can be the most memorable and crazy years on our lives. They are full of personal growth, discovery, failures, successes, and unique experiences. It is not an easy place to be in life – everyone is different, and that is a hard thing to deal with growing up.

As time goes on, we are oftentimes too distracted by the whirlwind of our lives that we do not notice how much we grow and evolve. When my teenage years crept up on me, I suddenly felt the shift from innocent childhood to the famed, brutal self discovery and growth that goes along with maturity. I was fourteen years old – confused, depressed and searching for answers to the heavy, crippling weight on my mind and body. I began searching for a resolution, scrolling through web pages full of definitions, stories, and medical journals, reading books and watching documentaries. Eventually, I found my answer: I am transgender.

I could not accept this at first. I tried to “fix” myself by conforming to society’s standards, by forcing my pain and emotions into frilly dresses, makeup, and jewelry. I was terrified to admit to myself and my family that I am not the eldest daughter, the big sister, or the angelic shell of a girl I always pretended to be. I am the eldest son, the big brother, the cautious seed of a man that has just found the sun.

It turns out, I would not be the only one who would struggle with my identity. I confided in my closest friends at the time, but it took me over a year to fully come out to everyone, including my family. It was not easy for any of us. We went through some rough patches and things still are not perfect, and they never will be – that is just life.

Life has not always been forgiving. I have been bullied, harassed, threatened, and belittled in person and online by both people I love and people I have never met. My mere existence is controversial. It should not be this way, but it is.

Fortunately, there are people who love and support me. My sister, Madison, has always encouraged me and been there in my times of need, and I am forever grateful for her. My teachers at school have shown nothing but support, and lots of my peers have my back.

My experience as a transgender high school student has been all sorts of crazy, full of highs and lows and upside-downs. Coming out was one of the best decisions I have ever made, despite the challenges I have faced. I hope to be a little bit of an inspiration for other queer students to live their truths and obtain happiness and content. We deserve love, representation, rights, and happiness like everyone else. We will not be silenced.