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“Every day I wake up glad that I can be my authentic self.”

By Aiden Berzins

When I came out as a lesbian, my parents reacted horribly. When they found out I identified as transgender, their reaction was even worse. They kicked me out and then disowned me. I was only seventeen.

I was homeless for two years. I slept on friends’ couches, then I spent a year living on the streets. For a long time I didn’t cope psychologically. I was deeply stressed and I resorted to self-injury.

They kicked me out and then disowned me. I was only seventeen.

Finally, my uncle found me and helped me get a place to live. He told me about an LGBTQ center. I started volunteering there and learned that there was a space in the world for people like me.

My work at the center helped me understand my sexual identity. I didn’t just have a sexual preference for women; I identified as trans masculine. I’ve started my transition. I’m in therapy, and I’ve been taking testosterone for a year. I’ve thought about top surgery, which could include a mastectomy, but it’s expensive and isn’t something to rush into. I’m only twenty now. I have time to think it through.

During my transition, I found solace in work. 

I had a job at PetSmart, and being around rescued animals was therapeutic. These animals came back from terrible experiences and were happy and loving. It made me realize that I could bounce back too.

My work at the LGBTQ center is still so rewarding. I love being a mentor for other LGBTQ people. My story gives younger trans people hope, and their hopefulness brings me joy.

I’m now in college on a full scholarship. And I started the website transvivor.com to provide information for the trans community and educate the cis community about trans issues.

I’m grateful for my friends, whom I think of as my homemade chosen family. My partner and I are talking about starting our own family. It’s so nice to have those dreams—for so long I didn’t think they would be possible. Every day I wake up glad that I can be my authentic self. 

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Aiden Berzins is a headstrong character. He has not let life's challenges stop him from continuing to be a giving and caring person. He now works as a graphic designer and entrepreneur, hoping to continue to grow his small business. 

Image Credit: Dana Romanoff/The Verbatim Agency for OptionB.Org

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