1st Place Essay: “School is a battle field: gender identity affirmation”

February 16, 2016
Alex Villafuerte
The school feels like a battlefield just before the first shot is fired.
Every day, I walk past the restrooms in the one hundred building. Every day, I have to change in the wrong locker room. Every day, I feel the stares on my back and often hear whispers.
Walking to fourth period PE every day starts a racing in my chest and a sickness in my stomach. The boys’ locker room is a right turn. The girls’ is to the left. My thoughts, taking up the voice of a harsh commander, weigh the options each time I approach. To the left, there are the piercing eyes of the girls. How many would ask about me behind my back? How many would question me upfront? To the right, there is no way to expect what could happen. Would they beat me up? Kick me out? Both? We could turn back and go to the counsellor. We could go to the nurse.
No, we have to change in the girls’ locker room. That’s what we do every day. That’s what everyone wants you to do.
So I take the left turn, and I walk down the small flight of stairs, and I walk to my locker, and I hate every moment of it.
The school offers help, but it feels cold and scripted. The nurse has pulled me out of class to ask me about my gender. I should have been grateful, but I was scared and felt pressured. I nodded at everything she said and tried to listen, but I just wanted to go back to class.
Go back to the class containing the teacher that, for a while, I believed had ruined my life. At Open House, he asked my mother what my gender was. He questioned her and told her things that were none of his business. I want to think positive, but I find it hard to forgive him. Because of him, my mother will  never look at me the same way again.
I have no support coming from my friends. At least, I once thought they were my friends. I have no support from home. School offers help, but I find it hard to reach out for help. When I look to myself as a last resort, I find no confidence. Sometimes, school leaves me weary and wanting to give up. Most often, I just want to fast forward to when I turn eighteen.
I want to get away from parents, from people who doubt me and judge me. I want to get away from the image of who everyone thought I was.
Our world has come so far to help people like me. With slight improvements, more education, and safe programs, we can help so many people. Instead of pulling us aside, singling us out, and saying things without our permission, we need to be able to reach out and communicate with each other. Every person deals with things differently. We must understand these differences.