Skyler Rehm (two additional presenters).

It Gets Better: But Only If You Make It

Presentation Overview:

As a teenager, I didn’t think I would make it to adulthood. It sounds morbid, but that’s the reality that a large portion of the community faces. Now I’m in my twenties, and while there are still challenges, and will always be challenges, I’m doing okay. And honestly, okay is enough.

This presentation is partly about my journey, but also about the importance of finding a support network, including local resources. I grew up in Tulsa, OK, and went to a school without a GSA because we couldn’t find a teacher to support us. I had never met a transgender person until I moved to Lawrence, and hadn’t even known the word until I was stumbling through internet communities. For a long time, the only stories I heard about LGBT folks were the tragedies. Stories like Boys Don’t Cry and The Laramie Project are important, but a little terrifying to a teenager trying to sort out their gender identity and sexuality. I want to show people, especially younger people, that you can be trans and happy at the same time. It’s what I wish I’d seen when I was young, and what I want to give back to the community.

I built a support network with friends in similar situations. It can be hard to be transgender in the Midwest, and it’s gotten me into trouble before. But you can make a good, happy life out here, if you can find people who support you and care about you. And I want to help people build and find their own.

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