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  . . When River Francis initially came out as trans, it wasn’t to open...

 

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When River Francis initially came out as trans, it wasn’t to open arms. Their struggling marriage crumbled and they found themselves homeless for stretches at a time. Throughout their periods of housing insecurity, one thing remained constant: their motivation to help queer and trans youth. Thanks to the support of others, River was eventually able to enter a stable living situation, which allowed them the opportunity to not only focus on their transition, but to set their sights on getting an undergraduate degree and pursuing a career in advocacy for queer and trans youth.

 

Transcript provided by YouTube:

00:04
I’m River Francis. I’m from Bar Harbor, Maine.
00:08
When I was six years old, I saw an episode of  Night Court, which featured a trans person. And
00:19
for the first time I realized that that’s a thing  that was real, that it wasn’t just something in my
00:28
head. Moving forward a few years, in eighth grade,  the school decided to show us Ace Ventura. And
00:38
that movie definitely made me aware that it  was also something that I should be hiding.
00:45
I ended up getting married because that  was the thing a guy was supposed to do. And
00:52
she had some kids already, and  then we raised a couple of more.
00:57
For 15 years, I lived in this relationship and  I just kept getting more and more depressed.
01:06
One day I just came to the realization  that I absolutely had to come out.
01:14
And the… the relationship went from bad  to worse. It was no longer safe for me to
01:22
stay and I ended up having to leave. And  end up… ended up at my grandparents’.
01:31
And eventually met some people that had a  wigwam on their property that I could use.
01:37
I had a lot of time to myself just to think about  who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. In all
01:45
of that, the one thing throughout my life that  really gave me purpose was raising my kids. And
01:53
I knew that I still wanted to help kids. But  I had no education. I had nowhere to… to go. .
02:08
At the coldest part of the winter, I ended  up having a mental breakdown. I stopped
02:14
gathering firewood. I stopped trying to keep  the place warm. The people whose land I was on
02:23
knew I was in trouble and they found me a safer  place to be. And from there, I got moved around.
02:31
I ended up staying at an arts collective for a  few weeks, while they found me a better home,
02:39
with some college students. That was  where I had my, my first experience
02:44
actually interacting with another trans  person. He actually helped me a lot with
02:51
the way that I thought about how the world  views me, as compared to how I view me.
02:58
When I was worried about, you know, passing,  which I really can’t as a non-binary person,
03:08
he said, “Well, what does it really mean to pass?”  Which is really just to be accepted as who you
03:19
are. That gave me the confidence that I needed  to just go forth in life and stop worrying about
03:30
who people thought I needed to be and worried more  just about living my life. I went from there to a
03:40
few months at the YWCA, where I got to meet a lot  of very interesting women from all over the world.
03:49
My turn at public housing had come up. I  had been waiting for two and a half years
03:58
and they offered me the apartment that I’m in  now. At that point, I had been on hormones for
04:05
about two years and I felt that it was  time to start getting surgical affirmation.
04:14
I didn’t really have a ride  to get me down for my surgery,
04:20
so I put out a request. Through sheer  chance, it just happened to be one of my
04:25
favorite teachers from high school that was my  driver. And she was now working with Out Maine.
04:33
My ride showed up at like four o’clock in the  morning and we were both just exhausted. And I
04:42
get into the car and we’re just carrying on idle  conversation. All of a sudden she has a moment
04:50
where she realizes exactly who I was, ‘cause  she… she didn’t recognize me at all anymore.
04:58
And that was when we got talking about what  it was that I wanted to do with my life.
05:06
I… I shared my dream of working with kids and  helping helping queer youth get into services and
05:16
get the help that they need. She told me that  what she was doing with Out Maine was pretty
05:23
much exactly that. She was meeting with high  school-age and recently graduated queer youth,
05:33
doing overnight activities and filling out  paperwork to apply for aid and scholarships.
05:41
I was invited along as a chaperone to one of those  overnights, but I was also a participant. I was
05:49
able to finally feel like I could actually get the  education I needed to make my dream happen. Within
06:00
two months, I was enrolled in school. And now I’m  studying mental health and human services. I’m
06:11
working to get my case management certification  and I’m minoring and advocacy specifically so that
06:18
I can help queer youth get the services  that I never had access to growing up.
06:26
It’s not just a transition  story. I mean, my transition
06:32
is a thing that happened. It’s a part  of who I am, but my education and
06:39
my dream to work with… with kids and help them  get services – that is more in line with who I am.
06:48
Support is important to anybody going through  any kind of struggle. Not every queer kid
06:59
out there has the support of their families,  but they do still need support. So there does
07:06
have to be professionals out there  who are both willing and able to give it.
07:34

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This post was previously published on YouTube.

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The post After Hitting Rock Bottom, Trans Person Finds Inspiration in Helping Queer and Trans Youth. [Video] appeared first on The Good Men Project.