Earlier this summer, continuing an annual tradition, we invited Daily Hive Vancouver readers who identify as LGBTQ to submit their own ‘coming out’ stories as a way of empowering and inspiring others who may be struggling with their own sexuality.
The fourth of our reader-submitted coming out stories during Vancouver Pride Week 2017 is an extraordinary one. At just 14 years old, high school student Tru Wilson has not only embraced her true self but is also a cause for change in her community.
Tru and her family are some of the Grand Marshals of the 2017 Vancouver Pride Parade, which kicks off at noon today in downtown Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood.
Name: Tru Wilson
Occupation: High School Student
I have had a lot of experiences in my life, to say the least. The majority of these experiences have been normal teenage experiences like my first crush and my first time skipping school.
But that’s not what we’re here to talk about now is it? This letter I am writing tells the story of all of my achievements, experiences, and hopes for the LGBT2Q+ community. In particular, this is about my experience with the Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese, the Catholic school district for the area, and the human rights complaint I filed against them a few years ago.
When I was a little boy I was very feminine. At playtime I would always run to the princess dress and fairy wings or the dollhouse.
My parents were a bit worried at first but the teacher told them not to worry. She told them that “kids experiment with all sorts of things to figure out what they like” and “eventually he’ll start drifting over to the boys side of the playroom.”
Boy, were they wrong. As time went on my parents were starting to realize that my feminine qualities were not fading quickly. In fact they weren’t fading at all.
So of course my mom started researching. She found a study that showed 75% of children acting this way turned out to be gay. There was the off chance that your child was transgender but that was highly unlikely. So for awhile my mom just assumed I was gay.
By this time we were at the Catholic school. I had made a large group of friends consisting of mainly girls, and when I went home I would dress up in some of my mom’s old dresses and throw on a wig.
My dad would come home from a long day of work and see his oldest son running up to him in fairy wings and a prom dress. My dad was getting worried because as a kid he was bullied for his skin being darker than the kids at his school. He didn’t want his son to suffer the same fate.
Meanwhile, my mom started researching what it meant to be transgender, and she found a documentary about transgender children and wanted to show it to me.
So one faithful night my mom, dad and I sat down on the couch and we watched the documentary on TV. After it was over I broke down into tears and in between sobs I said, “That’s me, I’m transgender.”
Immediately after that my mom took me to the store. I got my first feminine t-shirt, skirt, tights, headband, and the works. We started seeing counsellors as a family, and eventually it was just myself. The counsellor we were seeing recommended we take the summer to just let me be me and see how it goes. My parents and I agreed.
I had fully transitioned after what my family called “the summer of Trey”.
At this point, I transitioned at home, in sports, and at my dance school – every aspect of my life, except one: school.
Keep in mind this was a semi-private Catholic school. My parents already knew it wasn’t going to be easy. And they were right. The school wouldn’t budge.
Even after showing them letter after letter from multiple doctors saying that my parents were doing the right thing, they weren’t convinced and started recommending their own doctors to give me assessments. Soon after, my parents realized that they weren’t going to get anywhere with the school and we left.
Not long after we left, my parents and I filed a human rights complaint against the Catholic school district.
Halfway through the complaint process, my mom told me that I had a choice. I could either accept the progress we’ve made and live my life incognito or I can go public with it and press further to have the policy changed.
And I told her that it would be nice to live life as a “normal” girl, but if I can stop a child from having to go through the horrors I went through at that school, then it was worth it. So we were able to get a policy made that allows all children to use their preferred bathrooms, uniforms, names and pronouns. Believe me, it’s not a perfect policy but at least it’s a start.
Since then, my advocacy has grown. I have been on panels, given presentations at universities and schools, been on the cover of local magazines, and named one of the most powerful people in Vancouver, and next month I will be a speaker at TEDxEastVan, which I am very excited for.
But I don’t advocate because I want to be on magazines and newspapers.
I was so fortunate to be born into a family built on love and acceptance. There are so many youth out there who are stuck in homes that treat them like garbage. They are forced to live their lives lying to everyone about who they really are.
As they go through puberty, their body turns against them and their reflection becomes a stranger. It is the worst feeling knowing you are becoming the exact person you fear the most, knowing you can do nothing.
They fall deeper and deeper into a never-ending hole where their screams and cries for help are silenced.
I have chosen to be the voice for those who don’t have one and I solemnly swear that I won’t stop until real change is made. What we all need is love. That’s it.
I want my children to be born into a world where you can be whoever you are, with no limitations, no holes, and no lying to yourself about who you are on the inside.
I want to see a world where no one is afraid anymore. A world where everyone has a voice. A world of love.