I came to terms with who I am toward the beginning of my sophomore year in high school. Having the support of my family, I began to express myself in a manner consistent with my identity. Starting with nail polish and then stepping into makeup and clothes from the “girls’ section,” I felt comfortable being who I was at school. I was constantly bullied and made fun of, but that didn’t outweigh the beauty of finally being myself. Coming into my own, I thrived. I rose to the top 10 of my class at school. I ran for student body president and won. I founded the gay-straight alliance at my school and became a youth leader with Gay-Straight Alliance Network, training other young people to push back against all forms of oppression in their schools.
At the same time, I was and still am dealing with a home situation — or rather, “lack of home” situation. For the past four years, my parents, sisters, niece, and I have lived in motels across the San Gabriel Valley, unable to afford a permanent household. Some nights we can’t even afford the daily rate to sleep in our motel room. I know who I am, but I cannot always afford makeup or the clothes that accurately express my femininity in the way I want to. When my family is in need, though, that is not a priority on my list. I ran for homecoming queen in the fall and wore the best attire I could afford. I loved the way I looked.
When the School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266) passed, I knew that I would finally get the chance to play softball, the sport I had envied my sisters for playing for years. I tried out for the team and was beyond happy to be back on the field. I eagerly waited for the results and could not believe my eyes when I found out I made the varsity team. Never mind that I was one of the first transgender student-athletes in my state; I was just happy to be on the team, and happy to rub it in my older sister’s face when she came home.