Antonio Lavermon of The LGBTQ Center Long Beach poses. Photos by Abel Reyes.
Heaven Ferraro decided to put mascara on for the first Trans Pride event in Long Beach, to look like he had more facial hair. Afterwards, his mom was not happy.
Ferraro, 18, has been in and out of the hospital because of his mental health and their struggle with self-identity.
“There’s still a dysphoria that I have to get through every day and it causes so much anxiety because I’m always worried about how people are going to treat me, because I know that presenting openly is going to get some negative energy thrown at me,” Ferraro said.
Ferraro’s mother has had the most difficult time with his presentation, but Ferraro has come to terms with his mother having a difficult time with his identity.
“She acts like I’m hurting her in some way. She acts like I’m taking away her daughter,” Ferraro said. “So it’s, it’s difficult, it’s hard.”
It was through going to events like the Long Beach Trans Pride event on Sept.18 that he was able to find a space where he was able to finally embrace himself, he said.
But for Brooklyn Hoy, 14, who is originally from Indiana, finding spaces where she can embrace herself came through the medium of cartoons. Being able to live vicariously through characters who represent the best version of themselves became an easy escape from the enclosed spaces of Indiana.
“I started to feel like I’ve actually started living life,” Hoy said. “Before I started identifying as a girl and presenting as a girl, I felt like I was just existing and I didn’t really feel like I was doing anything.”
After texting her parents that she was trans, being able to finally show herself as she intends became a reality for Hoy. But even after transitioning, questioning her self-identity is still a common issue for her.
Fortunately however, events like Trans Pride Day and spaces like the school Hoy attends, offer services and counsel to help people develop more efficiently.
And for someone who questions the decision to transition or not, seeking people who are able to understand them might be the next thing to do.
“Seek people out who understand you and care about you,” Jasper Thomas said.
For a while, Thomas, 18, thought he was non-binary. But after figuring out that he feels like a guy throughout the day, he began his transition. Finding the community he chose to enter proved to be difficult at first, but eventually Thomas found someone.
“I can say confidently that I will always support people living in their most genuine and authentic life and identity, whatever that means for them,” said Josh Schwarz, Thomas’s partner.