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I was seventeen when I told my mom I wasn’t a girl. At that time, I knew other trans people only through accessorized tropes on TV, a few books, and of course, like a true millennial, I followed many trans folks on social media.

I grew up in a small, Gulf Coast, beach town – often referred to as a “Redneck Riviera.” Though I love my hometown deeply, at seventeen I knew growing into who I so desperately needed to be would prove agonizing and isolating should I choose to stay there.The lack of community, resources, and a heaping dose of normalized bigotry was simply not the environment I felt I could flourish in.

Over the following two years I remained in my hometown. Over these years I would be kicked out of my home, then invited to move back in. I would find a new chosen family that only used “he” and “him” when addressing me. I would be evaluated by a psychologist who validated my trans-ness. I would meet with three insensitive endocrinologists, desperate to be prescribed testosterone. These were formative years, vital to my growth, but by the end of them, I was still as restless, dysphoric and depressed as the day I came out to my mom. I knew it was time to move on, and beginning my medical transition was very much so a matter of life or death.

On August 18, 2014, I moved to a 300 square-foot apartment in New Orleans. On August 25, 2014, I gave myself my first testosterone injection. At the time, the swiftness and ease of entering a new healthcare system was jarring. I felt as though New Orleans validated me from the beginning. I knew I had found a home within a city wherein I could grow authentically. Since then, I’ve found a multi-faceted, thriving community, received a gender-affirming surgery locally and healed immensely from past and continuing trauma. I am forever grateful for the nurturing experience I’ve had the privilege of receiving from the entity that is New Orleans.

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