Kayden

South Boston

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Hi I’m Kayden and I attended private Christian schools my whole life, including getting a degree from Liberty University.  I just started work as a behavioral health technician in a residential treatment center for adolescents.  I was raised by my grandparents, have a brother and sister, and I am a transgender man.

 

My grandparents raised us very conservatively and we didn’t really talk about LGBT stuff in our house.  If we did, they talked about LGBT people very negatively, calling them unnatural and sinful.  I was forced to change my tomboy ways upon entering puberty and it was extremely uncomfortable.  I ended up moving away at 18. When I was 22, I began researching what it was to be transgender. I remember being online and thinking, “Oh my God, there’s hope that I can finally be who I was always meant to be.” Because of how I was raised, coming out to my family was hard. My sister, who I had always been very close with, told me I would never be allowed around her future children.  She now has a one-year-old, but I have never met them. My grandmother cried when I told her and my grandfather didn’t say much. It’s taken them both years, but they try to be supportive. Recently, my grandfather called me Kayden in a prayer and I almost cried tears of joy. This small act of acknowledgement was so powerful, I wish everyone could know how it felt.

 

Coming out to the church was also rough. I was very involved in my church’s orchestra.  They were like a second family to me but, when I came out to them as a transgender man, they abandoned me and told me I could not play with them anymore.  Everyone at church, except the director, told me I was going to hell and that God made me female for a reason.  I was devastated to the point that I stopped playing violin for years. As I mentioned, I also attended a Christian college. I had heard stories about students who had been kicked out or were forced to go into conversion therapy because they were LGBT.  The stress of hiding who I was in order to continue my studies was awful.  I refused to use the bathrooms on campus, because I was scared of what might happen. I just held it in all day resulting in pain and cramping.  My relationship with God suffered so much because of all of this.  I felt alone and desperate, all because I was just trying to be me.

 

I have since found a gender affirming church and the relief is massive.  It has mended my relationship with God and I recently started playing violin again. As someone who believes in God, I believe everyone should treat others like they want to be treated and that we are all God’s children.   Updating non-discrimination laws in housing, employment, and public accommodations is about striking a balance.  I believe in the constitutional rights of churches and religious organizations and I know that affirming these rights does not have to come at the cost of the happy, healthy, and safe lives of LGBT people.