I am really proud to introduce this next writer... yes, he is one of my best friends, but sometimes it just hits me how incredible both he and his story are. So, I asked him to sit down and write for me and all of you. I hope you all find it to be as inspiring as I do.
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Read below and enjoy!
My name is Leo Goldthwaite. I live in Narragansett Rhode Island, with four other guys, and we all go to the University of Rhode Island. I am a Theatre major, with a concentration in Stage Management, and a Communications minor. I am an EMT and an avid Red Sox, Bruins and Patriots fan. I adore my four Yorkies, and I’m very close with my family. I strive to be as happy as I can, but I do struggle with anxiety and depression. Figuring out who I am and how to take care of myself plays a huge role in who I am today.
Honestly, I never would have seen myself where I am today a few years ago.
Throughout high school I struggled--and struggled deeply--with almost everything. I didn’t fit in with any group and was constantly hearing people making comments about me behind my back. Finding and keeping friends was nearly impossible, and I found myself just resorting to not trusting anyone.
School was hard. I had virtually no interest in the subjects I was forced to take and lacked the drive and focus to do even a small part of my work. But above all else, I was very uncomfortable with myself. So, I mostly kept to myself. I just wanted to be liked.
But, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was wildly different from everyone else--and clearly everyone else could sense that, too.
In fact, I distinctly remember getting a text late freshman year about how some girls shit-talked me in the locker room. Unsurprisingly, I started becoming depressed. I felt an immense feeling of both fear and loneliness. I knew something was off, and I was always trying to pinpoint what was wrong with me. I hated myself, and I hated getting up every day. I wore one jacket day after day to try and go unnoticed, so that eventually I just blended into the background of everyone else’s lives. I felt ashamed of who I was, but especially an aching shame for my body.
One of the only things that helped me get through was theatre. I loved having a distraction from the real world. Somewhere I could be in charge, where people respected me. I stage managed my first major show as a junior: West Side Story. I felt welcomed in that community. I was looked up to, and even supported by my peers. I wanted to make them proud. Another thing I loved about doing theatre was how happy it made others around me. Knowing my peers were having the time of their lives during the show made all the hard work so worth it to me. I knew theatre was what I wanted to work in the rest of my life. It helped me get through school but it also made me feel like I had a safe place to go and be who I was meant to be.
As I grew older, I began to figure out who I was. I noticed I liked more masculine clothes than feminine so I stopped wearing skirts to school. I was jealous of my brothers who got to play baseball because my high school, Thayer Academy, wouldn’t let me play as a girl.
Around halfway through junior year, I decided I had to be honest with myself... I was transgender.
At first I hated myself even more. I would tell myself I didn't deserve to be happy, I didn't deserve to be someone different. I kept it quiet. I didn't know who to turn to especially with this immense fear I had before, only being amplified exponentially. Towards the end of senior year, I came out as trans to two different teachers. I chose these people because I knew they could help, and that’s exactly what they did. First, they set me up with the school counselor and then helped me come out to my mom. There was talk about me not wearing a white dress to graduation, but I decided that I still wanted to fit in with so little time left. I was scared of being bullied, even on one of the most important days of my life. One week after graduation, I decided to come out to the world. But even then, I was very careful about who I chose to let see this announcement. I was scared that my extended family would reject me. I also didn’t let any of the girls I worked with know. I worked at a place that only hired girls and out of fear of being ripped apart and rejected by them, I decided to not come out to them. I felt guilty, especially with the two girls I worked with every week. After coming out, I received an outpouring of support and love, even from people I barely spoke to. I chose a new name: Leo. I kinda stole it from my grandmother who was a Leo and also loved lions. It feels to me that it represents strength and pride. I even have a lion tattoo on my wrist now to remind me of why I chose that name.
Slowly, I realized I deserved to be happy and feel loved.
Today, I live in a supportive community. My family is very supportive of who I am and I have two very supportive best friends, Arturo and Brandon, who live in my household with me. My friends at school all know and accept who I am. I started hormone therapy in March of 2017 and my name was legally changed to Elliot James in August of 2017. I see a therapist once a week, who helps me work through my anxiety. I would have never seen myself in the position I am today three years ago. I am happier, I feel safe, and I feel loved. I realized there is always light at the end of the tunnel. There is always change to come, especially if you dislike where you are now. Take steps to help yourself, don’t wait for someone to change your life for you.
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