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Local Voices: Evangeline Wilder [LGBTQ+ Youth Rally]

Evangeline Wilder - LGBTQ+ Youth Rally - Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

We are here because queer kids are not always loved well by their families, their schools, their communities, their world. If they were, there would be no need for us to gather in their name to show our support for them. But I am so tired of that. I am tired of hearing what I already know, that it can be hard to be queer, that transgender children face structural and cultural barriers to their happiness and safety. That the legislature wishes to raise those barriers even higher than they already are. All these things are true, sure, but they’re so boring. We are more than that. There are twin truths that too often hide in the shadow of hate. These truths are glossed over even by well-meaning people who support LGBT rights. These are simple truths, but they are powerful. They are that it is possible to be queer, and it is a gift to be queer.

When I was a kid, being trans wasn’t even on my radar. I couldn’t even want it because I didn’t know it was possible. More and more young people today are able to change genders, in large part because transness has entered the zeitgeist—they know the name of their desire, and in naming it are able to claim it for themselves. But too many kids, even though they may be able to name what they want and who they are, do not feel like they can take it for themselves because it does not feel possible to them. When I changed genders, after what felt like ages of thinking in circles, worrying about what could happen to me, what people might think—when I finally did it, I was shocked to learn that it can be done. I mean, sure, I knew, in theory, that trans people existed. But that I could be one of them? That all it really took was choosing to be who I wanted to be? That was a surprise. Even more surprising is that I am so, so happy to be trans. I am trans, and most days, I don’t have to think about it. I am trans and I am loved by my family. I am trans and I am in love with my partner. It is possible to be trans and have all the things that make life sweet. Of course, I had some things going for me; whiteness and youth helped clear the path for me, but the path is there for all of us. You’ve just gotta take a step. It’s possible. It’s true.

When I was a kid, being trans wasn’t even on my radar. I couldn’t even want it because I didn’t know it was possible.

And the sister truth to this is that it is a gift to be queer. I believe this is true of all LGBTQ people, but I am interested today in speaking specifically to trans people. Being trans is not something to be tolerated or accepted or dealt with, it is cause for celebration. It is a blessing to be trans. We alone have the experience of radically shifting how we move through the world. We have the ability to change how our bodies look and feel, we name ourselves, we create ourselves. Few people have the opportunity to assert that kind of agency over embodiment, but we do. Every breath we take in the gender we have chosen is a triumph of the soul over the body. When we share this gift with the world around us, trans people become prophets of the possible. Because being trans is not only a blessing for trans people; we are a blessing for the world. We are examples of what is possible when one refuses to be bound by expectation and convention. We offer glimpses into a world in which all of us—not just trans people—are fully free. A world in which everyone creates themselves exactly how they want to be. The hallmarks of contemporary trans experience, hormones and name changes and pronoun shifts, all that—they are promises of a better future. For us and for you.

So, yes, trans kids and young people need to be supported and protected. But mere support and protection do not do them justice. They

deserve to be admired, celebrated, and loved. The trans middle schoolers who know exactly who they are. The queer kids who refuse to wait for a guarantee of safety before coming out. The young people who know they are different and know that difference is a thing of beauty. I look up to you more than anyone I know. Queer and trans kids, thank you for sharing your gifts with the world. I hope I can be like you when I grow up.


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