Transgender teen talks about life in school
By Rachel Welte
Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 8:35 p.m.
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. -- Alex Roberson is a senior at Wasson High School. He "came out" two years ago, when he was 16, as "trans" or transgender.
He said it was not and has not been easy.
"To me basically it is feeling like I was born in the wrong body, like I was not supposed to be born a girl but rather a boy," Roberson said. "I mean I get treated like an outcast at school. They do not come near me and it is weird in the locker rooms. I do not even change there anymore, and I do not use the bathrooms at school because I need a special pass to use the faculty bathroom."
In an attempt to meet other transgender high school and college students, Roberson started attending meetings at Inside-Out Youth Services.
It is the sole lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth organization in the El Paso County region.
"We primarily do youth support and discussion groups, and those groups are youth lead and there are adult facilitators that help the youth explore their identity and the LGBT world and issues that come up for them," said, program and volunteer coordinator Jessica Stohlmann.
Stohlmann said around 1/6 of the young people who attend Inside-Out are transgender.
For Roberson that means he has someone he can relate to.
"I can actually be myself more here than anywhere else, and it is comforting to know I am not the only person who is going through it. This place is like my safe haven," Roberson said.
Along with Roberson, other young people in the Pikes Peak region are working to educate the community about the trans lifestyle.
Adison Petti started Trans-Campus at Colorado College in 2007.
"Specifically it is about how to eliminate the barriers to education and social services that trans people are facing, specifically access to higher education, employment and things like that," Petti said.
Petti said one of Trans-Campus' goals is to help shift institutional policy so that organizations, such as college campuses, can be fully inclusive of their trans-students.
"On college campuses and at high schools as well, that centers on things like how can trans students change their legal or their preferred name in their academic records, or how can we make sure they can access what bathroom is appropriate for them, gender neutral bathrooms and gender neutral housing," Petti said.
As for Roberson, he said the GLBT clubs, organizations and outreach groups have been instrumental in his life, helping him accept who he is. He said there is no reason anyone should hide who they are.
"We are people. We are just like everybody else, so there is no reason to be ashamed of who you are," Roberson said.
To learn more about Inside-Out Youth Services click here.
To learn more about the Pride Center click here.
To learn more about the Gay and Lesbian Fund click here.