“No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.” – Marsha P Johnson

Age: 18
Pronouns: He/They
Gender Identity: Transgender Man
Ethnic Background: White
County: Santa Cruz

Family & Household

How many siblings do you have, and where do you fall in terms of birth order?
I have 2 siblings; a half brother and a half sister. Both are from a different biological father than myself. I am the youngest.
What type of living arrangement did you have during your childhood (e.g., nuclear family, single-parent household, foster care)?
My early childhood was a nuclear family, but I went through foster care and then returned to my mother and step father after a year.
Did you experience any significant changes in your family structure during your childhood (e.g., divorce, separation)?
Yes; I’ve never known my biological father and my current father I met when I was 4. I went through foster care from 6-7 years old before being reunited with my biological mother and step father, but not my siblings.

Coping Mechanisms

How do you cope with stress or difficult situations?
One way I cope with stress is communication with others to help process situations. I also practice mindfulness activities such as being present, participating in a passion of mine such as baking, painting, or training martial arts. It helps me ride through urges to act irrationally or impulsively, allowing me to address situations responsibly and be more collected. Having external support in situations where I may be facing a meltdown or panic attack is incredibly useful. However, if I am by myself, using my nearby environment as a distraction from my current stressors helps calm me down.
Have you received professional help or counseling for any challenges you’ve faced?
Yes, I’ve been in therapy since I was 14. I wouldn’t have been alive had I not received help at that age. I’ve faced financial and familial instability, as well as abuse, from a young age. Being able to access resources and professional help, especially during a hard time, saved my life.
Are there any positive role models or supportive individuals who have influenced your life positively?
Of course. My Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructors are people who are incredibly important role models to me. They have shown me that I can be treated with kindness and care, which I had not been sufficiently provided by my parental figures growing up. They set an example for me, and motivate me to keep moving with my passions and education. But most of all, they are trustworthy and understanding of me. As an autistic person, I greatly struggle in social situations. Despite that they do their best to cater to my needs and accommodate me.

Educational & Employment

What is your current education or career path?
Having a special interest in cavies, rodents from the South American rodent family, I would love to go into exotic veterinary medicine at UC Davis, transferring from a local community college. It’s my dream to work with guinea pigs, capybaras, Patagonian maras, other cavies, and other exotic lagomorph or rodent companions.
Have your ACEs influenced your academic or career choices?
My adverse experiences have greatly slowed down my education. After being removed from foster care, I moved across the country and suffered from homelessness. I struggled in school due to my trauma. During this time we also began homeschooling me, and to this day I have been homeschooled. However, in my early teenage years I suffered from a traumatic event involving domestic violence and it held me back. Family medical issues further slowed down my education, and now I plan to move towards getting my GED and community college instead of a more conventional high school graduation.

Social Support

Do you and your friends feel comfortable discussing mental health topics openly?
To a certain extent we are. But there are ways in which it is more difficult than others. For me, it is hard to truly express my experiences as a victim of domestic violence and abuse because that involves a sense of vulnerability. However, I am proud to tell people I am autistic and advocate for myself in that regard.
What actions or behaviors help create a supportive environment among your friends?
Honesty and open communication are essential things for me, especially as an autistic person. I struggle with social cues, so clear communication is important. Respecting boundaries, and acknowledging needs, is something all spaces should offer to the people within it.

Future Aspirations

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
I would hope to one day live comfortably, and follow my dreams of being an exotic vet. As well as that, I’d love to continue to follow my passions as an artist, baker, and martial artist. What’s most important to me however, is that I still surround myself with supportive individuals who help complete me.
What is one thing you want to do or accomplish? (This could be learning a new skill, visting a new place, something related to school/work/life/relationship)
Not to set the bar high, but I’d love to get a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu!