You'll no doubt notice the change in the color of the Blue Bridge over the next week. Starting Friday, March 24, it will be lit pink, blue and white in support of Trans Visibility Week.
Grand Rapids Pride is putting together several events in support of the week which ends with the National Trans Day of Visibility on March 31.
In an effort to help educate our community about transgender individuals, Kayden Grinwis talked about not just his transition, but what it means to be transgender.
“It was terrifying."
Those are the words Kayden used when describing how he felt about telling his parents and his friends he was transitioning to a man.
"Is the job going to be accepting? Am I going to lose my job? My family, are they going to disown me," Kayden asked. "Relationships and dating how does that work? I don't know. At what point do you tell someone that you're actually trans if you try to date them?"
Kayden knew when he was 3 or 4 years old he wanted to be a boy.
"When I was a kid, I totally wore boys clothes every day," he said. "My parents were pretty great in terms of letting me dress how I wanted."
And they continue to be supportive -- even when he explained his transition didn't just include a name change, but hormone injections and surgery, “I didn't want to just appear masculine, I wanted to be that guy."
Kayden is 8 months into his physical transition and feels it's time to not just start telling his story, but also helping people understand what it means to be transgender.
“I think the trans community still has a lot further to go," he said. "People don't understand it. There's not the same sort of awareness about it and understanding about it."
Starting with something that some seems like an innocent question: asking a transgender individual what their former name was. "As an educational piece, that's called the 'dead name.' It's a dead name for a reason," he explained. "It's pretty disrespectful to ask that of a trans person."
Once the name is changed, make it a habit to use the correct pronoun. "It's a habit that you have to change with the pronouns."
Kayden says the biggest thing to remember is that transgender individuals want the same things in life: a home, job, family and above all -- acceptance.
“We absolutely need your support and need you to educate yourself on the stuff we've been talking about," he said. "At the end of the day, we're just people.
"We pay our rent, we go to work, we buy a house -- we go through the same struggles as everyone else. Everyone has their struggles."
Kayden's struggle is beginning to get a little easier because he says he can now finally live the life he's been wanting. "It's been amazing, I've gained so much confidence in myself.
"Feeling good about who you are and being able to be yourself is incredible. It's been an amazing journey."
That new confidence is what he's using to help inform others about being transgender.
"Just hoping to one step at a time, trying to change people's minds about the community and what it means to be trans one conversation at a time."
There is a rally Friday, March 24, at 7:30 p.m. on the Blue Bridge in Downtown Grand Rapids.
There are also events all next week leading up to the National Trans Day of Visibility on March 31.
- Own Your Gender
- Saturday, March 25
- 7 to 9 p.m.
- Grand Rapids Pride Center
- Youth Story Time
- Sunday, March 26
- 2 p.m.
- Bricks & Mortar at 955 Cherry Street SE
- TDOV: Stories of Strength, Activism, and Positivity
- Thursday, March 30
- 6:30 p.m.
- SpeakEZ Lounge
- National Trans Day of Visibility
- Friday, March 31
If you'd like to learn more about the events for the week or get information on what it means to be transgender, please contact grpride.org.
Watch Ellie candidly talk with Val about her transition and what being transgender means to her:
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