Coming out as transgender senior year

May 11, 2016
Alanna Roberts and her mom Lindsey.
Alanna Roberts

High school seniors are counting down the last few weeks until graduation.

In the small township of Ida, Michigan, Alanna Roberts is looking back on a pretty big senior year.

She was the first student in her high school, and maybe even the whole township, to come out as transgender.

Those first few months were rough.

"A lot of guys threatened to rip out my hair extensions when I was like walking by,” she says, sitting on the front porch of the house she shares with her mom, stepdad and three younger brothers.  

Julisa Abad moved to Detroit five years ago. Since then she’s become one of the most outspoken advocates for transgender issues in the area.
Julisa Abad




Julisa Abad was was never kicked out of her home. She was never in the child welfare system. But her dad stopped talking to her years ago.  We spoke to her and her friend, Ashley Avery, as part of our Family Values documentary about the ways in which family rejection and acceptance impacts health outcomes for LGBTQ youth.


Based on hundreds of interviews with LGBTQ youth and families, the Family Acceptance Project codified a whole spectrum of rejecting and accepting behavior.
Family Acceptance Project

If you ask Cherish Blackmon about her gender, you won’t get a simple answer.

“Well, on the inside, I definitely identify my masculinity, but I also acknowledge my feminine on the outside because I know that God has given me the privilege to experience the opposite body of what I originally am in this lifetime," she said. "I feel like I’m both, but it feels like one.”

As for her sexual orientation, Blackmon says early on she knew she was attracted to women.

Tim Pierce / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Last month, lawmakers in North Carolina passed House Bill 2 - controversial legislation that blocks transgender people from using public bathrooms that match their gender identity, and stops cities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances to protect gay and transgender people.

I filled the winter holiday break with a clear out of my VHS tapes and also watching a lot of films. That's how I rediscovered a film that I used to teach in my women's studies classrooms. Ma Vie en Rose is a 1997 feature film that follows Ludovic who can't wait to grow up to be a woman. Frequently described as "touching" and "heartbreaking," Ma Vie en Rose is also a romantic, middle-class vision of having the resources to help children and families work through transgender issues. As transgender activists become more prominent in the public conversation around gender, documentaries, feature films, and non-fiction narratives tend to automatically focus on the adult experience. And when we, the media, do consider gender non-conforming children, the focus seems to be on middle-class kids and resources to help them. If you check out some of the books and films emerging about gender non-conformity, tell us how you think class impacts kids living in poverty who may be questioning their gender.

For LGBTQ youth, homelessness is a big problem

Jan 4, 2013
Kyle Norris

Dan Savage and Terry Miller created the It Gets Better Project to keep LGBTQ youth from committing suicide, and lives have probably been saved. But, not all of the rejection LGBTQ youth face comes from classmates; sometimes the rejection comes from family members and this can mean these kids are out on the street.