Accepting Transitions

How One Student Became Comfortable In Their Own Skin

Emily Leibold

Most people don’t get to choose their name, but this student did.

“In middle school, I had a teacher that used to call me Angelina Jolie and that was my favorite nickname that I ever had so I decided to shorten it and that’s how I got Joe,” said junior Joe Lunares. “My birth name is still a part of me, if someone uses it without knowing then I don’t get offended.”

Lunares always knew he was different than everyone else around him.

“I didn’t have a particular tag for what was happening, I didn’t want to jump to conclusions,” Lunares said.

During the summer between middle school and freshman year Lunares realized he was transgender.

“Going into freshman year I knew this was me and this is what I need to do to be a happier person.”

Luckily, Lunares didn’t have to deal with having unsupportive friends, family, or school administration.

He came out first to the faculty at school before he ever mentioned anything to his parents. He didn’t tell his parents until four months into freshman year. He was scared at first to tell them, but “once you tell them it should be fine” Lunares said to himself.

His parents reacted really well to the news.

“They’re completely supportive, they love me so much,” said Lunares.

“He’s been on testosterone for a while; and you can tell it in his voice and his physical body. It’s pretty exciting,” said sophomore and friend Malea Biswell.

For students who face parents who are unsupportive they can find help through support groups, therapy, talking to peers and teachers.

People they can reach out to at school consist of Mr. Vokolek, any of the counselors, any principal or Ms. Brennan.

“We have the Oak Park GSA [Gay-Straight Alliance] that they can go to if they need someone to talk to or some place to be and there are some community resources for transgender kids that they can go to” said counselor Kathleen Mahan.

Gay-Straight Alliance meets on Wednesdays after school.

“If they need help talking to parents we can work with them on that or if they are worried their parents won’t accept them,” said Mahan.

Students should seek help from our faculty if they are feeling uncomfortable in their own skin.

“Any one of us can run cover with parents and making those phones calls or them coming in and sitting down together and providing parents with resources,” said Mahan.

There is always something that can be done to help students.