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Vladimir

Age 20, Santa Ana

Before moving to Santa Ana, I lived in Guatemala where I was bullied. I’m transgender so I wasn’t acting feminine, and the director of the school told me that they didn’t accept gay people so they kicked me out. I have depression, PTSD, and anxiety from what I went through.

When I came to Santa Ana, I was still being bullied. I went through high school with self-harm and suicide attempts. I wanted to transition to become a male. I was going through a lot of cutting and I went to mental hospitals and shelters, and I was meeting a therapist every day at my school. One day she told me she wanted to take me to the LGBT Center and would go with me for support. I’m scared of new people so at first, I was afraid to go. But her being there was a support, and even when I felt like I didn’t want to go, I would push through for her.

The LGBT Center helped me talk to the school. I told each class my story and that I was trans. After that, they changed their minds and became my friends who were supportive. It made this a comfortable space and I never got bullied after that.

A lot of youth don’t find that support so it causes a lot of self-harm and suicide. We need more mental health services for people over 18, because once you become an “adult” you’re not getting any help. And instead of being like happy children’s mental hospital, with snacks and coloring, the adult ones are scary. Once you are over 18, people stop caring about you.

Youth shouldn’t give up because there’s always light at the end of the tunnel, even from places where you don’t know there is help.

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