I’m here today only because others have been by my side. The greatest indebtedness I hold in my heart is to the teachers who always went beyond the call of duty to support me outside of the classroom. By extending a helping hand during dark times, and encouraging my growth, they helped me to remember a purpose, and to forge my own path. I’m also grateful to the transgender clinic at Cincinnati Children’s for its dedication to service, providing the resources necessary for me to heal and be myself. Last but not least, I’m grateful to my family and friends for being there for me every step of the way. All of these people have restored my sense of trust and reminded me that we all have the ability to be a source of strength for others — especially those who are alienated and unheard, and unable to stand up for themselves. In the beginning, I was limited to a perspective focused on survival, but today I’m looking forward to all of the possibilities in store for me.
For me, coming from a time when it was hard to justify the cost of binders which were easily torn apart — saving up was an important step to relieving me from a great burden. Even still, each purchase was a reminder that gender-confirming surgery was impossibly far away, and that I would never live comfortably in my skin or in peace. Binders could only do so much, and they certainly did very little when I was in particularly vulnerable situations. There are so many wonders this surgery will bring.
I’m thrilled and thankful to the Jim Collins Foundation for helping me finally reach this important step in my journey, a step which seemed to be farther and farther out of my reach. Thanks to their mission to serve the trans community, my voice was heard, and my dream answered.Caleb Bannister