56 - Levi Niederauer
Dog walker. Loves games, knitting and camping.
With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know….
“I knew something was different, probably around 4 or 5. I always hated my name, but I didn’t know why. I remember being really little and just crying about my name. Just feeling like it never fit me. I remember at age 6 or 7 and thinking that I hated my name and wanted to change it. I knew very young that something was off but I didn’t know what it was…”
How old were you when you came out?
“I was 34, I only came out about 5 month ago. It’s been an interesting experience. My family is not supportive at all, so that’s been really rough on me. But my friends have been so supportive. So it’s been this weird dichotomy with the greatest support in the world, and then being told you’re going to hell and we can’t support you…”
Biggest fears or concern about coming out…
“I actually live with my parents right now while I’m saving money to move out, so I was really worried about them kicking me out. Growing up they made so many anti-gay/anti-LGBTQ comments that my concern was that if I told them, their immediate response would be to want me out of the house. That didn’t happen, but, they have made it very clear that they are not happy with what they consider ‘my choice’. I think for them it’s religion... I’ve been lucky to find a very affirming church who has been very supportive though.
Frustrations within the community?
“Since I haven’t been out very long, I haven’t had much experience... Mostly my experience has been with the Instagram community, and I go to a transition support group. I think the most frustrating thing that I’ve seen is how willing some people are to be divisive over trivial things. Such as, trans men who are medically transitioning, treating trans men who either can’t or don’t want to medically transition as ‘not good enough’ or ‘less than’. There’s a huge debate going on whether you have to have dysphoria to be trans. We should be there to support each other and not fighting over these little things…”
Favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?
“One of my favorite things is how supportive it can be. I have met so many people both in person and online who have supported me wholeheartedly on my journey, through my highs and lows and through my questioning. It’s been amazing to see these people who were strangers just unite over this commonality that we have and just support wholeheartedly.”
What is something you would tell a younger you?
“You may not have the words to understand what’s going on right now, and it’s a long journey, but one day you will get to a place where you feel like yourself…”
Advice for anyone out there who feels like they can’t come out, or they don’t have a community to be a part of?
“That’s kind of tricky. I feel like some people are in a situation where they might not ever be able to come out due to safety reasons. So I would say, find a support system. Whether they know about what’s going on or not, they can help you through those hard days. For me, that’s what’s been so helpful, having the support of close friends to help me through, even when I didn't know what was going on.”
Someone once told me never ask a trans person their dead name. What’s your opinion on that?
“I would agree with that. I feel like it’s asking someone ‘Have you had surgery?’ It’s not information you need to know about a person, it’s invasive. I just don’t see why it’s anything you need to know. They are who they introduce themselves as, it doesn’t matter who they used to be.”
What in your life are you most proud of?
“I’m most proud of being alive. I struggled a lot for many years with suicide ideation and mental health problems. So just that I was able to get through it, that I got through it. That’s what I’m proud of.”
With the state of the nation and the world in its current state, what’s one thing you would change if you had the power?
“I would get rid of religion, as weird as that sounds... because I identify as Christian. But with so many different religions and the way that they view different marginalized people, I would just abolish religion altogether. Not that ‘you can’t practice’, just that it never existed. That would free up so many people to just love each other…”