Special thanks to the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley for being our partner for this story.
My name is Olivia Page. I’m from Hilton, New York.
I did the very unique thing of transitioning from male to female in high school. I really came out around my senior year and things actually went pretty well. I mean, it was turbulent at first but eventually towards the end of my high school career I was out as “Olivia”, changed my name, pronouns, the whole shebang.
One of the worst periods in that time was actually after I transitioned. I had gotten out of class, started walking home, and got to the door, set my bag on the counter, got a little bite to eat, went up to my room, got on my computer. I wanted to write a quick paper that I’d been procrastinating. And ended up doing more of that procrastinating on Facebook.
I’d made a status about my boyfriend at the time. It was mellow, it was nothing obscene, just really thankful for him. Well this kid, who was a grade below me, I never really had a real conversation with, I forget his name, he decided to get on his computer, he must have come across this post that I made and decided to start writing this awful tirade on me. Everything from calling me “it” and a “thing” to talking about my parents and how a father could ever be proud of a thing like me?
I didn’t want to bring it to everybody, I didn’t want to seem like I was weak or hurt. And his friends started doing the same thing. Everything from weird, personal messages to the occasional text or prank phone call. I had friends who were furious but I felt so, for the first time, passive. It had really taken the wind out of my sails.
I tried to confront him in the library once. I felt this obligation to have a conversation with this kid. I wanted to tell him that what he did was completely unnecessary and if I did anything to ever upset him, I’d just want to know. He ended up just walking away and brushing me aside. I followed him for a little while, tried to flag him down, like, “Hey, seriously, I just want to talk.”
Honestly, I think that scared him because he got out of there, quickly, his buddies and all. And I’m sure behind closed doors, they were happy to make more mean remarks and insults. But they weren’t going to do it to my face, which is what I would have appreciated. At least have the courtesy to do that.
I think the kid ended up getting suspended but by that point in time, it didn’t matter. Whatever punishment you give a kid like that at that point, I found that it wasn’t going to change his worldview.
So there was this teacher in high school. When I first got there I found that the high school had a GSA, a Gay-Straight Alliance. And this was the first time I really had an opportunity to meet people who were out of the closet and my age. I got there to the first meeting and I met the advisor for the club, Mr. Akroyd. Mr. Akroyd was the first person I talked to after the cyberbullying incident and he seemed really upset by the situation because he cares about the students obviously. Mr. Akroyd and I just talked, we just talked. We tried to figure out a plan of action, like what are we going to do next, what am I going to do next? And he took care of me through high school. He had my back. He was one of the only adults I could trust with my identity and where I was going to be going in the future and who I was.
If you’re going through anything like this, if you feel like you’re alone, you’re not. No matter where you are, there’s always going to be a resource, and that even though there might be a lot of negativity that catches your attention, there will always be people who are good and who are kind and who can empathize with your situation. All you need to do is have the courage to reach out to them.