My name is Patrick Mess, I’m from Canisteo, New York. I’m 22 years old and one day in high school, I was in the locker room getting changed for class and I was really self-conscious so I always got changed in the bathroom of the locker room. And I remember I was, I just changed into my shorts and tshirt, and I had my actual clothes for the day wadded in my arms. And I was walking really quickly to go back into the actual part of the locker room and I get to my backpack and I’m shoving my clothes into my backpack as quick as possible. And I’m getting, I’m almost in the clear, I’m almost ready to get out, and this one girl just turns and looks at me and just goes, “I don’t know why you’re even still here, you should just kill yourself, you shouldn’t even bother to be here anymore.”
And I remember just like shoving my clothes quicker and quicker, and grabbing my backpack and running out of the locker room, not even looking back at her because I wasn’t protected by the teacher in the locker room. And if I looked at her I was afraid I would automatically break down.
I chose to move to Canandaigua, to go to Finger Lakes Community College. Four years after the incident happened in the locker room happened in my high school, I got involved. I became Safe Zone trained, I became Vice President of Prism which is the Pride group on campus, I got super involved in everything that was going on on campus.
One Halloween, one of my friends, very close friends even, had been having a lot of anxiety issues at the Halloween dance. So he went off by himself and was sitting on a staircase alone and he had an anxiety attack. Well, a professor happened to be walking by and saw him having this anxiety attack and called him in. Well this friend is also trans and they thought that…the professor thought that he was a girl, and reported him as being a girl. So when security found him, they misgendered him. And when I got there, Shane was crying and there is another boy who had been sitting with Shane trying to calm him down because he had found him, before Campus Safety did. And the guy is trying to calm down the Safety Officer because Shane reacted very negatively to being misgendered. So someone goes and grabs a member of the Student Life offices and I go and start talking to the Campus Safety Officer and I’m like, “Sir, I get what you were told but none of that is what’s actually happening here. He has an anxiety disorder, I’m one of his friends, he’s transgender, I’m transgender, and you are coming at this all wrong.”
And he just keeps arguing with me the same point over and over again: “I just need his ID. I need you to give me his ID so, I need you to give me HER ID, I need you to give me her ID.”
I’m like, “Shane is a boy. And the name that’s on his ID is not going to be the name that he wants you to know.”
And I was like, “If you need me to, I will get our advisor involved, I will get every member of Prism involved that I need to. I will throw the biggest fit I need to to get you to stop being so difficult.”
Shane finally has his ID in his hand and he’s shaking so bad and I’m almost shaking for him, and he has his thumb just pressed over his name. And he’s just holding it out and goes, “You can have my ID number and that’s all you’re getting from me.”
And the guy just goes, “It doesn’t matter what I get from you. If I look up your ID number in the system, I’m going to get your name.”
And I was like, “That’s not the point that’s being made here, you don’t need to know his name. His name is none of your business, his name that’s on file is none of your business. All you need to know is that you’re filing a report because this kid is having an anxiety attack and you made it worse.”
And Shane came to me right after we had gotten done with this and just sits down with me and just goes, “Thank you for coming and finding me because I don’t know what would have happened if you hadn’t done that.”
And this honestly just kind of pushed us to press for more teachers and stuff on campus, more teachers, more people employed by the school to have Safe Zone training. And it just honestly, it kind of, it made me feel like I actually had a purpose, coming to FLCC made me have a purpose. Because I honestly felt like I was useless and had no point, and what the girl said in the locker room was true, that I probably should have been gone. But knowing that I could be here for any of my kids when they needed me, it honestly made me feel important.