I'm transmasc, and I'm almost 18. So far, things have been pretty okay since I came out, but I'm afraid of how people will treat me once I'm an ‘adult’. Any advice?

It is hard to know how people are going to treat you as an adult. This is a very valid fear; thank you for sharing it. Much depends on your own experiences thus far — so many variables, including family, jobs, and social life, as well as your own personality, can impact how you view the world and how the world views you. (Big spoiler: you will spend most of your adult life wondering when you are going to feel like an adult.)

I believe the important thing in life is being true to yourself. It sounds like you are already living that life, having begun your transition journey. The best advice I can give is to find your people. Find real friends (and real family) who will support you 100% and will have your back on your journey through life. Remember that not everyone is ‘your people’ — not even everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community is your person. Not everyone you’ve ‘known forever’ needs to stay in your life, and not everyone who shares your bloodline is family. You need a stable support system, and I hope you find that if you don’t have one already. You don’t need to accept anyone new into your life who you don’t want there, or hang onto people who do not have your back simply because of a shared history. Don’t be afraid of letting go or walking away from those that do not honor your life, but don’t be afraid to love fiercely those that do. Find friends whose values align with yours, whose goals support your goals, and who honor your needs (and be that person for them, as well). 

The other thing to remember is that people are basically good. Give people the benefit of the doubt until they show you who they are. You may learn a few lessons, but you will also be much happier in the long run if you try to look at the good side of humanity rather than individual instances of the exception to the rule. There are some people in the world who think they should get a voice in how other people live their lives; don’t let them get you down. You will experience some hate (you probably have already); don’t let that change who you are. Most voices raised in hate stem from fear or ignorance. It doesn’t make the hate less painful to hear, but don’t hold on to it. Don’t internalize their hate. They are loud voices, but I assure you, they are the minority. Please remember that the world is on your side, even if it is just in a quiet whisper. You are perfect and loved just the way you are, and other people do not get to dictate how you live your life.

Love big, live big, and try to be the best person you can be.

What do you think about the term ‘gay panic’ changing from the legal murder of gay people to what the kids use it for these days — the feeling of a crush?

I feel that there is something to be said for reclaiming negative words to increase power in a community. However, I also feel that people should be aware of the history of a word or phrase before making the determination to reclaim a word. 

First, for any readers who are unfamiliar with the term Gay Panic, it has previously been used as a legal strategy for committing acts of violence, assault, and/or murder by claiming temporary insanity because of unwanted same-sex sexual advances. And it has disgustingly been a successful legal defense in the past. It is currently being used on social media as a term for catching feelings in the queer community.

I am not in favor of the new use of Gay Panic as a trend to describe puppy love, a crush, or new lust. Heteronormative power structures rely on the erasure of queer history to minimize the existence of queer people and increase the acceptance of their views on how society should be run. The history of justification of violence and prejudice against LGBTQIA+ in society should never be minimized. 

That being said, I do believe there is something to be said for the youth of the world taking a negative phrase and turning it into a phrase for the cuteness of new love, the joy of romance, and the beginning of relationships. And in the longer view, if they can coin a phrase to visibly put queer love and relationships in the spotlight, the entire community will benefit from the advancement of normalization of these relationships in our society.

But all in all, I’m a hard pass on this trend. I feel it is important for everyone to understand and respect the history and trials of those that have paved the way for them in society. The road to acceptance has been paved with the blood of those who dared to stand up and we should not minimize that sacrifice.

Send in your questions to surveymonkey.com/r/P55NPRX!

It's completely anonymous and open to the LGBTQ+ community and allies!

Patti (she/her) is an (almost) lifelong Richland resident, a local yoga teacher, and a Hanford employee. She is married to an amazing man, is a mother of three and stepmother of two, and a lover of multiple pets.

Patti has walked her own journey through identity and been the support for others on their journeys; she understands the need for — and the feeling of — searching for support. Patti is the current Chair of PFLAG Benton Franklin, and has served on past boards and committees in organizations dealing with domestic violence, addiction, leadership, and business.

With a passion for her community, family, friends, and helping others,  Patti is here to answer all your questions with the heart of a loving mother, but the forthrightness necessary when tackling difficult conversations. You are welcome to ask for guidance and advice in any topic that is near and dear to your heart, and know that you will be heard and respected in this corner.

Please note: Patti is unable to give legal or medical advice, but will instead point you to resources in our community where you can seek those answers.