SC is 20, a slim blonde person with an androgynous name (I was expecting a guy) and pink dyed hair who self-describes as transgendered and specified she wouldn’t indicate either male or female on the app form.  She was referred by an employment agency and was expecting to be philosophical rather than to talk about her personal experience.  However, she allowed herself to be ‘peeled’ and I had the impression she moved fairly quickly to enjoying the process of making me work hard to get to know her.  I found her very intelligent and articulate, well-grounded in herself and quite charming.  In some ways, hers is the ‘classical’ story – bright girl from rural middle-class family kept to a strict and contained life and can’t wait to get to the big city to have a ‘normal’ life – but with some interesting twists and insights, including a found family.  She is insightful about the potential value of extra-curricular activities and the downside of prioritizing sports.  

FM: Okay, so let’s start with a few details about your family of origin, who was in the family, where you lived, how you paid the rent, etc.                     

I lived with my grandparents, my mom’s parents, and my mom outside of Westville.  Grandparents paid the rent.  Grandpa worked at the high school.  Mom paid for groceries for herself and I. 

FM: Okay.  Usually what I try to do – it works in about one out of three cases – is number the places you’ve lived since you left home.  Does that work for you?  Or began to make the decision to leave, because I’m interested in the thought process, what goes into making the decision but also what stops you from going.

I think I was about 16 when I went to high school in Middletown rather than Westville.  So my friends were all [in Middletown].  I started to attend parties with my friends and staying overnight without getting permission from my mom.  Later that year, I moved out with my boyfriend to Middletown.  The next year I moved back home because I was having trouble keeping up with school.  And then when I was 18 I moved out again, this time on my own for about half a year.  Then I moved back in with my mom again, but she had her own place which was in Eastville.  Then I was in college, I was 19 when I started.  I moved to [the GTA] for half a year.  When I dropped out I moved back in with my mom for four months and then I moved back into Middletown again by myself, which I have been ever since. 

FM: And you’re 20 now.  Okay, can we unpack those decisions, just a bit, the reasoning or circumstances that influenced the moves? 

[#1] To move out with the boyfriend:  basically I used him as a place to go because I wanted to be closer to where my friends were, where the parties were, where the action was. 

FM: Were you ‘wild’?  How wild?

I was raised really strict, religious, both my grandparents and my mom.  So to them I was extremely wild.  I don’t know.  I experimented with drugs and alcohol for the first time, but 16 isn’t really that young compared to a lot of my friends.  A lot of people I know start when they’re 13.  I’d never even smoked a cigarette until I was 19.  Even school dances I wasn’t allowed to go to, so I had to sneak out to those.  I think the first time I ever left home without my mom saying it was okay was to a high school dance. 

FM: And why did you go to school in Middletown instead of Westville?

Westville has no high school and I didn’t want to go to Eastville High.  I knew too many people there.  I’d heard it wasn’t the best school when it came to teachers and everything in general.  Originally I wanted to go to [an art-oriented high school in Middletown.

FM: This is the arts school that is currently under threat of closing, right?

It’s closed. 

FM: Right.  And sad.

Yes, my half–sister goes there.  Um, I wasn’t allowed to go to [that school] because I’d already attended grade 9 at a different high school and you weren’t allowed to go into the arts program unless you start in grade 9. 

FM: So are you an artist?

Sure, yeah.  Not professional or anything.

FM: What kind of art?

Drawing, poster art.  Painting.

FM: Okay, back to the story- where was the half-year of high school? 

Moscow.  My mom taught there.  It was an international school.

FM: So you were there for only a brief time

A year; grade 9. 

FM: Okay, that’s a wrinkle.  So into a different high school than your preferred choice in Middletown, but your mom is driving you? How are you getting in? 

My mom fought with the bus company until I was allowed on the bus. 

FM: Okay. 

But that changes.  It was my grade 12 year, first semester and after 2 years the bus company decided it didn’t want to take me to that high school any more so I had to do a semester at the regional Catholic school.

FM: Well, that’s a checkered high school career for odd reasons.  But your social gang was mostly connected with the one high school?

Yeah, when I went into the Catholic high school, I knew 2 people, that’s all.

FM: Okay, where from here – what are the important decision points in your story? 

Okay.  When I moved in with my boyfriend I called my mom on my cell phone, told her I wasn’t coming home on the bus and that I wasn’t coming home at all, and not to come get me.  And…we had a huge argument later.  I stayed overnight at my boyfriend’s and went back a few days later to get my things.  My mom was screaming the whole time, and crying.

FM: Did she see this coming at all, d’ya think?

No. 

FM: Because it occurs to me that if she suspected that you were feeling constrained or in the boonies living with grandparents, she was a bit dramatic in finding a very exotic option, the Moscow gig. But maybe that was more about her than about you – maybe she was the one making decisions to leave home?

Yeah, that was all her.  I protested going for months because I didn’t want to start grade 9 in some foreign country but she took me to this two-week mission training course in the states where I met a lot of kids my age who were about to go through the same thing and that changed my mind a little.

FM: So this trip was church-related?

Yes.  Not related to the church we went to, but she knew a Christian woman who worked there who invited her when a teaching position opened up. 

FM: What kind of work did she do at home?

She taught middle elementary school. 

FM: And where was your dad, and when did the half/step sister come into the picture?

Three years later when he showed up at our door; I’d never seen him before in my life.

FM: You were how old?

16.  A lot of stuff happened that year.  That didn’t really come into the reason why I moved to Middletown, not consciously anyways.  But now that I’m here, I’m glad to have my dad’s family live in Middletown so I get to be closer to them now. 

FM: So he moved in and you moved out, basically, and then it sounds they – your mom and dad – also moved out to Eastville.

No.  My dad lives with his new wife and their 3 daughters and have lived in Middletown the whole time.  Eight years, something, I don’t know.

FM: Well, how come you never saw him before 16 and then all of a sudden he appears.  What was that about?

Apparently he tried to track me down before and my grandparents told him he wasn’t allowed to see me.  I was actually looking for him at the same time as he found me, sending out letters [to people] in the phone book who had the same name, but none of them turned up anything.  My mom claims that she didn’t know where he lived or if he was even alive, but if I’d known he lived in Middletown I’d have tried a lot harder.

FM: So I’m guessing here – you’re making me work quite hard at uncovering this story – that your parents weren’t a couple, you were conceived–

Well, no, they were married for a few years, got married when they were 18 and my mom had me a few years later and she claims that my dad left before I was born.  But when I met him, he has pictures of him holding me when I’m about two and he knows that my name was changed because my mom named me a different name at birth and then changed it two years later and he knows my second name.  So she raised me telling me things about my dad that weren’t true. 

FM: And your grandparents were in on the reconstruction of truth as well, it would seem?  And ‘protecting’ you from him?

I guess so.  I don’t really know who to believe. 

FM: Okay, so we have you in housing #1, with your boyfriend during grade 10–

I’m a year ahead.

FM: So you were a good student?

I started to slack off mid grade 10 because it’s when I found out I had social anxiety.  I was experimenting with drugs, alcohol, had a lot of stress in my life due to family issues, arguments with my mom.  I was a really good student before that.  In grade 8 I was valedictorian, had top marks. 

FM: You indicate on the app that you’re transgendered.  When does that and how does that play a role in this story? 

Okay.  Well, I’ve felt like I wanted to be the opposite gender since I was three.  Then when I hit puberty, those feelings started to surface a little bit more. I didn’t come out to my mom until around the same time I was in college, so she didn’t really have any clue.  I’m sure it would have made a difference if I would have told her before that, because she would have been more worried about me and we would have argued more. 

FM: So did you think about coming out in your rural community and decide not to, or was getting into a bigger world – Middletown – a way to avoid even the possibility of that?  I think that kids with gender and sexual orientation issues are particularly vulnerable in small communities because it’s harder to hide, but I don’t have any data on that yet, so if you could help out with that, it would be appreciated. 

Okay, sure.  I didn’t come out to any of my friends in Eastville, which is where my mom was living when I came out to her, until the same time I came out to my mom.  And even then, it was just my close friends that I told.  Most of the people I know from Eastville are from church, so I wouldn’t go around broadcasting it or correct people when they used the wrong pronoun or even – I would just try to avoid the whole thing.

FM: Act like it was of no interest to you, the whole issue? 

Yeah, except to the friends I trusted and figured they wouldn’t tell anyone.  The friends I had, even though they went to church, were a little bit more open minded.  Besides, I had to get it off my chest.  But my mom’s friends or just people that lived there, I wouldn’t tell. 

FM: Okay, thanks for that.  So high school, back/forth with mom when you weren’t able to arrange appropriate housing in Middletown.  When you moved in with the boyfriend, it was to his parents’ house?

No, he lived on his own.  He was 3 years older. 

FM: Right.  So that relationship – no, you said you moved back to your mom’s because your school was suffering, right?

Yeah, and I wasn’t on welfare, I just quit my job which was paying for half of the rent at my boyfriend’s, so I had no way to look after myself. 

FM: But with no intention of staying put, just waiting for the next opportunity.  Which was…

I finished high school and then I moved back out.  And got on welfare.  Then for a brief time I moved back to my mom’s before I went to college.

FM: And what did you take in college?

Communications and media.  I wanted to take film but the course was full so I took the next best thing and decided half-way through that I didn’t want to invest any more time or money in it, so I dropped out.  Stayed for the rest of the year in [GTA], actually went to a welfare office in Toronto because I was planning on staying in Toronto but it was too difficult to move my things to a friend’s place and try to find a place to live.  I was also worried about paying OSAP back.

FM: And were you working at this time – actually, talk a bit about you and work, generally.

No I wasn’t working.  My first job I got in Middletown when I was 15, still living in Eastville but I would take shifts after school, walk down from my school and work for a few hours, get my parents to pick me up.  Then I got a transfer to Eastville because Tim Hortons opened up in Eastville.  Then I when I was at my boyfriend’s, I applied for a job at Tim Hortons in Middletown again, different location.  I got it and didn’t work very long at all before I quit.  The reason why I quit: I just stopped going altogether, I didn’t pick up my paycheck because my social anxiety was getting really bad at this point and I didn’t even want the job any more.

FM: What were the symptoms at that time?

Uh, occasionally hearing voices, not people really talking but muttering, unclear voices that I knew weren’t actually there.  People laughing.  Every time people laughed I’d think they were laughing at me.  Thinking people were saying my name when they weren’t.  Walking on the street, especially by myself, seeing shadow people.  I don’t know how much was drug related because I was doing drugs at the time:  smoking marijuana regularly, every day; sometimes ecstasy and cocaine, sometimes mushrooms and that’s it.  And alcohol.

FM: Who diagnosed you? 

It wasn’t my family doctor, it was a psychologist that my family doctor recommended.  My counselor went with me but the psychologist was a one-time interview because she [counselor] couldn’t do the diagnosis herself.  They actually told me I had psychosis, bi-polar and depression, but after I stopped doing drugs on a regular basis, most of the psychosis went away and was replaced with fear of going outside by myself in social situations with large groups of people.

FM: And where was the counselor from?

Centretown. [a larger town nearby]

FM: What agency, what affiliation?  Or how did you come to get hooked up with her?

My family doctor is from Centretown. 

FM: And what did he think he was referring you for, why did he think you needed counseling?  Or maybe my bottom-line question is when this was, where in the process?

I was 15.  I didn’t want to have anything to do with counselling.  My mom called the family doc and set up the appointment.  I didn’t want to go.  She made me.  It was because we were arguing a lot and she figured something was wrong with me because while we were having arguments I would storm off and start walking. Some times I would say I would walk to Middletown and she was worried about me. 

FM: Okay, so early intervention, really.  And even if you weren’t keen to begin with, you appear to have made your peace with that and maybe even came to appreciate it or at least use it effectively?

Not really.  I still dislike the counselor that she made me go through a lot.  At least I understand myself a little better because of the diagnosis and have more respect for my mental health.  But I still sort of resent being forced into counseling.

FM: And are you still connected with the counselor?

No, when I moved to Middletown I was hooked up with a counselor from the same group.  Trying to think – CMHA? It’s like a little agency…  I don’t see her any more.

FM: And are you on meds?

No.

FM: Were you?

No, my mom tried to strongly recommend getting them for me, and even talking to my counselor and my family doctor without me being there, but I always refused them because I didn’t want to end up a zombie, I guess.  Just having to rely on medication.  I had a close friend who took medication for social anxiety and he relied on it to a certain extent – on the days when he forgot to take his meds he got really grumpy and I didn’t want to end up like that. 

FM: Okay.  So we got you as far as [GTA], finished with school, at least for now, how’d you get back to Middletown? 

When I realized that living in Toronto wouldn’t really be a good idea if I couldn’t find a job right away.  And I didn’t really want to be too far from my dad’s family, either.  I moved back in with my mom in Westville, temporarily.

FM: And how long have you been back in Middletown for this time, and what’s the plan?

Almost 11 months.  The plan…right now I’m on welfare. I applied for disability about a year ago and haven’t heard back from them.  I did apply to lots of jobs, mostly retail.  Haven’t heard back.  Probably going to go back to high school, independent studies because I graduated without any math or science, grade 12 credits.  And if and when I go back to college, I do not want to do anything art related.  I want to do biology or something science-y. 

FM: Because?

Art is a really personal thing to me.  I don’t like being stressed about how people see my creativity or having to work within certain boundaries to try and sell it.  Science is hard, factual, unchanging stuff that is more, I dunno.

FM: And also tends to lead to better paying work

Yeah, that too. 

FM: Okay, I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that you do not look to me like someone who is disabled.  I see shy or retiring, certainly wary and careful, but if it were my job, I’d say let’s see if we can hook you up with someone and something that marches to your drummer, and nurture you into being productive with your evident talents and smarts and social presentation – because social anxiety or not, you present very well.  Now if your employment counselor said that to you, what would you say?

I would say sure, get me a job.  If I could find a paying job in Middletown that I could feel comfortable in, I would definitely go for it.  As for being disabled, it’s a really internal thing.  I get racing thoughts, really uncomfortable and nervous.  Not in a one-on-one interview setting, but when it comes to places like malls where there are a lot of people, schools, it’s a completely different feeling.  Yeah.

FM: Right.  Thanks.  The other thing I’d like to poke at a bit is the relationship with your dad, which seems from what little you’ve said, warmer and fits you better than your relationship with your mom, and your grandparents are MIA (missing in action) in this story.  So talk a bit about your dad, who he is and what he is to you.  If you would.

Okay.  I’ve only known my dad for four years and even that isn’t living with him, it’s like once a week at best that I see him.  It’s just recently felt like he’s my dad.  He feels more like a family friend or an uncle.  He’s easy to talk to, for the most part accepts me for who I am, being trans, he’s really open about that stuff.  But we’re not as close as I’d like us to be.  He also has bi-polar and when he’s in a bad mood is difficult to talk to, especially since I don’t know what to say because I don’t know how he’ll react. My sister, half-sister, who’s a few years younger than me seems to know how to interact with my dad better than I do.

FM: She knows him better, all her life. 

Yeah, his bad side especially, she knows how to deal with him when he’s upset.  When he gets upset around me, I just kinda hide in my shell and don’t know what to say to him.  I look up to him, though. 

FM: Does he work?

Yeah.  Grocery store.  Various jobs.  He doesn’t seem to keep them for very long.  I’m kinda like that too, I guess.  He’s going back to college, though. 

FM: In [what]?

Social work. 

FM: And do you think that’ll be a good fit? 

Yeah.  He understands people on lots of level.  He’s easy-going for the most part.  Yeah, he’s a good person, cares about other people. 

My mom and grandparents:  the reason why I haven’t talked a lot about my grandparents is because they’ve stayed out of the way when it comes to raising me, mostly.  My mom has a strong stubborn personality and I’m an only child – I’m her only child – so I don’t think my grandparents felt like they had a right to make decisions when it comes to raising me, what I’m allowed to do, where I’m allowed to go and stuff.  Because in high school, I didn’t really talk a lot about this, but I was pretty restricted about what I was allowed to do.  I had, like, a curfew, I wasn’t allowed to stay overnight with anyone my mom hadn’t met beforehand, and she strongly encouraged me to have them over to my place instead, which was boring for most of my friends because Eastville is boring and my internet use was restricted.  I wasn’t allowed to swear, I never had any video games or anything, watched the same movies over and over again.

FM: Yeah, so not a ‘mod’ life, pretty old-fashioned or as you say, restricted.  Was that the influence of the church, or your mom’s idea of what to do? 

A bit of both.  I didn’t so much mind being ‘old fashioned’ because I got along well with my grandma, we’d watch old movies together and she’d teach me stuff about sewing and I enjoyed it.  The only time it became difficult was when it came to my friends who lived in Middletown.  When I hit high school, even grade 9 being in a private school with other missionary kids, I realized just how restricted I had been and found it hard to relate to people because of my lack of knowledge of media. 

FM: No cocktail chatter. 

Yeah. 

FM: Okay, are we ready for the finish-up questions or is there something more you want to add first? 

No, that’s good. 

FM: Okay.  First question.  In order to give the people who will read this story some idea of the shape or focus of it, what would you say is the Most Important Event in the story?  Could be something that happened, or something that didn’t happen, an omission.  Whaddya say?

I don’t know if there was one single event that stands out to me because of the amount of interactions I had with my mom based on our differences when it comes to religion or ideas or even just having to live in the middle of nowhere.   I guess the one time where I vividly remember all the emotions and the feelings I had was the first time I ran away from home to go to that school dance, which was in Middletown.  My friend came to pick me up, I met them part-way down the road.  It was in the fall, so it was dark.  The girl who was driving was kinda freaked out that I met them in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere.  But I remember feeling just full of adrenalin because I had just walked out of my house, didn’t tell anyone where I was going, they didn’t even recognize that I had left.  And going to have fun with my friends. 

FM: The grass on the other side of the fence, ‘normal’ life beckoning???

Yeah, I guess so.  It was funny because even though I was only 15 years old, they’d been to school dances before, all my friends, and thought they were kind of lame, so it was funny that this was the peak of the excitement in my life.   

FM: Okay, next is the judgment question.  People reading this story will form an opinion about how they think it will turn out, whether for the good or the not so good.  How do you see it unfolding for you, good, not so good, optimistic?  What? 

Obviously when you’re 20 you think a lot about that.  I know that I have potential. I just need to pick up the pace a little when it comes to certain parts of my life.  I’m not satisfied with how I’m doing right now.  I know I can do a lot better with myself if I put my mind to it.  I really don’t like being on welfare and I actually think it’s kind of inhibiting, in a way, because if you have money you don’t have that urge to go make money and even though you don’t have a lot of money, it’s enough to live off of.  Also because they take half of your paycheck, it doesn’t give you much of a push to go get work.  And the reason why I didn’t start independent studies this month is because I haven’t talked to my worker about the $75 they need for books.  Just little things that you’re restricted by, like money for books, my OSAP debt -- I was audited so I’m in debt for that too – are really discouraging when it comes to doing something for your life.  Especially for me, it really depends on the day because of my bi-polar. On a good day, I can see myself finishing school, going to university, getting a degree, a BA, even being a doctor or something.  But on a bad day, I can see myself being on welfare when I’m middle-aged and doing nothing except smoke and drink all the time, especially since it’s hard to get a job in Middletown without qualifications and I see middle-aged or older people doing that exact thing.  I really don’t want to end up like that and I don’t think I will, but there’s always the doubt that I will. 

FM: Can I ask some details about OSAP and I’m not familiar with this being audited bit.  Can you explain – how much debt you’re carrying and the audit bit.

I think right now my OSAP debt is between $6-7000 which isn’t bad, really.  My mom has paid some of it off, but I don’t have anything to show for it except a few college credits, which really sucks.  I was audited last year for my income tax because I got one of my mom’s friends to do it, me being cheap, and she made a mistake when it came to my living situation.  I was paying to live at residence at college and claimed it as rent – I wasn’t supposed to so I owe them $500. 

FM: Okay, an understandable error, but I see how it bit you in the bum.  Okay, I was thinking an OSAP audit, never occurred to me it would be an income tax audit!  And re the OSAP, the average is apparently $20,000 – but that is for something that ends up with a certificate if not a job. 

FM: Alrighty… two last questions, advice questions.  What advice would you give your younger self, whether or not your younger self would take the advice, what would you advise that you think would make the story better or easier or whatever?

I would go back to myself when I was 12 or 13, maybe younger, and tell them to look harder for my dad because even though my grandparents were great and supportive, my dad connects with me on things my mom and grandparents don’t agree with…  my mom hasn’t touched alcohol since I was born, hasn’t had a boyfriend, is really embarrassed about what she did when she was my age.  So it’s hard to relate to her about a lot of things and she makes no effort to understand certain parts of my life or even acknowledge them because of her religious beliefs.  I think having my dad there for the rough patches of my high school life would have been nice. 

FM: Actually, I was prepared in my mind to hear you say that the absence of your dad was the pivotal element in your story.  That’s the story I was making in my head.  And the other part was that you ‘wore’ the ‘wrecked my life’ shirt for your mom, that you were daily proof to her that she had made a mistake and she was going to be certain that you didn’t do anything close to that, so she kept you pretty much in a bubble.  A social bubble, anyways.  So that was my story about you, and I thought that tension was still not articulated – these last comments are the first you’ve approached that even.  Anyway, that’s my take as I was hearing you. 

FM: Still me.  The other thing is that the easy hypothesis would be that your adolescent furor, the tension, was about gender identity or sexual preference, but it seems that is not the main theme at all, just another strand in the story.  Yeah?

Well, I decided not to focus on that so much because of the reason for this interview – I figured it was about differences about communities and didn’t want to talk so much about myself.  Obviously the differences between me and my mom are a bit of a touchy subject for me, I didn’t want to get into it too much.  It’s still difficult to keep from getting into fights with her and keeping a good relationship because that’s what I want.  About the gender identity thing, my mom never even knew about it or claims not to, and I kept it pretty much a secret from everyone, almost until I was done high school, so it wasn’t really an issue at the same time I was going though so many other changes.

FM: Yup.  And you may have noticed I give myself permission to be very snoopy, and push-back is fine.  Okay, last advice question… what advice – I’m laughing because the timing on this sucks… What advice would you give those of us who would wish to be helpful to young people like yourself to make the transition and the choices easier or smoother or…better in some way.  What advice for us? (And don’t say, mind your own business, given my comments...)

This isn’t really practical advice, it’s just a personal suggestion.  High school sucks for everyone.  You have to deal with your first crushes, your friends back-stabbing you.  Being bullied. Making decisions that will affect the rest of your life career-wise or schooling.   Don’t be afraid to push your parents.  Get it all out.  Rebel if you have to, wear stupid clothes because in a few years no one will care.  You need to express yourself because if you keep it all locked in, it’s not going to go away, it’s just going to come back harder and stronger each year that you don’t let yourself out.  I wish that everything in my life that I did I had done earlier so that at this point in my life I would be over the need to get out of my house and go exploring and would be more ready to settle down to committing to post-secondary or to a job because I think I’ve always been a little bit delayed when it comes to striking out on my own.  Not so much moving out, because I moved out at a pretty young age compared to some people, but more the fact that I didn’t come out of the closet.  I dunno.  I didn’t try hard enough to tell my mom that I needed friendships that were closer, that I needed to see my friends on a regular basis, not just during school hours.  And if you get past that point in your life when you’re under the control or care of your parents and getting out on your own, you don’t want to waste time mucking around trying to make friends with every one that you didn’t get a chance to earlier because you’ll be at the age where you need to pull yourself together and get serious about your goals.

FM: That is very thought-provoking.  I’m hearing you say high school should be a fuller, safer, more ‘juicy’ time that really supports the developmental task of figuring out who at base you are.  Which I think it used to be much more than it is now; I think when my kids were in high school, there was a lot more time and permission for exploration and screw-ups, particularly academic, than there is now.

Yeah, I think removing grade 13 was a big mistake.  It could be that I was a year ahead and wasn’t as mature as everyone else.  Also that I was out of town and wasn’t allowed to see my friends as often as say as people who lived in town and could hang out after school.  Made high school a huge, a bigger deal to me. 

FM: And no sibs, so not even that ‘peer’ company.  That might have softened things a bit, a sib close to your age.  Maybe… 

Can I say something else?  For a younger kid, in elementary school, I was really mature for my age and actually enjoyed the company of adults and could carry on conversations with them without getting bored.  But then when I hit high school, I realized what I had been missing with friends my age and felt like for a few years I wasn’t getting any more mature.  Now I feel less mature than other people my age because I still have the need to be immature to a certain extent. 

FM: That the getting-it-out-of-your-system comment?

Yeah. 

FM: Okay, so some of the advice to us would-be helpers is re-think high school and pay more attention to social appropriateness – not as in ‘being good’ but as in exploring the skills being developed at each stage of childhood… something like that?  Because you talk about not being a kid when you were a kid and not being as adult now as you think you ought to be, so there’s some issues about the fit of the timing.  I can’t quite put words around it just yet…but I’m going to think about it. 

Can I make a suggestion?  I think after school programs and other groups for high schools, like – I was never into sports so any other kind of high school programmes would have helped me develop socially.  There was nothing at my school that I was interested in when it came to extracurricular activities.  Even like LGBT Straight Alliance consisted of a handful of kids and if I’d joined them, it would have been like coming out, because everyone would have known.  Yeah, I wish I had joined something like a chess club or if there had been an after-school drama or art club, that would have been good for me.  Nothing too competitive but something that focuses on building relationships with your classmates outside of school. 

FM: Right on.  Some other participants have spoken at this same issue from some other perspectives – this is something that we could do something about. 

My best friend, the one who took me to that school dance was also from out of town and she joined the rugby team, I think just because she wanted something to do after school other than go home.  She was part of a group who didn’t know her parents – she was at a group home, she hated it there, she never wanted to go home – but the rugby created more problems for her, she found herself getting into trouble with the other girls because she wasn’t good at it.  Just the competition, it was too intense.   The fact that the big focus is on sports and sports aren’t for everyone.  There’s a lot of competition, a lot of people high school age don’t have a good body image or aren’t confident enough to compete so there should be a bigger range of extra-curricular programs. 

FM:  Thank you.  We done?

Yeah.