My entire life I have grown up with boys as my best friends, as team mates, classmates, family members. I grew up as a “tomboy”, played on boy’s sports teams when I was younger, and tried my best to keep up with them until it got to the point where I couldn’t keep up any longer.

I then played on female sports teams. We had shorter practices than the boys and less access to equipment. It was not fair from the beginning.

My former high school is locally famous for being predominantly LGBTQ+. The kids who did not fall under that category were not treated the same. We were told to leave class if we made an argument about the unfair treatment, which meant missing out on important lessons. We were sent to our principal if we “misgendered” someone, accidental or not. We had strict dress code rules that did not fall upon the LGBTQ+ group of students.

The worst part of my high school experience was the bathrooms: anyone could use any bathroom. We had gender-neutral bathrooms, however, it was up to the person what bathroom was suited for them. I felt unsafe in our women’s bathroom, so I would often use the gender-neutral bathrooms. A teacher caught me using the facility and I was sent to the office and was told that because I am a straight woman I do not need to use those bathrooms.

I now am 19-years-old working in construction with predominantly men who respect and accept me more than my own high school did. I am worried for my future [and] I pray I do not give birth to a daughter as I am terrified of the world she may grow up in. I’m far too scared to speak of the issues in our world, as I’m going to school to be in the educational field and am worried speaking up will cost me a future job opportunity. I am beyond proud to be a WOMAN. Not a “birth-giver” or “chest-feeder,” I am a woman. Keep up the fight!