From the age of 14, Kirina knew that she identified as trans. But she didn’t know the right term to describe her gender identity or express herself authentically.
In September 2020, Kirina came out to her mother with the help of her family doctor. It wasn’t an easy conversation, but after months of processing, family therapy, and healthy boundary setting, her mother is learning and practicing what it means to be a supportive parent. A tattoo on Kirina’s wrist reads “IX.XXII.MMXX”, paying homage to her coming out date, an important milestone in her journey.
The prior years were rife with isolation and the lack of community; they weren’t easy. Kirina’s need for a safe and affirming space to express her authentic self brought her to The 519’s Trans Youth Mentorship Program (TYMP) in 2019. She considers Dani (pictured with Kirinia below), coordinator for TYMP, to be a friend, mentor, and so much more!
“I was now among other folks who did not identify with their gender assigned at birth. It made me feel happy and safe. It gave me the time and space to be who I wanted to be – free of oppression.”
The program gave Kirina the knowledge and strength she needed to feel empowered enough to come out, as well as find supports for medical transition. It also gave her the safety to explore her sexuality, emotions, and multiple facets of just being human.
Kirina’s interaction with other programs at The 519 – including Meal Trans and the Trans People of Colour Project (TPOC) – helped her make new friends and have opportunities for intergenerational conversations with other trans folks. In 2021, as The 519 continued to respond to food insecurity within our neighbourhood and communities, Kirina supported the Food Programs team by preparing and packing meals.
“Volunteering at The 519 gave me more insight into what happens behind the scenes. It helped grow my capacity to give back to my community.”
Not long after, Kirina joined The 519 staff as a facilities member, supporting the return of Green Space Festival (GSF), The 519’s largest fundraising party for a cause. It was her first GSF!
From the trans teen looking for affirmation and a voice up until now, Kirina has come such a long way.
“Before transitioning to now, The 519 has been there every step of the way. I have been able to overcome my social anxiety and androphobia and be more social. I never thought I’d be this healthy, or even live past a certain age.”
The 519’s trans programs gave to Kirina what many trans folks need – community, healing, wisdom, and support. She also hopes for health care and related supports to be more trans-affirming.
“Many trans people do not have the means to pay for services such as vocal feminization out of pocket. It is important to support trans programs and access to affirming healthcare.”
Kirina is transitioning every day, in every way. She believes that her interactions with different community members at The 519 have made her a better person.
“I have been able to unlearn toxic behaviours and relearn how to be more inclusive of people’s lived experiences. I’m here now for my community, a much better person.”
For over 46 years, The 519 has been that space, where our communities have gathered, celebrated, grieved, led, organized, and just been!
Help us continue growing together, creating invaluable 2SLGBTQ+ full-circle moments. Support The 519.