Growing Up
- By Dipper Kanae

Introduction

The world saw plenty of dramatic changes over the years as people grew to learn more about how other humans work and feel, along with understanding what makes everyone so very unique. As a person who strives to be as accepting and open-minded as possible, I find it important to me to try my best to put myself in someone's shoes. One thing I do understand that some people face is a largely discussed topic that can be heard either on the media or even in front of family or friends. My (preferred) name is Dipper Kanae, and this is my story and some of my experiences as a member of the LGBTQA+ community.

Early Life

I was born in Yokohama, Japan on March 11th, 1998 during a very cold and freezing afternoon. My father was deployed to another country for a few months and was unable to assist my mother in any way, and he wasn’t even a part of my life until I was already half a year old. She struggled very much from the very beginning and I nearly lost my life due to the stress she was put through. To everyone’s surprise, I made it out alive. I was her first child and, she pampered me to be the cutest little girl. Signing me up to modelling agencies, getting me on the cover of magazines, making appearances on shows, and even getting me into a music video, she couldn’t have been more happy with her little girl.

I adored my life and my pampered lifestyle. Living a life of fashion and attention is everything a little girl would have ever dreamed of. Despite all of this, however, I never quite felt that I was really appreciated for being me and was more adored for how I looked. Fashion modelling was the best part of my life, and I heavily enjoyed it and miss it to this day, but nothing made me feel happier than when I was around my friends. I never hung around with other little girls, and this troubled my parents. I always preferred to be on my own on the playgrounds or be around my best friend, Lillian, who was a tomboy, and my other 3 best friends who were all boys. My parents took time to accept it and allowed me to hang out with them on the condition that I’d continue to be girly and cutesy in front of the cameras. I didn’t mind too much at the time and would happily play with insects and get dirty with my friends.

After years would pass, I would start to realize how much I just wasn’t like any girls that I’d known. I was tomboy, feminine, and neutral at the same time. It was very confusing, but I never questioned it too much since I didn’t want to worry anyone at the time. My younger sibling was a lot more girly and grew up in a way that most girls did. I ended up becoming more of an outcast after our family moved out of Japan and moved to the United States. Moving to the United States ended up being our last move as a happy family - this tore us all apart.

My parents fought for a long time which caused them to divorce. On the very last night of them being married before being legally split apart, my father told us we had 3 days to move out of the house. My mother is foreign and couldn’t speak English at the time, so finding a house and moving into one so quickly must have really done a lot to her. On our last day at the house, my father came to my room and closed the door behind him. He proceeded to hug me, but I did not hug him back, for I would never forgive him for his choice and what he was doing to us. He held me close and began to cry, which is something not everyone can say has ever happened to them, and told me that I was in charge of taking care of my sister and mother. From that point on, I became the “man of the house” and had to take care of them. They both became very unstable mentally and emotionally. I took care of them, watched over them, and talked to them and I was only 10 years old. I took responsibilities no one should have taken at that age and I learned a lot about myself and how others thought and felt.

After my mother and sister slowly became more stable to handle themselves or confide in one another, I began to struggle with myself and who I was. I would go to school and chat with people or hear stories from others my age, and I realized that I missed a huge part of my childhood. At this point, my past was 1% hanging out with my friends and 99% modelling. Then after moving to America, my life became 100% about being the scapegoat and doormat of my mother and sister in order to help them get back on their feet. I missed out on what it was like being a little girl and, more importantly, a happy child. Growing a distaste for what I was and what I’d become, I isolated myself away from most people. The only people who ended up being there for me were my best friend Julia, the only girl who accepted me, and a few guys who I easily communicated with since I was more used to being around boys.

Understanding and Coming to terms

As I went further into my school life, I began to question why it was so difficult for me to understand and “be” a girl. I would ask my friends about it, and they’d have no answer for me. Being the type of person I was, I tried to avoid talking too much about myself and my feelings since my father taught me to hide them, and my mother said to not show off myself too much in case the press would see. Of course, this shouldn’t have been an issue since I moved away from Japan, but it was ingrained into my mind. Questioning whether or not I was an actual girl, and questioning my feelings towards other people festered in the back of my mind for years until I was around 14 years old. For the first time, I heard and learned about homosexuality. I thought it was interesting and really good to love someone regardless of their gender.

Years later, it hit me. “Regardless of Gender . . . Gender. Gender?” This was something I never really looked into. Of course, all I knew were boys and girls, but I wanted to know if there were more options than those. I knew on papers that there were boxes that would sometimes say “Sex” or “Gender,” and it was always strange to me that they wouldn’t use just one word. So, I decided to look into it. I was 16 years old, and I finally learned terms about people I never really thought about. I learned about homosexuality along with transgender and other things under both umbrellas. As a person who loves to learn, I sought out multiple things on both of these new terms and how they branch out and umbrella into new ideas and concepts.

I began to learn more about how unique everyone is and how different everyone feels about themselves and others. Getting a good feel for all of the terms I was able to find, I started to go into more depth on how I felt and why I felt like such an outcast and so out of place. At first, I identified as Genderfluid, since I felt that maybe I could be feeling the way I ded because I could be flowing from being a girl, to a boy, to agender. Feeling like this was the term for me, I stuck with it for about a year and a half before questioning it again. I didn’t really want to identify as either of the binary genders since I felt as if I was outside of them, and that I could be feeling like a “boy” or “girl” thanks to just feeling “masculine” and “feminine.” However, I was still more neutral gendered, like nonbinary/agender. So I changed my identification to Agenderfluid. After a few months of using it, I began to lean towards and prefer the term just “agender” because I felt that it shouldn’t matter if I feel like I flow between being masculine, feminine, neither, or both, and that I should just be happy with knowing I just feel how I feel because it is who I am. I now identify as agender for my gender and, after learning about my romantic/sexual feelings, I also identify with the orientations Polyamorous / Demisexual / Pansromantic / Grey-AceAro!

After years of trying to figure myself out, I am finally happy, and I feel that I know and understand how I feel now, and how I felt back then. I am not invalid like I believed for so long. I still may have some issues that keep me down, but having at least this one positive amongst all of the negatives, I know that things will get better just over time and with more patience and learning.

Coming Out

As time passed and I figured myself out, I spoke a lot about my feelings to my best friends who still stick by me to this day. My best friend and number 1, Julia, was there before I realized I was trans, and she saw me transform so much over time and is so happy that I finally have more understanding about myself. My second best friend, Alex, was there during my questioning and learning phases, and she did her best to help me. Sometimes, she would put makeup on me to look more like a boy or would even question and make sure if I felt a certain sexuality just so I didn’t confuse myself and call myself something I wasn’t. My number 3 is Kayla, who helped me lock into place what sexuality I was, and she was there during my constant shifts in identity as I tried to experiment with and learn about who I am. Finally my number 4, Dante, who helps me every day in feeling confident and valid in who I am and what I identify as by calling me handsome and protecting me from those who use incorrect pronouns or misgender me. All 4 of these people are my best friends who I still have in my life that I am so very grateful for, and they are the main people who I first came out to. They also helped me gain the confidence in coming out to be a friend, a shoulder to cry on, and helping me realize that I need to be a role model to anyone and everyone through their own struggles with family life, identity questioning, and much more. Now, I am proud to say I have saved many people from suicide and have helped many people on their road to self-discovery.

I have come out to many people in my life but not to everyone. Heavily believing in the idea that anyone should come out whenever they feel that is safe to, I still have not come out to my parents and other family members. I am confident they can find out on their own by just looking into my social media, but if they haven’t, I do plan to eventually come out to them whenever I feel that it is safe for me to do so. This form of self care and safety is something I heavily underline when helping anyone with any self identity questioning. Coming out only when it is safe to is very important and is something I feel very strongly about. Thanks to this type of thinking, I have saved many people and friends from unneeded stress and harm in many senses. I am also very thankful when others spread this message. Health and safety come before many other things since, in the end, it’ll still achieve the happiness and acceptance anyone wants and needs. It takes time and patience.

Difficulties and Struggles

As a person who is a part of the LGBTQA+ community, I am not a stranger to those who disagree with my identity or just deny it entirely. I was attacked for many years before I found my identity, and for being different. I was harmed emotionally and physically for that difference. After I found my true identity, and even during my process of trying to find that identity, I was being accused for “trying to be something I wasn’t” and other harmful words was also thrown at me in many forms. It is terrifying being told for so long that your feelings are invalid, and that you are only trying to say things for publicity. Despite all of this, I kept my best friends close and conquered the hate.

Every month on different social medias, I’ll be misgendered and treated like the gender that I am not and I’ve learned to try and teach them about being open-minded or just block them entirely. I still get attacked for being nonbinary and for being something that’s misunderstood. My own family negatively talks about trans people and anyone LGBTQA+, and I get attacked by them too despite it not being directed at me (they are still unaware of my true identity).

However, I know that I have to be strong during all of these struggles. It is becoming more understood and accepted. I have very high hopes that eventually my identity and many others’ will be accepted everywhere, and that all of the fighting for the right to love and be who you are will become just a norm, without having fear of negativity or at least a lessened fear to everyone in the community.

Being there as both a Friend and Role Model

I’ve known how it feels to feel betrayed, left alone, and invalid for so long in my life. As a person who wants to be a role model, I do my best to be positive and be there for others as much as I can. I always try and tell people to talk to me if they ever have questions about themselves or need to vent. That way, they have someone listening and have at least an outlet where they can learn about themselves and their situations and find stability in them. From my experiences, I do my best to reach out or let it be known that I am very open and accepting, and I am always seeking out new knowledge and understanding.

Going through those things alone is never easy, and I want everyone to know that they aren’t alone. Even if things look grim or if their friends just aren’t getting it, I always show that I’m open and I’m very willing to help. I’ll give advice if it’s wanted or needed, and sometimes I’ll just listen upon their request. I do my best to help those learn more about themselves and help lead them into experimenting if they really want to learn more and see if it’s more “them.” I’ve been there for those online and offline and will continue to hopefully do so for as long as I need to.

I know that I am not a professional, and I always refer everyone to professional help since professionals know more than I do, but I know that not everyone can just talk to an adult randomly about their issues, and many may need someone their age to talk to on a general level. Being that stepping stone as a first start to getting help absolutely means the world to me. To this day and forward, I will always be there and help anyone and everyone with either their issues or finding more help to help them progress into healing.

- Dipper Kanae


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