In July 2022, I acted as an emcee for Life Jacket Theatre’s Trans Voices storytelling event. Life Jacket is a theatre company whose mission is to tell bold, challenging, and undertold stories, and to give young people in marginalized communities the opportunity to tell their stories. They partnered with the Sam & Devorah Foundation for Trans Youth, which supports trans and non-binary youth through safe spaces and programs, to create a week-long event for trans youth to learn about storytelling.
The week began with a virtual event focused on learning the basics of telling effective stories- we discussed traits of engaging storytellers, the structure of a story, and analyzed sample stories. Then, we came up with a list of prompts to help participants come up with their own story, and sent them off for the week to practice!
On the day of the storytelling event, we met in a beautiful space in Chelsea. The participants had multiple opportunities to tell their stories and receive feedback from their peers and from Storytelling Coaches, before getting the chance to tell their stories onstage in front of the whole group. Stories ranged from beautiful experiences of gender validation from loved ones to struggles with identity and finding names and voices that felt authentic. The entire event was filled with love, as coaches, staff, and participants all worked together to create an environment that felt incredibly safe and welcoming. We clapped, cheered, and supported as participants told stories that brought both laughter and tears to the audience.
Being in a space dedicated to supporting trans youth was incredibly healing and fun. Many of us stayed long after the event had ended, wanting to linger in the glow of support and shared experience. Opportunities for trans youth to have support from community are so rare, and spaces that fully center trans people are so rare, that having a dedicated space for it felt incredibly special.