During a match check in with one of my matches recently, I learned from the mentor, that her mentee had transitioned. Mentor then went on to explain that she has noticed that mentee seems more confident with themself since coming out, and told me about the ways that she has helped mentee with their transition.
Mentor told me that mentees mom wasn’t on board with the transition at first, and this had been a point of stress for them. Mentee has been encouraging mentee to continue to talk to their mom about it, and reassuring them that it will take time but that they should keep trying. Mentor said that mentees mom has since allowed them to cut their hair short and dye it, which mentor sees as a positive step. Mentor has also been helping mentee with conflict resolution strategies, as mentee has been having some issues with classmates due to their transition. Mentor makes sure to remind mentee that they are more mature for their age than most young people, and that they only say those things because they have things going on in their own lives. This point especially stands out to me, because Mentor is both helping mentee to handle these conflicts positively, but also encouraging them to have empathy for those who aren’t the most supportive.
For his part, mentee said that mentor has given them a lot of good advice, and that they have a good mutual respect built up. For a grade 8 student to not only recognize but also verbalize this to a program worker, to me, shows that mentee has that maturity and awareness that mentor was talking about. During the check in, I was able to confirm mentees pronouns and congratulate them on their transition, which was a really cool experience for me personally (and one I have been able to repeat!).
Mentor said she got involved to help a child out, and she feels that she has been able to do this with mentee. Mentor said it gave her a lot of satisfaction to know that mentee was comfortable enough to talk to her about their transition and how he feels. This kind of support is the epitome of what our programs represent; it sounds like mentee does not have a lot of support for this at home – where would they be without mentor?
Although this is a great example of the support our programs provide, it is by no means a unique one. I have had several mentees transition this year, some with the support of their families, some without. Personally, I don’t think it can be overstated how important it is for kids who transition to have positive adults to support them, whether it is school staff, parents, or mentors. The experiences I have had with these kids has really re-affirmed the need for our programs to be inclusive, and the importance of ally-ship, recognizing pronouns and allowing these kids to be their true selves.
This support matters to these kids, and our mentors can make all the difference in the world to them.