StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley
Transgender Day of Visibility (#TDOV) is a day we celebrate transgender and gender nonconforming people among us, raise awareness about the struggles they face, and recognize their resilience and accomplishments. We empower you, celebrate you and Stand Up for you, not only this day, but every day.
Thank you Kaine for sharing your story with us and being a part of the StandUp for Kids family in Silicon Valley.
Kaine and Mario still both remember the first day they met back in November 2016. It was “Guy’s Day” at The Village, and Kaine ventured into the doors of the outreach center. Mario greeted him, but let him know today there was a special event for the guys. Kaine politely said “I am a guy” and Mario responded with, “well then you came on a perfect day!”
Kaine recalls his surprise that he was immediately welcomed to be included in the day, and that he had found such a caring place that would later go on to support him for years. “Other organizations said I didn’t qualify for services, and were not trans-affirming at all,” Kaine stated. “I think that’s what is so special about The Village, no one gets paid, everyone just cares and takes the time to form real bonds.”
“You all actually care – when I experienced barriers to services in other places, StandUp for Kids volunteers were patient and went out of their way to make sure I (and everyone else) felt included and that they belong.” Kaine went on to remember that it wasn’t just about getting a meal for the day, or getting clothing, or having a warm shower – but that genuine support and love are embedded in the culture and environment at The Village. As Kaine began to attend The Village more frequently, he took advantage of the full array of opportunities available to him. Kaine was matched with a mentor, Lori, who worked with Kaine at least weekly on goals. Lori attended a surgery consultation with Kaine, and continued to help build his self-esteem over the years they worked together.
“I’m two-spirit and from the reservation. I was homeless and queer. My trans fiance and I get harassed walking down the street in Michigan. When someone says ‘trans people’, so many folks only hear the ‘trans’ part and forget that we too, are people, and deserve to be safe. The Village went out of its way to make sure I felt safe.” And that sense of safety and belonging to a community helped open up tremendous possibilities for Kaine. Kaine returned to Michigan, secured a job working at a church, is in a loving relationship with his fiance Zoey who are looking to get married in 2022, and looks forward to the thought of being able to adopt a baby. Throughout his life, Kaine has been a dedicated advocate and inspired those around him to be allies with the trans community. He has served on panels, helped organize events, and advocated for policy changes.
“I’m not done advocating. In California, there is a different mindset about accepting the trans community. In other places in the United States, there is fear of us and we are dying. I’m trying to do the right thing by educating, advocating, and fighting for my community. Ignorance can be cured by education, unfortunately some people are just hateful.”