I’m starting a new serious which will be added to periodically, which I shall call Transgender Heroes. I will add people to the list as I encounter them and personally judge them to be heroic.
Now there are plenty of people I’ve known about for years who qualify, but I shall endeavor to shine the light on those who I deem will be helping to carry us forward.
First up is Jake Rostovsky. I invite you inside to hear Jake’s story.
Jacob is the creator of Trans United with Family and Friends (TUFF), which is a social group based in Los Angeles. TUFF offers bimonthly get togethers of gender-variant individuals and events planned for the families of such people.
TUFF aims to create a safe environment for gender variant individuals to meet and spend time with each other. Although the meet-ups are not a “support group”, we hope that the organic atmosphere will lead for discussions on problems that arise within the community and within the individuals, and hope that we can help find the answers.
TUFF is co-facilitated by Jacob’s mother, Peggy Cryden, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over a decade of clinical experience. She specializes in ADHD, sexual identity and/or gender identity issues, depression, anxiety and panic disorder, stress management, abandonment issues, intimate relationship conflicts, adjustment to change or life transitions, and family of origin issues. educated at UCLA and Phillips Graduate Institute, she now practices in Encino.
Jake is a female to male transperson. He came out at 12 as lesbian, but found he was still struggling with his identity. He came out again at 14as transgender. Upon entering high school, Jake was subjected to intense bullying and harassment. He was even sexually assaulted because of his trans status. Because of that, he was withdrawn from public school. The isolation that came with that, along with the knowledge that he was hated for being transgender and stuck because transition wasn’t happening, he went into deep depression and became suicidal.
His parents finally realized his pain and began fearing for his life, so they let him medically transition shortly before he turned 16.
Jake is using his life experiences to help others. He wishes to become the transgender voice of his generation and help end the pain, suffering, harassment and fear which gender-variant individuals face daily.
To that end Jake started TUFF, to create a safe space in his community and a glimmer of hope for the future.
He hopes that TUFF will be a non-profit giving financial assistance to transgender and gender-variant individuals that can be used towards the cost of transition and other medical needs. Plans are for the money to be distributed on an as-needed basis.
Recipients must apply for an award, and are chosen based on their financial need, personal, social and advocacy goals for the future.
Who can apply for funds? Anyone who identifies along the transgender/gender variant spectrum, regardless of their financial needs. Applicants must fill out an application form that requires them to provide information about their medical transition history and financial needs. They must also submit two essays that ask about their future goals and involvement within the transgender/gender variant community.
Jake’s current effort is to raise money for his travel and the administrative costs of getting the nonprofit off the ground. He has been doing that our of his own pocket so far, but his expenses as a student are interfering with that. He is working 40 hours a week as an non-paid intern.
You can go help fund TUFF‘s efforts at gofundme. The current effort is to raise $2000. $1050 has been raised so far.
Since I was fifteen, I’ve wanted to work in the transgender community, trying to help individuals less fortunate than I was. Realizing how expensive transition is, and how many insurance companies don’t cover anything in that area, I knew someone had to help those who couldn’t afford to transition.
I’ve realized that once a person medically transitions, their entire life changes. They are happier, confident and hopeful, and for some people this is the first time in their lives they’ve felt like this. I don’t want anyone to be held back from giving the world their all and reaching their full potential just because they can’t afford to transition.
If you can’t help this transgender hero financially, please consider trying to help spread the message to those who might be able to do so.