To celebrate Pride 2016, TELUS is highlighting local leaders in the LGBTQA community who exemplify the power of inclusion and elevate the importance of diversity. We are absolutely thrilled to support their #ShareLove campaign and honored to speak with Tru Wilson, a 13-year-old who found herself on Vancouver Magazine’s list of the 50 most powerful people in the city after getting the Vancouver Catholic School system to adopt a new policy regarding transgender students.
Tru’s main ambition is to educate people and to let kids know that no matter what they are going through, they are not alone. We spoke to her about school, gender identity and her future plans with Justin Trudeau.
VIA: Hi Tru! Can you explain how and why you got the Vancouver Catholic School system to adopt a new policy “regarding Gender Expression and Gender Dysphoria?
Tru: School should be a place where you can feel safe. I didn’t for a long time. I dreaded going to school everyday and having to pretend to be someone else. It wasn’t a good feeling, and I didn’t want anyone else to have to experience that. So we filed the human rights complaint, which, after two years of mediations, resulted in a policy that recognizes and supports gender identity and expression. It isn’t a perfect policy, but it’s a start.
VIA: How did it feel to have your school refuse your identity?
Tru: Like I was being discriminated against by the people I thought would stick by me. Did I have friends to support me? Yes, but even so, it felt like all the adults just turned on me.
VIA: What motivated you to take action?
Tru: The knowledge that I am making a clear path for future generations to walk through.
VIA: We've read that you have plans to one day sit down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and talk about incorporating gender identity and gender expression into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Do you want to have a career in human rights and activism?
Tru: Yes, it has been a dream of mine to travel and to speak about this, and hopefully make a difference in the world.
VIA: When talking about your childhood in a past interview, you said “I was always going to the dollhouse in my kindergarten class. I would always put on my favourite dress, fairy wings… Those feelings didn’t stop. They just kept getting stronger.”
Can you explain what it felt like to go through this? Do you have any advice for people going through something similar?
Tru: It felt like I was finally becoming my true self. I can’t explain the emotions I felt having to pretend to be a boy and walk around hearing people call my boy name. My only advice is that it gets better. No matter how hard it may seem now, it will always get better. Don’t give up; even if it doesn’t seem to be going well, at least you tried.
VIA: What’s the biggest misconception you think people have about trans people or the trans community?
Tru: I think people who are discriminating against the LGBT2Q+ community just don’t understand, and what they don’t understand they’re afraid of. And I think fear is what drives people to make bad choices. So these people are being driven by fear and confusion. By raising awareness we can get rid of that confusion and move on to acceptance and love.
VIA: Who do you look up to most?
Tru: Everyone. Seeing everyone put their emotion and love into what they believe in is just so inspiring. Seeing other people stand up for what’s right, that is what drives me, to go on to do what I do. And hopefully, go on to do greater things.
VIA: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Tru: I see myself with my best friend, talking about how silly all the problems we faced 10 years ago were. I see a brighter future for the next generation and I see happiness, love, and acceptance. That is what I see in our future.
VIA: How can people be better supporters of the LGBTQA+ community?
Tru: Just listen, learn, and don’t discriminate against something you don’t understand. You can open yourself up to an amazing world that is right in front of you. All you have to do is open your heart.
VIA: What makes Vancouver awesome to you?
Tru: How accepting we are as a community, and how easy it is to find support, and find love. Especially when you need it the most.
Huge thanks to Tru for taking the time to share her story. Don’t forget to share your images and messages of love and acceptance through the TELUS #ShareLove campaign. Happy Pride!