When Kaiden first saw the movie Aladdin as a child, he had one takeaway. He wanted to make his own three wishes on that magic lamp. Like so many trans kids, he wanted to see a future for himself that was happy, healthy, and bright.
Years later, Kaiden—a strong, self-possessed young adult featured by The Trevor Project in their first video from their “Learn With Love” series—got two of his wishes. He also gained self-knowledge: he always was a boy to begin with, and he knew that, as so many trans kids do, from an early age.
Coming out as a teen, Kaiden found support and strength in his mother, who he describes as “very real.” While it took her some time to understand Kaiden’s transness, she put in the effort to make their relationship even stronger. He came out to his family in the midst of a move from Nashville, Tennessee to Michigan. He didn’t get the instant acceptance he deserved, and it hurt. But he moved forward, knowing exactly what he wanted out of life. “I just wanted to be me,” he told The Trevor Project.
The Trevor Project, founded in 1998, started as a suicide prevention hotline. In the two decades it’s been around, it’s expanded to include internships, outreach work, and even a Youth Advisory Council. It’s an organization focusing not just on protecting vulnerable queer youth, but on empowering them to speak up about their lived experience.
When Kaiden first got involved with the LGBTQ+ youth helpline and nonprofit service, it was after posting a photo to an FTM Facebook page. The Trevor Project reached out to him and asked if he’d be interested in working with them on their mission to provide support to struggling queer teens. He didn’t think twice, but leapt into the effort with a full heart. As a trans person of faith, Kaiden knew he wanted to be there for others struggling with the same intolerant messages from family and community members too ignorant to understand or respect trans identity.
The digital education course has been three years in the making.
“The Trevor Project really helped me with my self confidence,” he tells INTO, “and with feeling open and not demonized about who I am as a person.”
Kaiden was all too familiar with being scorned and demonized. He’d been told by fellow Christians that his identity was a sin, and for a time, he had no way to fight against the painful feelings he had from an unaccepting faction of the church.
Luckily, with help from his mother and his trans community, he found a way to regain his faith after the ugliness of those early experiences. Her support helped him drown out the voices of hate, and helped him be there for others going through the same struggle.
Now, while working with the Trevor Project, he’s using his experience to bring others through the coming out experience. “I get messages from middle schoolers,” he tells INTO, “that come into my DMs on Instagram and they’re like…’I can’t be who I want to be.’ I tell them, ‘you are loved, and it’s ok to have these feelings that you’re having. And you’re still growing, so just be ok with who you are. It’s okay, you are perfectly made.’”
Because of these experiences, Kaiden knows exactly what he wants to keep doing with his life. He wants to help people. He wants to fight hate and help trans and queer kids get access to the information they need. And he wants to keep extending his love and faith toward the young LGBTQ+ who need it the most at this moment.
That’s a more heroic task than Aladdin ever performed, even with his magic lamp in tow.