I remember the first day I met Jude. On the first day of Orientation, my eyes searched rapidly for any sign of familiar life. After being thrown into a sea of unfamiliar faces and bewilder looks, my heart flipped and my stomach turned at the thought of meeting my future roommate. Having picked a random roommate off of Facebook, I knew nothing about what he looked like, besides the side angle profile picture I glanced at before I messaged him. Finally, our eyes met, and we awkwardly walked over each other and attempted to side hug, like what you would do with a creepy person you tried to avoid while walking to class. He was tall, with wavy hair and a vibe that screamed skater boy bred with scene sixth-grader. Also, he was a girl.

I didn’t know my roommate was transgender until the week before we moved in. His birth name was Rachel Kaiser, coincidentally my exact name, and had always been referred to as a girl. As he bravely texted me that he was transgender, praying that I understood, I chuckled and thought, “Why would I care”? Who am I to judge? But, no matter what, I always knew that Jude was a boy; I never once thought of him as a girl. This is who is he is.

I will never fully understand what he goes through, let alone any transgender person. I will never experience what it feels like to hate the skin you live in, I will never experience what it feels like to look in the mirror and not love who you are, I will never understand what it is like to have your family reject how you feel inside, and I will never understand what it feel like to want to end your life because you feel that life the way you are isn’t worth it. It is awful to watch someone who is so kind to everyone they meet, so beautiful, someone you really love and care about, feel this way about themselves. It kills me to think that people hate him for one reason. I don’t know what to do…

But I do know what it is like to feel alone and depressed and like the world is against you, and that’s where we, everyone, can help. A person is more than their gender identity. This is not a PSA telling people to agree with transgender issues or gender-neutral bathrooms or hormone therapy; if fact, this is a call to be fucking compassionate, to be aphetic, even if you don’t understand or agree. Transgender people, in fact all people, need support in their lives and in their choices. If we don’t want our friends, our loved ones, our colleagues to be happy, to make the choices that would better their lives, then why are we here? In honor of Transgender Day of Visibility, we should look past our differences and support the people we care about, no matter their decisions. It is easier said than done, but when put in a situation, where someone you love or care about needs you, you stick by him or her. I’m glad Jude taught me this, thank you.

To anyone, transgender, LGBTQA+, or straight, who feels abandoned…

This is for you.