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Liberty High School
#14
2018-2019
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Liberty High School
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#18
2018-2019
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Liberty High School

Life changing experience

Isabella Santiago

By Isabella Santiago, Liberty High School

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It’s May of 2018, the school year was coming to a close.

Seniors prepared for graduation, teachers and students alike prepared for summer, but one student prepared for a much more life changing experience as 18 year old Ash Engebretsen began the GENECIS program, a gender dysphoria program at Children’s Medical Center.

I knew like what I was getting myself into I was just thinking which is more important my mental wanting to be more presentable and have less dysphoria or singing so I knew,”

— 2018 graduate Ash Engebretsen

“First I told my previous therapist, I came out to her as trans, and that was last December and she told me about this program called GENECIS, the GENECIS program at Children’s Hospital,” 2018 graduate Ash Endebretsen said. “It took a couple of months and I went there for my first appointment. My parents and I were separately interviewed by a psychologist for a few questions and then my second appointment I was introduced to a endocrinologist which is a hormone doctor. Eventually, I got my first testosterone shot there I take currently.13 ml of testosterone every Friday by myself and I just put on my on the sides of my thighs.”

The GENECIS program provides transgender and gender diverse youth hormone care and mental health support as they begin their transition. But taking on such an experience did bring some concerns.

“They had already done a lot of research on it as far as the medical side of it and I did my own research,” mom Joe Engebretsen said. “The only concern was if they wanted to have biological children in the future and I don’t think eventually we decided as important as her their mental health.”

“I know that because I like to sing and all as a side thing but I knew that my voice was gonna lower and I wasn’t gonna be going into higher notes,” Ash said. “But I knew like what I was getting myself into I was just thinking which is more important my mental wanting to be more presentable and have less dysphoria or singing so I knew.”

Despite both their concerns, they chose to continue with the lengthy process, one that has seen Ash experience positivity during these beginning months of the journey.

“People are really positive about me trans in face,” Ash said. “I haven’t seen any negativity towards me.”

“Ash has been more open, less anxious, and finally calling them by their preferred name and pronouns makes me feel like a better mom,” Joe said.

Although the process has brought Ash lots of positivity, it has also brought challenges.

The advice that was given to me was ‘follow their lead’ and that everyone has their own pace as far as the parent’s transition to acceptance and following what their children need to do,”

— mom Joe Engebretsen

“We recently had Thanksgiving and came out to our extended family and haven’t started using name or pronouns fully yet and it’s been difficult with their legal name being different than their preferred name,” Joe said. “Like going to college, applying to jobs, we have to have their legal name and then have to explain. Their pronouns are not typical ones so if I meet a new person and I say I have two children and start talking about my 18 year old and use they then they eventually ask ‘do you have a boy or girl?’. It actually opens up an entire conversation I don’t want to have with strangers.”

But despite the challenges, Joe uses advice given to her by others to move forward in the process.

“The advice that was given to me was ‘follow their lead’ and that everyone has their own pace as far as the parent’s transition to acceptance and following what their children need to do,” Joe said.

This story was originally published on Wingspan on January 23, 2019.

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