Freshman year is a year of new beginnings. Senior Tyler Martin experienced many new things his freshman year: a new school, new friends, and a new understanding of his identity.
“Right before freshman year, I was starting to realize that I was not really necessarily a regular girl,” he said.
Martin was assigned a female gender at birth, but near the beginning of high school, he began to question his true gender identity. During the same time, he also was adjusting to Parkrose after moving from the North Clackamas School District. Martin said his previous school lacked diversity and made him feel unwelcomed. Moving to Parkrose was an influential point in feeling comfortable in showing his true self to others.
“Parkrose has really been a place where I could be myself and not be as worried about it,” Martin said.
In the middle of his sophomore year, Martin said he realized that he felt more like a boy. He opened up about his feelings with his boyfriend at the time and his closest friends.
Close to his birthday, he came out to his mother through a text message conversation.
Initially, Martin’s mother, Megan Berry, was confused about Martin’s gender identity. However, with time, she started to use the right pronouns and has been a great supporter in Martin’s transition. However, Berry has concerns regarding her son being the target of hurtful comments.
“As a mother I am afraid it will make him a target in ways he wasn’t already, for people who don’t understand what he’s going through,” Berry said.
Although Martin said Parkrose has been a very supportive community for him, he said that there are some people who act differently around him because of his transition.
“I’ve had some really great friends that have been just awesome about it and some have been weird about it,” he said.
There have also been some obstacles in his path. Martin has been a part of theater since early on in his high school career and credits theater teacher Tom Cavanaugh for being a very accepting person who made Martin’s transition a little easier.
Two years ago, when Martin went to state for theater, the district did not know whether to assign him to the girls’ or boys’ room because they had never encountered this issue.
“The district put me in my own room for the time being,” Martin said. “They also paid the difference which was pretty cool.”
This year, the district is seeking parent approval for a gender neutral room for students with a non-binary gender identity. Martin feels that through his transition, Parkrose has also grown into an even more inclusive environment that is more aware of transgender people.
However, Martin has faced difficulties with his name. Martin’s preferred name is Tyler, but on the attendance sheet, his name is listed as his birth name. People who are transgender often refer to the name on their birth certificate as their “dead name.”
“Whenever there’s a sub, they call me by my given name and not the name I go by, and when I fill out applications, I wonder should I put my preferred name or my given name,” he said.
“I don’t like it. I don’t like hearing the name because it’s not who I am,” Martin said.
Martin was unable to legally start his name-change process until his birthday in late February because he would have turned 18 in the middle of the process, and the papers for the process for minors and adults are different.
“Someone suggested the name [Tyler] to me, and I thought it fit me really well. Turns out that that was a name I would gotten if I was born a boy,” Martin said.
In addition to theater, Martin is also involved in the Spectrum Club, which is a club supporting students with various sexual orientations and gender identities. Martin said the club is trying to be an activist club and motivate students of the Parkrose community to be accepting of others.
Martin said he is very comfortable with having conversations about his gender identity and his transition. There have been students who have come up to him and told him that his story is inspirational to them.
“I have had someone at a cast party very recently asked if they could talk to me. They said they were questioning their gender and wondered if I could talk about that, and I was like oh yeah I can totally talk about that.”
Photo By Joshua Dyer