Everyone has a story. This is mine.

What is gender? What does it mean to be a “girl” or a “boy”? For me, it was confusing because it was hard to be who I was with everyone around me calling me a boy, when deep down I felt like a girl.

In Kindergarten I drew a picture of “Clark as a girl” and it was the first time I realized that I felt uncomfortable with being a boy. I didn’t know if I was right to be a girl or a boy or if I would get in trouble. We lived in Texas. I loved pink, wore pink socks, pink shoes, but I also loved to play baseball and run around with the neighborhood kids. I felt uncomfortable because I felt like I couldn’t be who I wanted to be because people kept making fun of me for liking pink. I didn’t feel like I had friends I could be around. It was lonely and uncomfortable. And don’t even get me started on trying to figure out which restroom to use.

Then we moved to Colorado. Not that Colorado changed everything but it certainly made me feel more comfortable. I started going to school, where I connected with Coach Reycer.

Coach Reycer became a mentor to me. Coach and the teachers made me feel special and I started being able to explore who I am. At my school, we have access to things like an all-gender bathroom and uniforms which make me feel safe and comfortable. I don’t have to worry about which bathroom to use and kids don’t make fun of my clothes anymore because we all have uniforms.

We went to California last summer to visit family and my cousins made me feel more comfortable because they encouraged me. They dyed my hair pink and purple. My cousin Kirsten took me shopping and bought me leggings, sandals, and scrunchies. It was the first time I felt comfortable and accepted for who I really am.

I have also made new friends. One of my best friends is CJ. CJ and I are both a part of the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), a club we have at school. CJ makes me feel that I am not alone because we can share our feelings and talk about when people call us the wrong pronouns. Mostly, we can just be...be silly, be curious, be creative, and just, well, do nothing.
People sometimes assume I am gay. They ask weird questions. I’m NINE! I don’t know anything about that yet, I just know I am more comfortable being a girl than a boy.

The first time I told mom I was so embarrassed. I didn’t know how she was going to react. But I found the guts to tell her. I said “I want to be a girl” and she reacted perfectly. She said “I know” and gave me a hug and supported me. She asked what I needed and I told her to start using the correct pronouns.

She asked if I wanted new clothes so we started ordering some clothes that suited my style. She also helped me by encouraging me to tell people my correct pronouns. It feels so much better knowing that I can be who I am and my family will be there to support me.

After our school buildings closed because of Covid19, I really had a chance to explore my identity. We continued doing GSA virtually and I finally shared with them my pronouns: she/her/hers. It was scary sharing my pronouns at first but now I am more comfortable and appreciate when people get my pronouns correct. It makes me feel like they see me for who I really am. When people don’t know my gender, I always say it's okay to ask questions, instead of assuming.

I know there will be hard situations ahead, like the time I was in summer camp and they split the cabins by girls and boys. But at least I know I have family, friends, and teachers at school who support, love and accept me for who I am.

Clark Pittman is a 9-year-old, rising 4th-grade student in Denver. She likes playing board games with family, baseball, camping, hiking, cooking, and writing fun stories. Clark hopes to explore space one day and to continue advocating for LGTBQ+ communities.