Martina, 19


Martina grew up on a farm in rural Ohio in a town with a population of 800 people. From as young as she can remember, Martina felt conflicted with her birth gender. She says she never felt like a boy and loved looking in the mirror because she felt she could look into herself and see the woman she would become. 

Martina's family was very religious, before setting out to tend to the farm or to head to school her father would gather her and her six siblings around in a circle to read passages to the bible to them and pray. If someone in the family was having an issue her father would pray for that person. 

As Martina got older she started becoming the target of the family's prayers. Her father started addressing Martina in asking god to "fix the sissy" and "make his boy a man."

The first time it happened Martina's heart froze and for as much as she tried to hide it her face was red and overflowing with tears. This went on for nearly two years and was accompanied by evening prayers with her parents. 

By her 18th birthday Martina no longer liked looking in the mirror. Whenever she was alone she would cry uncontrollably. She often thought of ending her life. On one of the many nights she cried herself to sleep Martina had a dream that she would move to New York and become famous and that her father told her that he loved her. 

The dream would become Martina's only focus and by the end of the month Martina secretly packed her car and made the nearly 12 hour drive to New York City. She slept in her car for four nights before being connected to us by one of our outreach workers. Martina cried the first time she met one of our transgender staff members. She had never met anyone like her in person. 

Family Rejection is the leading cause of LGBT youth homelessness. The youth who come to AFC for help and shelter face trauma in many forms while homeless ranging from the lack of a safe place to sleep to having no access to food, but no trauma is more severe than the lack of acceptance and love from their families. 

Martina is doing well. She's working as a hostess at a diner. She is enrolled in our Transgender Support Services and is on a waiting list to enter our Transgender Housing Program. She is still working on her dream of having her father's love again.