Patrick hated wearing dresses. He was born female but the idea of being a girl never made sense to him. From as early as kindergarten Patrick's school teachers would send notes home telling his parents that Patrick insisted he was male and that he would lash out if he was forced to line up with the girls.
Patrick's gender expression created a great deal of conflict for his parents. Living in small town in upstate New York, Patrick's family had little resources to support their child. Patrick grew up tormented. He cut up dresses, threw away dolls and stole his brother's toys. In fact, Patrick can't remember a time when he didn't feel turmoil related to his gender.
One school counselor suggested to his parents that they allow him the opportunity to live as a boy. His parents response was that his "gender confusion" was a "stage." This enraged him and ignited a downward spiral of drug use, uncontrollable aggression and alienation from his family and school.
By the age of 17 Patrick was so afflicted by the lack of support and concern from his parents that he preferred to live on the streets where he recognized he wasn't safe but at least he could be himself.
Patrick eventually made his way to NYC where he met other homeless kids like him.
LGBT homeless youth are 8 times more likely than their non-LGBT counterparts to experience drug abuse, violence, HIV infection and suicidal ideation on the streets.
Patrick has had a difficult journey connecting with services. One of AFC's Outreach Workers started making contact with Patrick on the streets and agreed to meet once a week on the streets where they would provide Patrick with food, hand warmers and blankets. Building a relationship with someone that affirmed his gender and accepted him was very important for Patrick.
Patrick's first visit to our 24 Hour Drop In Center in Harlem was sparked by a three day drug binge. Patrick had hit rock bottom. Upon arrival Patrick was offered a place to rest and attended a substance abuse support group. Within a month Patrick was enrolled in our Substance Abuse Counseling Program and was taking steps to begin to rebuild his life.
Today Patrick is on the road to recovery. He is living at one of our Emergency Housing Sites and has even enrolled in our education and career services. At 20 years old, Patrick has a seventh grade reading level. Patrick is receiving the remedial service he needs to be able to enroll in a High School Equivalency Program.