Finding Home as a Homeless, Transgender Youth


Be at home in your own skin -- then it won't matter where you go.

This is a bit of wisdom that I've picked up in my times of uncertainty, from the first time I was kicked out to the singular moment when I truly felt as if I had no home. Despite the tumultuous living situation and stunted employment opportunities after I came out as transgender, and no matter that it made all those things all the more difficult, I have never for a moment felt unhappy or unsure of my identity. With that core knowledge of who I am, who I was and who I want to be, I always know that no matter what I might lose I will always have that. To this day it's still my one solid 'truth.' A truth defined as one of the essential parts that make each of us up as unique people. A fractured self honesty that can be clung to like the expensive kind of saran wrap during times of need.

Recently it's been put to the test as I've experienced another major shift in my life. I've found that there's nothing quite like two days in a car, separated by nothing but the barren wastelands of the Midwest with the occasional urban streak of almost civilization, to sort out someone's mind. What it ends up sorted into, though, depends on why you're stuck in that dizzying of a drive for so long.

For me? It has been the pursuit of a dream. This dream is small compared to the broad reaching, expansive aims of world leaders. At its core is a selfish desire to not only survive but to thrive (a concept few view as selfish but my perception of reality has been warped over time. See: Mistrusted Success and Where to Find It on my blog). A pursuit that has led me to small town Indiana, just outside of Indianapolis. This doesn't mean I will ever forget my roots but in many ways it's already started to challenge my core beliefs and desires.

Montana will always be my home. It's where mountains define the limits of the skies, where meadows of bluebells and sunflowers bloom in the cracks of what should be dirt crusted nothingness -- Montana is where my soul will always dance. My mind is captured by the never ending blanket of stars and the ever changing blues, reds, oranges, purples and kaleidoscope of other colors its sky can showcase in their purest, most glorious forms. It's cold rain and warm, dry summer nights spent outside with people I care about. Billings, Montana is both the safest place I know and yet the staging ground for the most dangerous times of my life.

Now, when I refer to Montana as home I'm not using the classical definition of it (though really what could be the "classical definition" of such a personal concept). Home isn't where my heart is. My heart is firmly in my chest, exactly where it belongs -- but parts of my soul have landed across America and in the delicate grips of those who have helped me along the way. The largest chunk might be in the Rocky Mountains but to me "home" is my skin, my bones and most importantly my mind. These things I can take with me anywhere and without them, I would be lost but with them? I don't think I'll ever be without a home because I will never exist without a purpose.

What's my purpose now? I arrived in Indiana on March 9, 2016 at 3 a.m. with barely ten bucks to my name, boxes of books and old notebooks and the knowledge that no matter what I might find I could handle it. This isn't the worst shape I've arrived to a new place in. At least now instead of running away from something I am chasing after a glimmering hope of my own future. It's a small hope, one that will be speckled with more money troubles and long, dry stretches of stress but to pair with that is an insatiable hunger to prove myself. To prove that I am not just a product of my circumstances. That I am not a bank balance or a hopeless cause. I'm not a kid with a dream -- I'm an almost fully formed person with a PLAN. And that means that nothing, absolutely nothing, can stop me now.

Through my life I've had the privilege to meet the notable 'self made men' (many of which are women) that dot across America. Generally unassuming and without acclaim they are astonishing because despite any turmoils they have faced in their lives (and all of them have) they have clawed their way back up and now find themselves in a position where they control their own fates and destinies. This is the type of person I strive to be. I know the trauma of my past, I understand the sometimes hopeless desire for the better future I'm striving towards and to spite all that I want to succeed. Not in the areas of publicity or notoriety but in the arena of being the truest, most genuine version of myself and, by doing that, of helping others to do the same. At my core I'm resilient and intelligent, with a never ending desire to help others -- with my plans and the burn of needing to see them to fruition, I'll take this world by storm. One person at a time.

Nothing can stop me because I refuse to stop myself anymore. And you want to know what's great, dear reader? Nothing can stop you either. Take it from someone who's had nothing -- only way to go is up now.

bentley burdick