A.A. Hanvey

Interview with A.A., Youth Organizer

03/09/2024 | Interviewer: Shel, Outright staff

Shel: Is there anything you are really excited to talk about first?

A.A.: I definitely want to talk about my campaign, at least a little bit.

S: Do tell! What’s your campaign?

A: My campaign is GAR, or Gender Affirming Resources. Right now we’re working on an Instagram account for GAR specifically to advertise that we’re here and what we do, which is provide gender affirming resources - things like binders and gaffs - to trans youth in need. I think it’s a really important program to have because while a lot of what we’re doing in being activists is very important, none of it’s really immediate. Which is fine, not everything can be immediate - but I like the immediacy of knowing that we are literally sending help out to people, so that’s why I chose the campaign. I think it’s amazing how direct it is.

S: Was there some experience you had that inspired you to choose this campaign?

If I had to choose one it would be the fact that I’ve ordered GAR myself through this program. I thought it was great because while it’s not impossible for me to get, it was really hard to tell which brands are reputable, useful, functional - [GAR] was a good way to get my hands on something that was really gender affirming for me.
I was amazed that a program like this is able to exist - that Outright’s just sending stuff out to people who need or want, for free - It gave me a lot of respect for Outright. And it was inspiring to see: this is a thing people can just do, and it’s sustainable - and I think that’s amazing.

S: What inspired you to apply as a YO? Are there specific experiences you’ve had in your life that made you think this would be great for you?

A: There were. I was a Youth Organizer last year too, and the year before that I noticed there was a lot of active discrimination going on at my school around the LGBTQ+ community in general, and it was getting really really bad that year. So, me and some of my friends from school went to our GSA counselor about it and she brought up the idea that we could prepare a presentation for the school staff. So we did. And from that point onward over the next couple years or so, we ended up giving that presentation to our entire district - our principals, substitute teachers… just a lot of people.

The fact that Outright helps enable that for people who want to support their local community is amazing, and the fact that there’s been opportunities as a Youth Organizer to participate in things like that has been amazing.

We’re planning to do a big speakOUT for Leadership Day, and I plan on MCing that if I’m able to. And a couple trainings ago, we went to the rally for Palestine and I ended up helping to lead some of the chants as we were marching towards city hall. It was such a spontaneous thing, like there were chants going on and they weren’t going super loudly around my area, and I figured out what the exact chant was- the call and response thing - and I just started screaming the call. And I got responses! So I just kept doing it. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

S: What did that feel like in the moment?

A: It was really intimidating, because no one asked me to do this, I didn’t ask to do it, it was just a thing that happened. And it was amazing to be able to do that and to have it go so well. I feel like I really made a difference even if it wasn’t a huge one - I helped keep those chants going and it felt really nice.

S: Did that experience - or other experiences as a youth organizer - change how you think about yourself or your future?

Doing this sort of work in general has definitely made me consider a future in something like this - especially with Outright as an organization specifically. There are a lot of moments of testing my own bravery and things like that - just forward facing, public things with Outright that have made me more confident in myself and my ability to motivate and change people and just have confidence in general and it’s great.

S: Are there superpowers you’ve discovered you have as a youth organizer?

A: Definitely bravery. Public speaking. There’s a quote that I say probably too much, that I’m probably misquoting: Bravery isn’t NOT being afraid to do something, but just seeing that fear and feeling it and just doing it anyway.
I’ve done a lot with Outright where it’s just like - a lot of the things I do, the Palestine chant being a great example - it was terrifying! [laughs] But I still did it. I felt that fear and then I did it anyway.

S: What’s one lesson you learned from being a youth organizer that you want to remember forever?

A: Anybody can make an impact in organizing. You don’t have to be with some big company or have a following behind you at all. It’s just - if you have a purpose that you’re working towards and it’s a good purpose, you can get people behind you in supporting that.
There’s somebody at a school south of here who’s planning to arrange a walkout at their school for Palestine, and calling for a ceasefire, and they came to Outright basically saying hey we’re going to be doing this walkout. We’re not gonna help facilitate other ones but if y’all want to hop in on this and help arrange parallel walkouts that’d be really cool. It’s just a powerful thing - they had a couple people behind them, and now if things keep going the way they look, it’s gonna be like a big statewide thing. It was just, like… some people at a school.

If you were gonna talk to your pre-youth organizer self and tell that person a lesson from this experience, what are some lessons you’d want to share?

A: This is gonna sound corny, but… just do it. There are a lot of things that I think about doing and then I don’t do because I scare myself off. But… just do it. If there’s something you want to try and do to make your community better, just jump in and do it. Yeah, it’s gonna be terrifying, but a lot of the time it works out really well!
Obviously that’s easy to say, but just the amount of support that exists for these movements is amazing and really helped me see the best sides of people.

S: What are some of the strengths you’ve brought to this year’s Youth Organizer cohort?

A: Well, being myself I’m not too confident in my abilities but if i had to pick something I’d say just… immediate action.

It’s all really good to have a big nice plan of how exactly we’re gonna support, but sometimes it’s better to put something into motion really quickly - either just get started, or just get something out there because even if it’s not the best possible thing, because then it leaves you room to sort of expand on that without being bogged down in planning the whole time and not getting a chance to really make an impact.

S: What aspects of your identity are amazing that you want people to know? What is powerful about this part of you?

A: I don’t really know myself. If I had to put a particular name on my gender identity I don’t think I could but I’m okay with that and I think that’s pretty cool.
At first there’s an idea that you have to conform to your gender, whatever that is at birth - and that’s not right. And then there’s this idea that you can be trans, but you have to be a binary gender - all this transmedicalist stuff. And then further out from that, then there’s an idea that you can identify however you want. But then further out from that, you don’t really have to identify with anything! As long as you know how to express you and are happy with that, it doesn’t really matter if you put a label on that.

S: If you knew that this conversation could impact anyone in the state, who do you wish would hear it, and what actions do you wish they would take?

A: This is very hopeful thinking - I really wish a homophobe, transphobe could hear or see this and just stop and think about their opinions for a bit and just realize at the end of the day we’re all people. If it’s not hurting anyone, why not just let people be happy?
Homophobes and transphobes are so concerned with other people and how they’re expressing themselves and their identity that they forget that they’re just people trying to be happy in a really big, really complicated world. You don’t need to tear other people down.

A Permanent Home for Camp Outright!

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