A Boy Called Cameron

I know a boy. Let’s call him Cameron.

Cameron will be 13 years old this year. He has blue hair, green eyes and a huge, toothy smile that takes up half of his face.

Cameron also has scars scattered across his body, the kind that your eyes can’t help but notice when he takes off his sweater. They’ve been there since I met him two years ago.

When I met Cameron, his name wasn’t Cameron. His parents had named him Hannah.

Just like how his scars don’t match his smile, Cameron’s biological sex never matched his mind, heart and soul.

Cameron is the first person I’ve ever grown close to who is transgender.

His parents noticed something was wrong when they saw how unhappy he was in his biologically female body. Unlike the thousands of unaccepting and prejudice parents out there, Cameron was lucky in the sense that his parents supported him when he told them he felt like a boy, not a girl. They encouraged him to dress and act how he wanted to, to defy any gender norms set in place by a hateful society.

Despite all of the love and emotional support Cameron gets every day from his parents, friends, family and people like me who simply have the honour of knowing him, Cameron suffers from depression.

I watch this kid, just 12 years old, wake up every day and take a handful of pills, some of which are for the hormones, some of which are for the testosterone, some of which are for the anxiety and depression that Cameron has. He washes them down with a gulp of water before returning to play with his friends or getting ready for school. He goes to doctors appointments more regularly than he is invited to birthday parties.

Cameron faces bullies every day at his school. His classmates grew up knowing him as Hannah, and Cameron’s transition is hard for them to understand – especially when their parents fill their mouths with words they’re too young to understand. He has had grown adults ask him what’s wrong with him, a question he says he is still searching for the answer for. He has been told he’s “sick” for believing he is who he is: a boy.

Cameron learned to hate his body from a young age for showing him as a gender he doesn’t know how to relate with. He has carved his skin to the bone, crying because he wants to be normal, confused because he doesn’t know what that looks like. He has tried to shed his skin like the garter snakes he’s learned about in school, hoping that answers lie below the epidermis.

He’s a little boy, and he spends his days in fear, worrying who will be next to will tell him he’s abnormal, a freak, confused, unwanted, a pervert, disgusting, abominable.

I watched his face when he read the signs that hung on the men’s washrooms:


paired with an LGBTQ flag.

I cannot explain properly to you the exquisite joy I felt watching that boy’s toothy smile break out all over his face in that moment.

It was one thing Cameron didn’t have to worry about that day.


Stage 2: Anger

I can’t stop writing about you
because it’s the only way I know how
to come to terms with
the anger
the grief
the ache
the absence
the confusion
the misery
the regret.
None of this feels real
and you don’t really feel gone –
it’s a cliché that happens in novels and on sitcoms
but young men don’t die
in the real world
or at least they never used to,
not to me.
It wasn’t real
when the news shook my core
and broke the ground I used to walk on;
it wasn’t real
when people told me they were sorry for my loss
because I didn’t feel like I had lost you yet;
it wasn’t real
when I said goodbye to your ashes
and I kept reminding myself it wasn’t you;

it was real at 1 a.m.
when I screamed at you in my head,
when the anger broke over me
like a tidal wave
and I wanted to slap and hug you
and demand to know
why you did it
and how you could have been so

Anger is understandable
they tell me

but they don’t mention the guilt.

– the five stages of grief


They say you took something
and I’d like to believe it was the hand of God;
and even though you were atheist
you took it all the same.
I wonder if the pills you took left a bitterness on your tongue,
the way saying your name
paired with past tenses leaves
a numbness on mine.
I don’t even know if it was pills,
I was given two letters:
and was forced to string an alphabet of conclusions around them
that started with a party
and ended with a funeral.
As if you could describe the way you laughed
with three syllables,
two letters,
one word –
as if anyone could understand
how alive you were
when your death
is what they will remember you for.

– what did you take