Oct 12 • 36M

Arizona Equals Samual

A trans teenager and student advocate living in the East Valley talks with Equality Arizona about his life and civic leadership

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Equality Arizona
Arizona Equals is a conversational interview podcast chronicling the lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ Arizonans. Listen to new episodes weekly on Wednesdays, featuring conversations with queer people living in Arizona.

On this week’s episode of the Arizona Equals Conversation, Jeanne talks with Samual Kahrs, a trans teenager who leads his school’s GSA club and who has distinguished himself as a voice for his community at the state capitol, standing up against an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

Full Transcript

00;00;01;18 - 00;02;29;16

Jeanne

From Equality Arizona, you're listening to the Arizona Equals Conversation. I'm Jeanne Woodbury, and each week on the show, I sit down and talk with an LGBTQ+ person living in Arizona about their path in life through a network of relationships to communities, places and people. Today I'm publishing an interview I did with Samual Kahrs a trans teenager living in the East East Valley. He's a student athlete and advocate who's been involved in a lot of our Queer People Fit programing and is very active as the leader of his school's GSA club and an advocacy at the state capitol, which is where I first met him. I'll always say that the bestSamual thing about my job is getting to listen to and learn from really smart people. I've had the opportunity to interview politicians, business owners, and something I always try to ask is how they think about making the difficult decisions they have to make, which of course they have to make all the time. And I asked Samual about this, too. As the leader of his school's GSA club, he's had to make some surprisingly difficult decisions. And I really appreciated getting to talk with him about that process for privacy reasons and considering the political climate that we're in. I've censored the name of his school. This won't affect really anything about the interview, but that's why they're some static in a couple of places. With that out of the way, I think it's important to mention that if you're listening to this episode on the date that it's published, it's October 12th. Today is the day that early voting begins in Arizona, and your ballot could be in your mailbox right now. So don't forget to vote. If you're curious about anything on your ballot at all, just visit EqualityArizona.org/vote for our full comprehensive voter guide. And while you're on our website, you can also check out EqualityArizona.org/stories for the full archive of Arizona Equals interviews. And if you want to add your story to the archive, you can sign up to be a guest on a future episode of the podcast. For now, I'll let Samual introduce himself and get this conversation started.

00;02;34;00 - 00;02;38;21

Samual

Hi, my name is Samual Kahrs and I am a youth advocate here in Arizona.

00;02;39;10 - 00;02;40;27

Jeanne

Awesome. Thanks for being on the show with me today.

00;02;40;28 - 00;02;41;18

Samual

No problem.

00;02;42;00 - 00;02;44;29

Jeanne

So we were talking about San Tan Valley. Do you live in San Tan Valley?

00;02;45;00 - 00;02;45;13

Samual

Yeah.

00;02;45;19 - 00;02;46;20

Jeanne

How long have you been there?

00;02;46;21 - 00;02;48;27

Samual

I've been there my entire life, technically.

00;02;48;27 - 00;02;50;16

Jeanne

Okay.

00;02;50;16 - 00;02;57;17

Samual

Well, we were in Gilbert until I was two and we bought our house out there on my second birthday, actually.

00;02;57;25 - 00;02;58;05

Jeanne

Okay.

00;02;58;07 - 00;03;01;12

Samual

So. Yeah. So I've been out there basically my entire life.

00;03;02;02 - 00;03;24;14

Jeanne

And all of that time. I mean, Gilbert. San Tan Valley, East Valley, and then even farther east. What has that been like, I think the general impression I have of the East Valley, I didn't really grow up in the East Valley, but I did grow up in Chandler and Tempe. I think the general impression is it's not the most accessible environment and sometimes it's not the safest environment.

00;03;24;15 - 00;03;34;14

Samual

Yeah. Especially some very rural. Like it's very rural where I'm at. Like literally I can walk in my front door and I can see horses.

00;03;34;14 - 00;03;35;10

Jeanne

It's very rural.

00;03;35;10 - 00;04;45;26

Samual

Yeah, that kind of deal. And so, I mean, I'm not allowed to use the men's restroom at school because they're worried about my safety going into the men's restroom, and they’re worried about me getting hate crime and stuff because it is that rural and a lot of kids, a lot of kids, have problems with me, especially being president of the GSA club and stuff. So a lot of kids know and I'm very open and proud about like being trans and being bisexual and stuff. And so a lot of kids aren't educated on like what it actually means to be trans and like just LGBTQ in general. And so a lot of kids still have problems with me without even meeting me. And then they get to know me and then they realize like, oh, this is like I was just brought up wrong and like the education that they were given by their parents and stuff was not accurate to like the information we have now. Like one of my best friends. Super country. Super Mormon. And he was like extremely against it until he met me.

00;04;46;10 - 00;04;46;27

Jeanne

Oh, yeah.

00;04;46;28 - 00;05;28;10

Samual

And now if I'm see, like, if I say that I'm like dysphoric or something, he'll go on 30 minute rant on why I look masculine that day, or something like that. Yeah. So he's a really cool dude. And so a lot of the time it just takes like educating people. And that's a big thing that like my school’s GSA would do this year is like we're putting up posters and like each month we're putting up a different poster about like different identities within the LGBTQ community and stuff and sort of putting them up around school because we have a lot of LGBTQ kids, a lot who are not out because of their safety.

00;05;29;05 - 00;05;38;17

Jeanne

Well, so that's something I want to ask about, that safety question. You mentioned not being allowed to use the men's restroom because of a safety consideration.

00;05;38;17 - 00;05;38;28

Samual

Yeah.

00;05;39;11 - 00;05;50;27

Jeanne

But it's not a safety consideration that you're making. It's yeah, the school is still excluding you under the banner of safety. And so I wondered, how do you feel about that policy?

00;05;51;18 - 00;06;09;20

Samual

Honestly, I. I appreciate the fact that they give me a restroom so they don't make me go to girls or they let me use the nurse's restroom. And I appreciate the fact that they do that, because I have been deliberately told by guys that if they saw me in the men's restroom, they would beat me up.

00;06;09;27 - 00;06;11;23

Jeanne

Okay, so it's not an abstract.

00;06;11;24 - 00;06;42;05

Samual

Yeah. So it's like so there's a lot of kids who don't feel safe going into either the restrooms and so they also use the nurse’s restroom but I knew when I was at ASU Prep that was not an option, at my old school that was not an option. And so they basically were like, no, you have to use the girls restroom. And so I definitely appreciate able to like actually have like my own restroom, and have somewhere where like, I can feel safe to just use the restroom. So, it's definitely nice.

00;06;42;29 - 00;06;45;25

Jeanne

And it's a big change from not being given that option.

00;06;45;25 - 00;06;46;08

Samual

Yeah.

00;06;46;22 - 00;06;49;12

Jeanne

Is that the main reason you left ASU Prep?

00;06;49;29 - 00;07;04;09

Samual

That played a big portion into it and a lot of kids, a lot of kids had known me for a decade at that point. We’d grown up together. And it wasn't those kids that had problems with name and pronouns. It was the new kids.

00;07;04;26 - 00;07;05;21

Jeanne

Oh, interesting.

00;07;05;23 - 00;07;35;16

Which didn't really make sense to me because I came out like the second week of eighth grade year. So like most of these kids barely even knew me and my eighth grade year, they let in a whole slew of new kids like I had grown up with the same like 60 kids for most of my life, and then they let in like a hundred brand new kids. Like, I hadn't even seen a fight before my eighth grade year. Like, my eighth grade year was the first there was like an actual legit fight at school.

00;07;36;12 - 00;07;41;03

Jeanne

So that's a huge change from a relatively small and longstanding group.

00;07;41;10 - 00;07;41;26

Samual

Yeah.

00;07;42;19 - 00;07;45;12

Jeanne

That big of a culture changes is — pretty hard to —

00;07;45;12 - 00;07;56;18

Samual

Yeah. Especially being in like a prep school and stuff and like, I think as of now we have a total of six kids left.

00;07;57;05 - 00;07;58;10

Jeanne

From that original class?

00;07;58;10 - 00;08;04;28

Samual

From the original 60 kids of my kindergarten class, there’s six kids left, three of which are triplets. So

00;08;04;28 - 00;08;06;07

Jeanne

Oh wow.

00;08;06;07 - 00;08;17;19

Samual

Yeah, so there are not a lot of kids left. And it was the same with my brother's class. He had three kids with a total of 30 students from his original one and only three graduated.

00;08;17;26 - 00;08;21;07

Jeanne

That 10% rate is pretty dismal.

00;08;21;07 - 00;08;21;15

Samual

Yeah.

00;08;21;15 - 00;08;24;17

Jeanne

I think. So is this just a lot of people leaving for other schools?

00;08;24;17 - 00;09;03;17

Samual

Yeah, it's a lot of kids leaving for public school and I think a large portion is like a lot of us realize now that we have a lot of like genius kid burnout. Growing up like in a prep school where we were always two years ahead in every single class, to going to a public school where stuff just wasn't as difficult. I feel like it played into a part of like why I don't do as well in school now and stuff is like I just kind of have that like childhood burn out of like always have to be like on top of everything and then not having to, sort of with COVID and stuff like that.

00;09;03;17 - 00;09;09;04

Jeanne

I imagine COVID has to be a huge disruption, dealing with the kind of threats of violence from being trans.

00;09;09;19 - 00;09;25;25

Samual

It was. Yeah, it was definitely a crazy time because I left at Christmas break and I went to [redacted] middle school and I got third quarter and that was it because it was that spring break that COVID happened.

00;09;25;25 - 00;09;26;18

Jeanne

Oh, wow.

00;09;26;18 - 00;09;32;11

Samual

So I literally got a quarter of public school before I was going into public high school.

00;09;32;11 - 00;09;32;26

Jeanne

Wow.

00;09;32;26 - 00;09;37;12

Samual

Yeah, and it was pretty crazy, it was definitely a culture shock.

00;09;37;19 - 00;09;38;00

Jeanne

I bet.

00;09;38;00 - 00;09;41;00

Samual

Like massive culture shock for sure.

00;09;41;18 - 00;09;51;11

Jeanne

And I imagine, I mean, that's coming after sort of a reverse culture shock at your other school. And is this around the same time that you were coming out as trans?

00;09;51;13 - 00;10;21;05

Samual

Yeah. So basically so I came out originally to my parents and stuff when I was 11. And then when I was 13. So beginning of eighth grade year was when I came out as trans publicly to everyone and started going by Samual, and all that. And that's when I left ASU Prep at the end of first semester and went to [redacted] middle school because I knew I wanted to go to [redacted] high school and [redacted] middle school is the main middle school that feeds into [redacted] high school.

00;10;21;06 - 00;10;22;01

Jeanne

Oh, I see.

00;10;22;01 - 00;10;26;11

Samual

Because it's like the only high school out by us unless you go to like [redacted].

00;10;27;09 - 00;10;28;29

Jeanne

And then that's kind of a father drive.

00;10;29;07 - 00;10;29;25

Samual

Yeah.

00;10;30;06 - 00;10;38;00

Jeanne

So I know now that you're you were saying you're the president of your GSA. Were you involved in school leadership like that before?

00;10;38;15 - 00;10;41;05

Samual

So ASU Prep didn't have like anything.

00;10;41;12 - 00;10;42;02

Jeanne

Oh, really?

00;10;42;02 - 00;11;39;19

Samual

There was nothing. And it was just a large fact was we were still kind of in middle school at the time, but like we had transferred to the high school, eighth grade was at the high school with the high schoolers because most of us took high school classes at that point. But the high school, they still don't have any type of LGBTQ group there. And it's just it's such a small school. I think, at the high school campus, which it's all on ASU Prep Polytechnic campus. And then we have like our own building. So there's two different buildings, you have pre-K through sixth grade and then you have seventh through 12th on like one part of the campus and in seventh and eighth graders have their own building and nine through 12th has their own building.

00;11;39;20 - 00;11;40;17

Jeanne

Okay. Yeah that makes sense.

00;11;41;01 - 00;11;44;28

Samual

But at the time it was just eight through 12th. When I left,

00;11;44;28 - 00;11;46;13

Jeanne

I see.

00;11;46;13 - 00;11;47;16

Samual

But, I —

00;11;47;16 - 00;11;50;10

Jeanne

So it was small enough there weren't really clubs and things like that.

00;11;50;28 - 00;12;00;24

Samual

You had, like NHS, key club or whatever. But it was mostly just like sports. I think we had like a fencing club and that was’nt bad —

00;12;00;24 - 00;12;01;15

Jeanne

That’s kind of fun.

00;12;01;15 - 00;12;01;27

Samual

Yeah.

00;12;02;14 - 00;12;04;05

Jeanne

Were you involved in any sports?

00;12;04;05 - 00;12;40;17

Samual

Yeah, so I did Winter Guard from first through seventh grade, so I didn't I didn't perform my eighth grade year because I was leaving and then we won State in my seventh grade year. I was on the high school level team at that point. So and that was the year that I got my first concussion as well. I was at Arizona regionals during the finals because we made it past the city finals. We made it to the finals and I did a toss and I got hit in the head with my flag and then I had to hang upside down on the tree. So that was fun with a concussion.

00;12;40;28 - 00;12;44;26

Jeanne

I imagine that's not something that's a gendered activity.

00;12;45;01 - 00;12;59;16

Samual

Not really, no. It tends to be at a younger age, more like female dominated. But when you get to the college level teams and high school level teams, there's a lot more guys.

00;12;59;21 - 00;12;59;28

Jeanne

I see.

00;12;59;28 - 00;13;06;07

Samual

Still mostly like a feminine sport, but guys are getting into it a lot more these days.

00;13;06;08 - 00;13;09;10

Jeanne

Not something that would be affected by the new laws again.

00;13;09;11 - 00;13;10;13

Samual

Yeah. No —

00;13;10;13 - 00;13;11;00

Jeanne

trans participation

00;13;11;00 - 00;13;28;13

Samual

Yeah. So it's definitely not one that's going to be affected, because it's a gender neutral, doesn’t matter, which is a good thing because I plan on continuing, I'm not doing it this year, but I plan on continuing on a college level team next year, so

00;13;29;05 - 00;13;35;18

Jeanne

And with the GSA club that you’ve been president of, did you get into that right away? How has that been going?

00;13;36;07 - 00;14;16;06

Samual

Yeah. So basically my, so I’m a junior this year. My freshman year, I reached out to the advisor towards the end of the year because I didn't know we actually had one. Being such a rural school, I didn't think we would have one. It was his last year there, so we were getting a new advisor. So I took over as acting president for one whole meeting before the end of the school year with our new advisor. And if I’m not mistaken she actually lost her prep hour, so she doesn’t have a prep hour this year. So she teaches all six periods.

00;14;16;06 - 00;14;16;27

Jeanne

Oh wow.

00;14;16;27 - 00;14;24;11

Samual

Yeah. So she doesn't get a prep hour like most teachers. So she's extremely busy. So we got a new advisor this year as well.

00;14;25;24 - 00;14;26;27

Jeanne

That's a lot of turnover.

00;14;26;27 - 00;14;42;28

Samual

Yeah. The guy who originally had it, he had it for like, I want to say, like five or six years. So it's just been recently there's been a lot of turnover just because he retired and then the teacher got busy.

00;14;43;11 - 00;14;45;09

Jeanne

Do you think the pandemic is a factor?

00;14;45;24 - 00;14;59;21

Samual

I think the pandemic definitely played a part in like — I think the pandemic played a part in the original advisor leaving, as well as the last advisor not having a prep hour this year. I think —

00;14;59;21 - 00;15;01;06

Jeanne

because of the staffing issues,

00;15;01;06 - 00;15;19;26

Samual

Yeah, we had staffing issues, definitely played a part into it. Luckily this year we were able to find someone and she's also LGBTQ. Which is pretty awesome. And and she is, if I'm not mistaken, the last LGBTQ teacher lasting now. So.

00;15;19;26 - 00;15;20;08

Jeanne

Oh, wow.

00;15;20;08 - 00;15;28;13

Samual

My freshman year we had four on campus and now we're down to one. They all left last year. So for —

00;15;28;25 - 00;15;30;06

Jeanne

Do you know what's going on with that?

00;15;30;17 - 00;15;39;11

Samual

I think they mostly, like a lot of teachers, left, like we lost our entire science department other than one teacher and two of them were in the science department.

00;15;39;11 - 00;15;41;27

Jeanne

So it's not necessarily a LGBT specific thing.

00;15;41;27 - 00;15;48;04

Samual

Yeah, two of them were in the science department and the other one is actually married to the advisor.

00;15;48;04 - 00;15;48;29

Jeanne

Oh okay.

00;15;48;29 - 00;15;58;07

Samual

Yeah. It's definitely pretty awesome. She lets us mostly, it's mostly me who like runs the club and stuff. She just kind of gives us a space to do it in.

00;15;58;23 - 00;16;01;10

Jeanne

I think technically they're supposed to be students led, right?

00;16;01;11 - 00;16;25;21

Samual

Yeah. And some kids had problems with it, like last year with our other advisor her like not really doing anything, but she always sent out like reminders. She always like did everything in the Google classroom, but it was mostly just meant to be like, we lead it and then she just did any like legal paperwork and stuff like that was for her to do so.

00;16;25;26 - 00;16;34;25

Jeanne

And I think that's a good balance. You get to practice some leadership skills. What do you see as some of the challenges of leadership? What are some of the big decisions you've had to make?

00;16;34;28 - 00;16;47;02

Samual

Um, I would say some of the biggest decisions that I've had to make as a leader was advising people to leave the club.

00;16;47;02 - 00;16;47;27

Jeanne

Oh, interesting.

00;16;48;01 - 00;17;36;03

Samual

Because of a new law that got signed in just recently, it gives parents the right to have like written and electronic access to club participation, psychological records, counseling records, stuff like that. And at this point, we don't know how deep into detail those things go. And for some students safety, I had to advise them to leave the club this year. So that they could physically, like stay safe at home and stuff like that, because the last thing they needed was for it to be like they were part of the club. And then their parents were asking and then they got outed and something happened to them. So I think that was a big thing this year that was really sucked, was having to advise people to leave.

00;17;37;04 - 00;17;50;29

Jeanne

Making a decision like that I think is challenging because when you're communicating that to those kids, you have to convey a lot of information, all at once, and you have to explain your reasoning and you have to see how they respond to it.

00;17;51;00 - 00;17;51;14

Samual

Yeah.

00;17;52;04 - 00;17;56;04

Jeanne

What did you do to prepare for those conversations?

00;17;56;10 - 00;19;37;20

Samual

I talked a lot with my vice president as well as with my advisor. We knew that it was something that we may have to worry about coming into the future, but at this time, administration can't give us a clear answer on like what exactly what policies are going to go into place. And so it was just really hard to have to end up making a separate time to just speak with them and let them know like, hey, for like your safety, the best option for you as of right now is to leave the club until we know what policies are going to be going into place. So you definitely sucked having to like [inaudible] because they were new to the club. And it’s their senior year and stuff. And so it really sucked. But a big thing that we're going to push for this year is names, preferred names. So the name that shows up when attendance is printed, for a sub, we want it to be the preferred name, not the legal name as well as the name that is called at graduation and the name that is on the diploma. And that's the big thing that we were originally that was supposed to be my senior plan. So I had to find a new senior plan now, because we always do like a big thing every year, like a big policy change is the goal. But originally it was going to be wearing the same colored gowns for graduation, because originally it was split between girls and boys. Boys wore black girls wore red but it ended up being that administration did it over the summer.

00;19;38;04 - 00;19;42;09

Jeanne

Oh okay. So now you're embarking on this project.

00;19;42;11 - 00;19;45;05

Samual

Yes. And then we have the name changes as what we’re focusing on this year.

00;19;45;07 - 00;19;49;11

Jeanne

How does that kind of policy advocacy work inside of your school?

00;19;49;23 - 00;19;56;11

Samual

Um, a lot of emails, a lot of emails. We have a brand new administration this year.

00;19;56;26 - 00;19;59;25

Jeanne

Oh, wow. Like top to bottom of your administrative staff?

00;19;59;25 - 00;20;17;21

Samual

Basically, except for, I think like three people, but like our — we have a new principal, new V.P. and so they're much more supportive. And it’s not necessarily that the last principals weren't supportive. They just didn't care.

00;20;18;12 - 00;20;19;12

Jeanne

That's a good distinction.

00;20;19;12 - 00;20;49;10

Samual

Yeah. They just they never contacted me but like the new principal she's like “Hey, I really want to come in and sit on a meeting like one of your guys meetings”. And so it's definitely nice to have an administration who is actually like trying to like actually be a part of the change, versus just kind of avoiding it, which is what it felt like a lot last year. So it's definitely nice to have the new administration for sure.

00;20;49;10 - 00;20;53;03

Jeanne

And I'm sure that changes your approach to advocacy.

00;20;53;03 - 00;20;53;19

Samual

Yeah.

00;20;53;29 - 00;20;57;11

Jeanne

You know, you have at least on some level, a partner in the administration.

00;20;57;12 - 00;21;21;21

Samual

Yeah. Especially having a partner at such high level administration. It's kind of nice and it's not necessarily even [redacted] high school in general. It's district that's the problem that we run into. My freshman year, before I legally changed my name, we had in parentheses the name that I wanted to go by.

00;21;21;21 - 00;21;22;08

Jeanne

Oh, right.

00;21;22;29 - 00;21;32;03

Samual

And I had it all the first semester and second semester district was like, “No, you can't do that”.

00;21;33;09 - 00;21;36;14

Jeanne

So the school district overrode the policy at the school.

00;21;36;23 - 00;21;57;13

Samual

Yeah. And it's really weird because like there's a section in like our thing that's like a preferred name, but you can't put anything in. It is not accessible to anyone. So it says preferred name, but there's no way for anyone in administration of any kind to edit it.

00;21;58;16 - 00;21;59;01

Jeanne

Wow.

00;21;59;14 - 00;22;15;27

Samual

So just it's just an option that's not an option. And so a big thing is even if we can't get to where that's the main name that shows up, I want to get to the point where we at least have the option to enter that into the system.

00;22;16;05 - 00;22;16;17

Jeanne

Right.

00;22;16;19 - 00;22;17;14

Samual

Because we don’t even have that option.

00;22;17;14 - 00;22;28;10

Jeanne

At least make the system functional. Yeah. How do you go about then advocating with the school district? Do you have to go to the governing board or are there administrative people?

00;22;28;19 - 00;22;37;11

Samual

So right now I've been mostly in contact with the administration. Administration is getting in contact with district for me.

00;22;37;11 - 00;22;37;23

Jeanne

I see, okay.

00;22;38;06 - 00;22;51;00

Samual

Because if I'm not mistaken, I can't make any formal things. It's administration that has to make formal things. But I've been in contact with administration and they've been in contact with districts, so yeah.

00;22;51;00 - 00;23;02;18

Jeanne

That's interesting. And I imagine that was less helpful. People that could just slow it down. Where you could graduate and then it would have to get handed off to some other student leader.

00;23;02;18 - 00;23;37;18

Samual

Yeah. And it's nice this year I have my vice president who's been my vice president since last year and they will be taking over for me. So next year I will — I will still technically have like the title of president. However, I will be stepping back from my president's — like what I need to do. They will be taking over as like basically acting president and they will be training a new vice president.

00;23;37;20 - 00;23;38;15

Jeanne

That's excellent.

00;23;38;15 - 00;23;50;03

Samual

Yeah. So basically, I'm training them right now to be president. They will then next year, over my supervision, train the next vice president, to be the president when they graduate, so.

00;23;50;03 - 00;24;04;19

Jeanne

I think every organization needs to have that kind of succession planning. But in a high school GSA club, someone might not be president for more than two years. So you're constantly in that kind of succession mode.

00;24;05;09 - 00;24;21;29

Samual

Yeah so especially with next year being my senior year, and then the next year will be their senior years. So we kind of just have to get it to where we have that continuous movement. But I think there oh, they’re, they’re a sophomore so next year is their junior year. So yeah.

00;24;22;00 - 00;24;23;05

Jeanne

So they'll be around.

00;24;23;05 - 00;24;47;24

Samual

Yeah. So they'll be around and stuff. So I think next year we're going to make it that to be part of like the leadership part as the secretary, treasurer, stuff like that. You have to be a junior. So I think we're going to make that so. President will be a senior and VP will be a junior, is basically the goal. So, yeah.

00;24;47;24 - 00;24;57;10

Jeanne

That makes sense. You mentioned how your relationship to these policies changed before and after you updated your legal name.

00;24;57;10 - 00;24;57;22

Samual

Yeah.

00;24;58;05 - 00;25;01;29

Jeanne

I don't think a lot of people really know how that works for minors.

00;25;01;29 - 00;25;02;12

Samual

Yeah.

00;25;02;21 - 00;25;11;16

Jeanne

I could tell people how it works for me. I did it as an adult. But it's not the same. Can you tell me about your experience dealing with all of that?

00;25;11;28 - 00;25;57;29

Samual

Um, it was a lot of work and a lot of money. I want to say just just getting the name legally changed was, I believe, $450 as a minor. You do have to get parental consent. Obviously, parents have to write off on if you're above the age of 13, I believe you have to actually show up for the hearing as well or you have to like sign a paper saying if you consent to the name change. I went to my hearing, my first hearing, we didn't have my Social Security number anywhere, surprisingly enough. So we ended up they were able to fit us in later that day, thankfully.

00;25;58;01 - 00;25;58;17

Jeanne

Oh, that's good.

00;25;59;29 - 00;26;21;21

Samual

But it was a process getting. My parents are separated, so we had to get two new birth certificates. I had to get a new Social Security card, had to get a new passport. And I needed my passport like fast as well, because I was supposed to be going on a trip to Berlin, Prague, Krakow and Budapest.

00;26;21;29 - 00;26;22;26

Jeanne

So you really needed a passport.

00;26;22;27 - 00;26;29;03

Samual

Yes, I really needed a passport by a certain date. I had like 180 days before the trip. I need my passport.

00;26;29;13 - 00;26;31;10

Jeanne

Yeah, that's a very compressed timeline.

00;26;31;10 - 00;26;44;01

Samual

Yeah. So we were rushing and passports were so hard to get because it was like right when COVID started being less worse. And so it was like starting to fly and needing new passports.

00;26;44;16 - 00;26;46;18

Jeanne

So there's a whole administrative backlog and everything.

00;26;47;05 - 00;26;59;11

Samual

Yeah. So it took, you know, normally passports take like, I think the longest we've ever had a passport take was like a month. It took me it took two and a half months for me to get my passport.

00;27;00;05 - 00;27;08;11

Jeanne

And all through this process, you're not just dealing with, like, one administrative body. It's actually a whole bunch. So what was the hearing with, that's with the county?

00;27;08;25 - 00;27;43;23

Samual

Yeah, that was with the county. And so basically he was just like my judge was like, why you want to change your name? And I was like, well, “I'm trans about to be getting my license soon. I've been living this way for three years at this point. I'm going to be starting testosterone soon. I'm pretty sure I like who I am at this point”. And so that was a big reason that like, I got my name changed, and just going in, it's like my sophomore year I did not want to deal with like the whole figuring out the name thing with district.

00;27;43;23 - 00;27;44;16

Jeanne

Such a pain.

00;27;44;16 - 00;27;53;10

Samual

Yeah. So that was a main reason, especially with me getting my license and stuff like that. It was just easier to get it all done.

00;27;54;00 - 00;27;59;29

Jeanne

And once you go through the county process, then you have to go to the Social Security Administration, the MVD.

00;27;59;29 - 00;28;11;00

Samual

The clerk, the county clerk or whatever to get my immuniz — immunization place, to get new birth certificates and stuff like that.

00;28;11;06 - 00;28;13;29

Jeanne

How is the birth certificate process? You were born here in Arizona?

00;28;13;29 - 00;28;19;17

Samual

Yeah, so I was born here in Arizona. So it's pretty easy, I just had to get a new Arizona birth certificate.

00;28;19;17 - 00;28;22;06

Jeanne

And you could update the gender marker and your name and everything?

00;28;22;06 - 00;28;23;15

Samual

Could not update gender markers,

00;28;23;15 - 00;28;24;08

Jeanne

Just your name.

00;28;24;08 - 00;28;46;29

Samual

So, gender marker in the state of Arizona. You have to be two years medically transitioned or have had a gender affirming surgery to get it changed. So I'll be able to change it, if I do get top surgery this summer, I'll be able to change it then. If not, I will change it when I turn eighteen, because I'll be two years on testosterone at that point.

00;28;47;05 - 00;28;54;24

Jeanne

And that's something that the legal struggle around gender affirming care will affect for a lot of people.

00;28;54;24 - 00;29;09;23

Samual

Yeah. And so it's definitely it's weird because like my birth certificate has an F, my license has an X , and then my passport has an M.

00;29;11;14 - 00;29;12;05

Jeanne

So you’re just all across the spectrum.

00;29;12;05 - 00;29;29;09

Samual

Yeah, so I’m just all across the spectrum, and so it was really funny because we had to bring in like a second piece of like identification, and so we brought my license and my passport, and my birth certificate when we had to go get my Social Security card.

00;29;29;10 - 00;29;29;20

Jeanne

Oh yeah.

00;29;30;17 - 00;29;48;13

Samual

And none of the genders matched up. And so then we had to have, we had to have my brother send me a photo of my old birth certificate. And that was the only way that they would let me get my new Social Security card was to prove with my old birth certificate and stuff. So.

00;29;49;13 - 00;29;52;25

Jeanne

Yeah, it becomes just a convoluted mess.

00;29;52;25 - 00;29;54;29

Samual

Yeah, yeah.

00;29;54;29 - 00;30;06;01

Jeanne

I'd love to get your take on everything that's going on with this gender affirming care battle. I think the first time I was aware of you is when you went to testify at a committee meeting about that bill.

00;30;06;07 - 00;30;06;22

Samual

Yeah.

00;30;07;09 - 00;30;21;02

Jeanne

I know that one of the things that's good about the bill that passed is that it mostly doesn't ban a lot of care. Yeah, but one of the things that does change is some gender affirming surgeries for transmasculine people.

00;30;21;02 - 00;31;28;23

Samual

Yeah. So a big thing that right now we are kind of like in contact with lawyers and stuff and we're just trying to understand if these only abide by Arizona. So does it mean like, can I go out of state to get surgery done? And so that's a big thing that we're trying to figure out right now is can I go out of state to get surgery under the age of 18? It wasn't a huge deal at the time, like the surgery part, because my dad and my mom were very set in stone like no surgeries before you’re 18. And then, it was mostly my mom didn't really do any research on it because my dad was a firm no, and he had 50% legal decision making, but he doesn't anymore. My mom has final say, so now she's looking into it more and her work will actually fly me out of state to get gender affirming care.

00;31;28;26 - 00;31;30;03

Jeanne

Is that a policy that the company created —

00;31;30;03 - 00;31;42;26

Samual

Yeah, that was they created it right after Roe v Wade got overturned. So they will fly people out of state for abortions as well as gender affirming care, which is pretty awesome.

00;31;42;26 - 00;31;44;00

Jeanne

Yeah, that's a really good policy.

00;31;44;00 - 00;32;11;11

Samual

Yeah. And they've been super good, especially with like updating their policies. They just started, they started covering testosterone, so I pay like ten bucks a month for like four vials of testosterone. Which, I have an abundance of testosterone now because my doctor has it set up where I get four vials every like 28 days, but I go through like one vial every 28 days.

00;32;11;29 - 00;32;13;03

Jeanne

Oh, interesting.

00;32;13;03 - 00;32;22;02

Samual

So I have like nine unopened, like testosterone vials that I'm just like, “So are we upping my dosage soon?”, we're like, What's going on?

00;32;22;03 - 00;32;25;28

Jeanne

Yeah, I think sometimes there's a ramp up and they just prescribe the whole amount from the start.

00;32;25;28 - 00;32;53;00

Samual

Yeah. So, but yeah. So it's definitely cool that they do that. And there's been a lot of talks about covering gender affirming surgeries starting next year, because a lot of insurance companies are starting to realize that it isn't cosmetic and that it is a medically necessary surgery. And so that's a big reason that like insurance companies haven't covered it in the past is because they saw it as cosmetic.

00;32;53;23 - 00;32;58;02

Jeanne

Are you worried about a version of that bill coming back next year?

00;32;58;10 - 00;33;13;13

Samual

I am actually worried that that is something that will happen. I know there's a few that I'm worried will revamp, one being like — I think it had something to do with like names and pronouns like, um.

00;33;15;24 - 00;33;23;14

Jeanne

There was a bill that said schools couldn't set a disciplinary policy for teachers who wanted to misgender students.

00;33;23;14 - 00;33;32;08

Samual

Yeah, so that was like one that kind of worries me about like coming back and stuff because it didn't move super far this past year.

00;33;32;08 - 00;33;32;29

Jeanne

It really didn't.

00;33;33;25 - 00;33;50;28

Samual

I think it got read like once and then that was it. But I am worried that with these like two new laws that came into place that more laws like that are going to get further into. Yeah, discussions.

00;33;51;00 - 00;34;03;02

Jeanne

It seems like people are emboldened whether it's students in your school or lawmakers, they're emboldened to make more aggressive statements. It's a concerning time, I think.

00;34;03;12 - 00;34;20;10

Samual

Yeah, but I'm really glad that I got into like activism and all that stuff, because it’s always been something that interests me and it's kind of sad that like it was because like legislators were attacking my rights and stuff, but I'm definitely glad that I like got into it.

00;34;20;10 - 00;34;23;11

Jeanne

So yeah. And you're doing it at a lot of different levels.

00;34;23;11 - 00;34;24;02

Samual

Yeah.

00;34;24;02 - 00;34;27;17

Jeanne

Whether it's government or just your own school policy.

00;34;27;17 - 00;34;29;09

Samual

Yeah. Yeah.

00;34;30;23 - 00;34;33;04

Jeanne

I think that's great. Yeah. Thanks for being on the podcast.

00;34;33;04 - 00;34;35;18

Samual

No problem.

00;34;35;18 - 00;35;32;16

Jeanne

Thanks again to Samual for taking the time out of his day to be my guest on the podcast. It's not an easy world out there right now for trans kids or trans teenagers, and it's not like it's easy for trans adults either. But we're adults. It's really something special to see Samual carry himself the way he carries himself and conduct himself as a leader in the circumstances that we all have to live under right now. So I hope that doesn't go underappreciated. If you've listened all the way to the end of this episode, we could really use your support. So please consider visiting EqualityArizona.org/events today to get signed up for some of our volunteer opportunities in the month of October. And if you want to help promote the podcast, you could leave a rating or review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Thanks so much for listening and talk to you again next week.