My first stranger is an 18-year-old boy named Kaden who has began the process of a gender transition from a female to a male. His birth name was Krista but two years ago he decided to change his name and started taking testosterone. He has been seeing a doctor to eventually have the full surgery to finally be able to present himself in his authentic identity to his reflection in the mirror. Kaden’s mother hasn’t been present in his teen years, so his grandmother has been raising him. She refuses to support his decision or call him by his new chosen name and has made Kaden leave the home. I don’t think I could possibly begin to understand what its like for Kaden. I have always been comfortable being a woman and I am much older now but still trying to find out who I am. I have recently become a Christian believer and believe I Am who God made me. I can’t imagine what the negative social impact that all of this change in a teenager’s life could have who is going through this process. Without the support from his family, the financial barrier he must experience for transition has to be extremely difficult. I know as a teen I was very hormonal and emotional but being his age and dealing with the physical and emotional effects of transitioning is hard for me to fathom. I have a lot of respect for the decision he has made. Despite all the negatives this teen has had to face on a daily basis, he has accepted who he is and no longer has to live a lie which that in itself is a huge success.
My second stranger is someone whose traditional religion is Judaism, has moved to this country and is living in the amongst the elder population. Growing up in my house, there was no religion present and we didn’t have any family traditions, but this person has a strong sense of spirituality and tradition. I have always lived in America and never had to travel to another country with my whole family. I also am still young, so I don’t know what it would be like to be in the elder population with all of the social issues that occur for our elderly. I also don’t know much about Judaism, but I do know that Jews have been pushed out of their homeland to all corners of the world where they have to ponder the foundations of their fate depending on where they live, if they are rich or poor. I couldn’t conceive what this person could have to endure from being a religious minority who, according to the bible, have a very important role to fulfill in this world, being in a different country and having to experience a constant stream of hatred at the same time.
My third stranger is an elderly woman who is spending 25 to life in a federal prison and has been diagnosed with dementia. She is beginning to lose pieces of herself day by day and has recently forgot why she is there in the first place. The prison staff is not equipped to help this woman and believe she would be better off in a nursing home but because of the seriousness of her crimes the nursing home is afraid to take her. She is now a prisoner of her own mind. I have never had any type of experience with dementia in my lifetime and could not imagine what it is like to forget pieces of your life on a daily basis to where you eventually don’t know who you are. I have experienced some serious physical injuries in my life but never anything cognitively disabling. I also have never spent any time in prison so being in this person’s shoes has to be debilitating in itself. Having no one, spending the rest of your life in a prison and not knowing how or why you got there is extremely upsetting.