Nicolas: “Getting here did not come without struggle”

San Francisco…I always thought about running to the little city by the bay for the longest time growing up, and as I got older the voice in my head started to get louder. Now at the ripe age of 22, I have a place in the city to call home for the next two years, thanks to Larkin Street Youth Services.

Getting here did not come without struggle. My background is as part of the LGBT community, and growing up with a Dad and Mom who are a part of the Southern Baptist church was—and continues to be—rough. Luckily, my Mom came to accept it. My Dad, not so much.

My roots will always be with the church. It’s a part of me. Even so, growing up in a small town like Aiken, South Carolina you learn to keep your mouth shut about certain things. This is especially true when you’re a black transman who can’t pass yet. Everybody in town would’ve dunked me in holy water and thrown bibles at me if I’d even whispered the word, so tomboy clothes it was. Daydreaming about being on the football team was all I had back in those days.

I never understood what I was going through. I would later come to think I was a lesbian, and for a while it worked. I was somewhat happy. When my Mom first found out I liked girls she would go through my phone at night while I was sleeping. She would confront me in the morning asking, “Why are you like this? You never used to be like this.”

She even took it further one time and called up a girl saying, “You’re turning my God-fearing daughter into a lesbian—you disgust me. I never want you to speak to my daughter again.” At that point I knew it was time to come out. In the next week, I did. It didn’t go well at all, but by the next month, my Mom came to accept that I wouldn’t change for anyone.

After that, I started dressing even more like a boy and started wearing my brother’s cologne. I became more and more unsatisfied when people continued to call me a woman. That’s when I started becoming depressed and taking my anger out on my arms. I just wanted to be happy, but I wouldn’t dare tell anyone that I was thinking about being a boy yet.

The day I heard about being transgendered and finally understood that I wasn’t the only one who felt like this, old thoughts about going to San Francisco started popping up in my head.

By then my family was no longer living in South Carolina. We had moved to a cozy house on Mill Bridge in Athens, Georgia. Athens was the town that saved me in a way. I went to my first gay bar, kissed my first girl, and even got into the nasty habit of smoking cigarettes. I knew small town life would never be enough for me though, no matter how liberal it was. I knew being stuck in this body would end up killing me.

I needed a change, so at 18 I left home and moved in with my Dad in Manteca, California. That only lasted for a couple of months before he kicked me out after I came out to him as a lesbian. Before my Dad bought me a plane ticket back home to Georgia, I begged him to drop me off in San Francisco with my biological Mom, Treenia.

I was finally in San Francisco. Later, I left Treenia’s place and found Larkin Street Youth Services. I didn’t come out as Trans until three years down the road because I wanted to tell my Mom first. At 21, I moved back home after finding out my Mom had stage three breast cancer.

I stayed there to support her, but on my 22nd birthday I had to come back to the city. She told me to leave because she knew I wasn’t happy there. All she wanted was for me to be happy. A few months after coming back to the city, I knew I couldn’t put my life on hold anymore. I needed to come out. I surprised my mom by taking a trip up to good ol’ Georgia on the day of her surgery.

A couple days later, I came out as Nicolas Warren Twiggs. I returned to San Francisco as Nicolas Lee Twiggs. My mom picked the middle name. She couldn’t have been happier for me, and that was honestly the happiest moment of my life.

Now fast forward to the present—July 17. Everyone calls me Nico and my testosterone treatments begin at the end of the month. Life is just starting for me, and I couldn’t be happier.