Kris at the LGBT Center of Raleigh's Welcome Desk
Kris (they/ them) is a regular volunteer at the LGBT Center of Raleigh and a leader in the Trans Initiative program. Kris has had quite the journey to get to where they are, and now that they are living their truth, they are sharing the love.
Kris is from Zebulon, NC – a very conservative town in the easternmost part of Wake County. Kris describes it as “a whole different world.” Raised by their homophobic and transphobic parents, Kris dealt with mental health issues because of their identity. An idea they explored primarily online until a potential suicide attempt. This led to Kris being admitted to Holly Hill Hospital for addiction treatment and suicide prevention. While there, Kris’ therapist insisted they come out as transgender to their parents. While Kris’ parents were not accepting or supportive, it was safe for Kris to go home. And the final suggestion made by the therapist before Kris left was to visit the LGBT Center of Raleigh.
Once Kris settled back in at home and secured a job, they took the therapist’s suggestion and visited the LGBT Center. Kris says “nervous was an understatement” for their first visit. The visit was on First Friday in February 2016, and Kris met Kellie Burris, who runs the Women’s Initiative program at the Center. Kellie invited Kris to their upcoming event, and Kris accepted, continuing to participate in every upcoming Women’s Initiative event, despite not identifying as female.
Over time, Kris built the courage to attend a Trans Initiative meeting, and they describe the experience as surreal. Kris spent their life trapped in a small town, raised by a conservative family, and the majority of Kris’ Trans connections and friends were made online. But everything was different at that first meeting. Kris was surrounded by people like them. Kris was surrounded by love and support, and it wasn’t long until Kris started calling them family.
Kris felt that their mental health was improving with each visit to the Center. So Kris continued to visit at least once a week and has met many of their best friends here. On November 8, 2016, Election Day, Kris moved out of their small town prison and into a place in Raleigh. Kris says they never would have been able to do this alone. Kris attended the Election Day viewing party at the Center, and although it was a devastating night for the country and especially our community, Kris was able to seek comfort in their newfound family.
In December 2016, Kris attended a volunteer orientation session at the Center, and they have since logged over 150 volunteer hours. Kris continues to be involved in the Trans Initiative and is now a part of their leadership team. Kris runs the monthly Gender Social at the Center, they occasionally run the Gender Discussion Group, they represented the Trans Initiative at Out! Raleigh, and represented the LGBT Center at Fort Bragg’s first annual Pride Ceremony.
Kris has quickly transitioned from a nervous first time visitor to an amazing volunteer and leader. Kris says they are constantly learning and growing because of the Center and enjoys to see others grow too. They say “there is nothing like meeting a Trans person at the Center who hasn’t come out yet and is at their first support group meeting, and comparing where they are months later. Seeing them present as their true selves and following their journey as they come out to friends and family, and being there for them every step of the way.”
There is something for everyone at the Center, and the experience is what you make of it. Kris has made it home.
published on 7/25/2017 • written by Jack Butler