By Gabrielle Smith
Assistant A&E Editor
Late Thursday night on Nov. 30, down on Main Street in Kutztown PA, I sat across from Skylar Kergil in Spuds as he enjoyed his ‘Philly Fries.’ “These are exactly what I needed after my 8-hour drive,” he said
Skylar, a blonde-haired, brown-eyed, 26-year-old young man with an incredible positive vibe and upbeat attitude, had journeyed from Boston, Massachusetts, to speak to the KU community to tell the story of his life as a transgender man.
Skylar has been making a difference in the LBGTQ community for the past six years. With over 100,000 subscribers on YouTube, his vlogs have reached out to people of all ages, struggling with their gender identity and sexual orientation, looking for a connection on what it means to be transgender.
A person who is transgender identifies as the opposite gender from what they were given at birth. Skylar himself is female to male (FTM) transgender who since 2009 has been a transgender activist. Outside of his videos, he has spoken at events at universities, informing students and their parents of his experiences, hoping to help them better understand themselves and the struggles that they face.
When he first came out when he was 17 years old and first started taking testosterone to help his body develop male features, he wanted to be able to record his voice and be able to see it change over time. He started to record himself on his MacBook until he was out of storage.
That is when he got the idea to upload the videos on YouTube. He was not thinking that anyone else would see it, he was doing it merely for himself to see and to track his progress. But people did see it, and soon he started to grow a fan base and numerous followers.
“I began to have a community…so I changed my blogs from MacBook to being like let me talk about how I felt about this and talk about my past and my future,” said Kergil. “More so a big part of it was that I accidently stumbled upon YouTube and people wanted that sort of information and I felt like a must closer connection to the transgender community through the online spirit than I expected.”
When he first started to transition in 2006, Skylar had only found approximately two other transgender people who recorded themselves on YouTube, and since he could not find any resources in his local community, he started his transition completely alone.
Coming out to his family was a rocky experience for him. His parents and older brother were not understanding of the situation. “My mom was not fully supportive. [She said] ‘It’s going to make your life harder’ and she didn’t understand that I didn’t have a choice about it. It really felt like life or death for me and my dad was the same way. He was like ‘Why don’t you just be a lesbian, that’s easier’ even though it probably wouldn’t have been any easier in today’s world.” His older brother also struggled with drug and alcohol abuse and took his frustration out on Kergil’s transgender identity, being completely against him for six years.
He feels very fortunate that his family did eventually come around and started to understand and be respectful of him. He had gone to see a gender therapist who specialized with gender youth clients and she had given him the language and knowledge that he needed to move forward in his life.
He had eventually brought his parents with him to one of his sessions since they were all adults and she could relate to them better with informing them. That is when they realized that Skylar’s situation was not a choice. His mom is now his biggest supporter and years later, his brother has apologized, accepted and respected him.
Kergil is also a musician. He plays acoustic guitar and writes music from the heart. Aside from talking to the students of KU, he played them a few songs that he had written himself, a lot about people he once knew and getting through difficult times. He also had written his first book titled, ‘Before I Had the Words,’ which is a memoir on his life and the emotional struggles he faced on his journey to becoming who he was meant to be.
“If I could, I would have been born a boy. But instead, I took these steps to become comfortable with myself and become a loving kind human being who feels like himself. And I would hope that if we all took a step back and we look at our own lives and then the lives of those around us and those of the greater world, that we will recognize that we are all just trying to be our best selves and that no one would choose to be transgender if we had a choice.
The best thing we can do as human beings is to recognize that some people are a certain way and some people are a different way. And the most important thing is to love and support them because otherwise then they might not be there and they’re still going to give value with their lives and existence. I think that we are so much more than the identities we inhabit. We are so much more energies than that and to keep encouraging people to keep being their best selves.”
You can follow Kergil as he continues his journey on YouTube by searching his username, Skylarkeleven.