Eco-Lessons From Trans Teen Girls

As Pride comes to an end, what lessons can we learn from two trans teen girls and their joy?

Eco-Lessons From Trans Teen Girls
Photograph by Emily Monforte for The Washington Post

LISTENING: to the ceiling fan swinging above me
excited about my time off next week
couples fight on TV (I'm watching The Ultimatum: Queer Love)

I didn't always know I was bisexual — even when the truth was right there in front of me.

Technically, I had my first kiss in kindergarten when the little girl I would play with next door briefly put her lips on mine. It was innocent, of course, but I knew — even at that tender age — that her being a girl made it different, somehow. I knew kissing anyone was "bad," but kissing her was "worse." In high school, I nearly fell in love with a girl I casually dated on and off for a year or so, but I convinced myself I wasn't gay. I remember breaking her heart as I told her: "I'm straight, but I have feelings for you."

Looking back, I feel disappointed by my cowardice. I couldn't accept the reality of who I was — who I am. Today, I'm bold and unabashed about my identity. There are many reasons for that: the day I explored (for the first time!) a woman's curves, the months I lived a walk away from Seattle's Capitol Hill, and the year I chased that New Zealand Gemini. But there's another reason for my confidence: the queer youth of today. I look at them — especially trans youth — and I see such bravery. I see the tenacity and fearlessness I needed when I was their age.

Today, I'm celebrating the world the queer and trans babies are making possible for all of us. I'm honoring the end of Pride by looking to the future of possibilities — and the keepers of that future.

Welcome to Possibilities, a creative climate newsletter on the possibilities that lie where crisis meets community. I’m Yessenia Funes, a bisexual queer baddie who wasn't always so confident in saying so.

All of this comes to mind because, yes, Pride is coming to a close. Also, I read this gorgeous visual story in The Washington Post a few weeks ago that displays what photographer Emily Monforte described as "the mundanity of growing up." Monforte has spent over two years photographing trans teen girls in Los Angeles to capture that oh-so-relatable mundanity.

Trans stories don't have to be romanticized dramas. They can be boring and dull. They can be real.

Reading their stories, in an as-told-to format to feature writer Caitlin Gibson, was moving. I loved the little lessons offered by the two girls profiled, Evan and Natasha. Though the story doesn't describe them as environmentalists, the hobbies and interests they share definitely put them in the environmentalist bucket for me.

Here's this tidbit on nature and queer ecology that Evan shares in her story:

My dad used to take me on hikes all the time when I was little. I do like to be outside; I like to stop and enjoy nature. My plan for the future is to get tattoos of a butterfly, for my mom, and a beetle, because my dad has a tattoo of beetles on his forearm. Bugs go through this transformation, this cycle where they’re evolving to get to their final state, and I feel like that’s what transitioning is. You’re just evolving and evolving until you get to the point where you feel your best, and you look like your most beautiful or handsome self.

Then, there's Natasha describing her love for thrifting, the most sustainable way to shop:

I love thrifting, because fashion is like, I think, the pinnacle of my whole entire life. Fashion is truly everything to me, and thrifting is amazing, because all these clothes had a past, and it’s like: How you can turn this ugly thrown-away top into the most gorgeous modern-day piece? It’s really fun and exhilarating when you’re looking through so many racks and you find the most gorgeous thing ever.

I hope their stories inspire you as much as they've inspired me. I hope you step outdoors and admire the life around you. That you romanticize buying used. And I hope that this tiny glimpse Emily has shown us of these girls' lives reminds you that our queer youth deserve all the normalcy — homecoming, crushes, shopping, hikes, ballet — that come with being a teenager. They deserve the chance to fall down and pick themselves up.

Most importantly, they deserve the chance to be heard — and to teach us, adults, some lessons, too.

In my inaugural column for the Society of Environmental Journalists, I provide some guidance on how more environmental journalists can be sure to include the LGBTQIA+ community in their reporting.

We all have a duty to support the queer and trans community however we can — during Pride and beyond. 🌀

This is the last version where all the extras will be available to free members. Be sure to upgrade your membership to continue to have access to my collages (which are improving dramatically, if I must say so myself). Free members will have access to what I write in most editions (except those that include interviews), but they will miss the creativity that makes the newsletter so special.

Next week's edition will be short and sweet as I'm taking most of the week off to see my bestest friend in the whole wide world whom I haven't seen in many years. Yay! Maybe I'll interview her for y'all, hehe. There's always a climate angle somewhere.

Rest in Power

While we can't say for certain that climate change led to these specific weather events (we need an attribution study for that), we do know that the Earth's rising temperatures are already creating more disasters like these.

In the Congo, family members are still recovering the bodies of loved ones who passed after floods killed more than 400 people: "Over there in the mud, that's where our house was. We lost six people in our family. In our house, five children died and our mother who is the sixth," said 22-year-old Alliance Mufanzara to Reuters.

Killer floods feel nonstop. The past week has been especially deadly. In Romania, heavy rain brought floods that killed at least one person. In Mexico, flash floods did the same: one person has died, and another is missing. Two people in Kosovo are dead after floods over the past weekend. A rainstorm in Chile killed two people while six remain missing. At least eight people are dead in Ghana.

Here in the U.S., a tornado flattened the town of Matador, Texas. Four people died, and 10 were injured. A separate tornado in Indiana killed one person. In Atlanta, a 55-year-old man died due to tornado-caused extreme weather. Two other people died in Arkansas. A study published earlier this year suggested that hotter temperatures will make tornadoes in the U.S. "more frequent and intense."

Texas has been going through it. At least 11 deaths have been linked back to the ongoing heat wave the state is facing. The deceased were between 60 and 80, reminding us of how vulnerable our elders are during these events. That same heat wave killed a father and son on a hike in Texas. Nine men who were incarcerated have died, too, while in prison since mid-June — likely a result of the heat. The heat wave also killed another 21 people in northern Mexico.

Currently Reading

The talented Jane C. Hu writes about psychedelics and the nuanced science behind microdosing.

As a pizza lover, I super appreciated this fact check from the HEATED team on the false narrative that climate legislation was coming for New Yorkers' pizza.

On the migrants Florida sent to Martha's Vineyard: "This is home now. I don’t want to leave."

My Sriracha-obsessed partner needs to read this one. I bet you do, too.

Can someone please write an ode to loud quitting? Fuck being nice to whack-ass bosses, y'all. Let's celebrate this shit. PLEASE.  

For the New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert goes deep on everything we need to know about plastics — and how they're poisoning us.


008. THE RAINBOW PORTAL by Yessenia Funes using mixed media, 2023.
in we go,
into the unknown

a medley of colors,
an explosion of glitter,
an abundance of love,
a truth to consider

oh, this is love, of course
a pot of gold
at the end of a rainbow
wealth in the truest sense

that's what we find
when we step
into the rainbow portal
What are you reading and seeing? Join the community and become a paid member so that you can share in a comment.

See you next week. xx

- Yessenia