"People look down upon us, without stopping to think that no homeless person is on the streets by choice," says the anonymous transgender youth featured in a powerful video released recently by the New Yorker. "Something in their lives, or some events, have led to them being on the street."
A camera follows behind the hooded boy has he visits the places he used to sleep and ask for spare money. He recalls how expressing his desire to medically transition at age 15 was "[my] introduction to the streets."
Though kicked out of his home, the teen explains that "as soon as I started living as male full-time, everything changed. I became very much more self-confident; I was beginning to be able to be the person I wanted to be."
While he found many other homeless youth for companionship, life was restless and disheartening.
Viewers follow the teen as he visits the places he used to sleep — on concrete steps, benches, and public parks. The audience hears about how his city has "cracked down on clearing out places where there are homeless people sleeping because it's an 'eyesore'"; how the average person can't fully understand hunger; and how most passersby will offer food to a dog before a human, yet the rare kindnesses of strangers can "restore your faith in humanity just a little bit."
Watch the video below to learn more about just one of the transgender teens, a snapshot of a group who — along with gay, lesbian and bisexual youth — become homeless at two to four times the average rate for youth, according to the Center for American Progress.