August 19, 2019
Growing up, Penelope says she could never completely relate to her three brothers. As a transgender woman, she spent the majority of her youth hiding who she really was underneath clothes that didn’t express her true self.
It wasn’t until she connected with Ottawa’s Kind Space, a local centre currently working on a special project with United Way Ottawa to support LGBTQ+ youth, that she said she began to feel confident, comfortable and much more hopeful for the future.
“My mom was telling me a few weeks ago how she always wanted a daughter,” she said, “and I replied, ‘well, I’m here, I’m just really late.’”
The impact gender-affirming clothing has on mental health
Penelope next to the ‘Wall of Happy’, pointing at a photo of her in her new clothes, thanks to Affirm Project.
Penelope with a collection of clothes that will be featured at the next Affirm Project clothing swap.
As the project has started to spread its wings recently, Penelope says she’s excited for the next clothing swap and hopes the project will eventually have Ottawa-wide recognition. With her improved confidence, Penelope hopes to one day run an educational workshop all about the LGBTQ+ community.
While doing so, she’ll be able to confidently wear the dresses she adores while surrounded by the supportive network at Kind Space. She says she’s already seen a big improvement in the way she chooses to dress now compared to when she first started exploring her identity in high school.
“Kind Space—it says it right in the name. People here are just so kind,” Penelope says, adding that her 30-minute bike ride to their location is well worth it. “They make me feel happy about myself. They make me feel like I want to continue as fast as I can, and not stop.”
United Way Ottawa is proud to support programs that help LGBTQ+ children, youth and families on their path to pride. We advocate and support social justice initiatives within our city that support diversity, inclusion and belonging, while combating homophobia, transphobia, discrimination, and other issues that prevent LGBTQ+ people from reaching their full potential.