My name is Brandon Fiedler, I am 20 years old and I attended WFA’s Rainbow Camp in 2013. Ever since I was four years old I knew something wasn’t right about me. I was always wearing guy’s clothes, doing guy things and I hated any moment of my childhood where I needed to be a girl. I always felt and wanted to be a boy, but because I
was born in a female body I thought I could never truly be myself.
Around grade six or seven, I became very angry and depressed because I couldn’t truly be myself. I started to hit puberty and my body was getting more uncomfortable for me. I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, got kicked out of school and had lots of family issues to the point where I was put in the care of Children’s Aid in 2010 when I was around the age of fifteen. I ended up getting a lot worse due to the environment of living in a group home and living with kids with similar issues as me. One thing no one knew about me was my deepest secret: I was a male trapped in a
Eventually, due to my anger, I ended up moving eleven times within the year as no one could help me and understand why I was so upset and angry. In 2011, I ended up in a group home called the Iris Program in Durham Region, and it was pretty much my last chance to succeed. The placement before that I tried to come out as being male, but they were not accepting to the point where staff beat me up and locked me in rooms. When I moved to Iris, I ignored the fact that I was actually a male, but then after living there for a year I knew I had to come out of myself to be happy. In 2012,
I came out as Brandon. It was extremely hard for me due to past experiences of bullying, but I knew it was the thing I needed to do to finally be happy.When I turned eighteen, my name was legally changed to Brandon. In the summer of 2013, I went to WFA’s Rainbow Camp. I heard about WFA’s Rainbow Camp through my Children’s Aid worker
Susan. She told me about this camp and I was very excited until she told me one thing: I had to take a plane to Sault Ste. Marie. In 2012, I never went out or hung out with friends and pretty much stayed in my room all day on the computer, so for me to even go outside was a huge thing, and to even think I was going to go to Sault Ste. Marie
was a whole other story. My staff at Iris eventually convinced me to go to camp.
When I got to the airport all of the kids from camp were waiting outside for everyone to arrive. Everyone was extremely friendly and I felt welcomed right away. We became really close very quickly...we were that very loud group in the airport that wouldn’t stop laughing and being loud. When we got off the plane, the staff was there right away to greet us, and was so nice and made us feel really comfortable.
When I first got to camp I got really homesick because I was never so far away by myself before, but to be honest I wasn’t by myself. Everyone made sure I was ok and felt welcomed at camp. They made me feel like I could talk to them whenever I was feeling down or just home sick. We were never bored at camp and were always on the go.
There were many activates and games for all of us and everyone had a blast. We got to make tie dye shirts, bracelets, go swimming, play games, dance, sing, campfires and more. Everyone was accepting of everyone and no questions were asked. We also learned lots of great things about LGBTQ, and I became very educated while there. I got to meet other kids like me who were going through similar struggles, and we were able to connect, which was nice because I didn’t feel like I was alone. The meals were absolutely amazing and we were very spoiled.
When camp was over, I didn’t want to leave because honestly WFA’s Rainbow Camp felt like a family to me. For once in my life I felt comfortable and could truly be myself. The staff and even the youth taught me it’s ok to be yourself and there are so many great pals in the world that love and care about you. When I came home from WFA’s Rainbow Camp I was waiting for an appointment for me to start hormone treatment.
Going back to Iris and waiting for this was a struggle for me. I became very depressed as I was back to reality living with rude kids. I was happy I got to keep in contact with all the kids from camp as I made a Facebook group for all of us to keep connected, help each other out when we were having a bad day or just to be our silly selves. Whenever I was having a bad day I could just go right onto the Facebook group and everyone would make sure I was ok even though some of them were four to five hours away from me. WFA’s Rainbow Camp is a home away from home. I always think about it. I sometimes wish it was a group home and I could live there.
In October 2013, I started my hormone treatment and in January 2014 I got my female to male double incision top surgery. As I turned nineteen, I had to move out of my group home and live on my own, which was extremely hard due to bullying, helping my friend whose father was dying and my own personal issues and being alone. I got very depressed and suicidal to the point where I overdosed on 40 Adderall. It was a scary and dark time for me, but WFA’s Rainbow Camp helped me get back on my feet, as did some of my old staff from Iris. I remember how much they loved me and how they were truly important pals in my life so I made a change. I found myself my own apartment, got a job, went back to high school and will be graduating in June. I am going to college in January 2016 to become a child and youth worker, and I am also a guest speaker and performer about my story being in care as a transgendered youth.
WFA’s Rainbow Camp helped me learn that it’s ok to truly be yourself. They helped me boostmy confidence a lot. I would never think I would be guest speaking and trying to help and giveadvice to youth who are going through similar struggles. WFA’s Rainbow Camp is such an amazing experience and I was so upset I couldn’t make it for 2014. I am really excited for the 2015 year of camp and I’m hopefully coming to camp as a counsellor this year. If you are thinking about bringing your kid to WFA’s Rainbow Camp, you definitely should as it helped me for the better. I am so excited to see everyone’s faces, both old and new, and make new memories. WFA’s Rainbow Camp taught me that things do get better.