By Ashton Leber
Students gathered in Bliss Hall lounge to warmly welcome transgender activist and YouTuber Skylar Kergil, who spoke on Tuesday, Oct. 18, for PRISM’s annual Queer Awareness Month.
The evening was filled with insight into the LGBTQIA+ community. The Bliss Hall lounge provided a safe space for students to discuss the often taboo topic of transitioning from one gender identity to another.
“(Kergil is) an important role model, specifically for trans youth,” said Lauren Broadwell, PRISM vice president and a sophomore psychology and women’s and gender studies double major. “It’s nice to get different perspectives on different people for the campus.”
Kergil, who hails from Boston, kicked off the evening by explaining his transitioning process from female to male.
“The last time that I was on this campus, I was binding my chest looking like a punk little rascal,” Kergil said. “Other people on the College tour were looking at me and my mom like, ‘Where is that one from?’”
Kergil opened up about his journey and the difficulties that came with struggling to accept one’s gender identity. He reminded students that he was fully comfortable talking about his transition and encouraged those in the audience to ask him about anything.
Kergil told students that he knew from a young age that his gender identity did not align with his given name, Katherine. His first coming out experience happened between 3 and 5 years old while visiting his grandfather in California.
Kergil firmly told his family, “You can call me Mike.” That summer, Katherine disappeared and Mike was the only name to which Kergil responded. Things became even clearer as Kergil grew older.
“As I went through middle school, puberty hit me — and not in the direction I wanted it to,” Kergil said.
This marked a tough time for Kergil. In addition to his identity issues, Kergil faced a number of family issues — his mother was diagnosed with blood cancer and his brother abused drugs and alcohol.
But it wasn’t long until Kergil started dating his first girlfriend. The pair became the first queer couple at the school, drawing even more unwanted attention to Kergil.
“I didn’t understand why this was so weird,” Kergil said. “People saw us very clearly as a lesbian relationship. I’m not gay. I’m not bi. I’m straight.”
Kergil knew he was a man, not a woman. This prompted him to cut off his hair and embrace his identity as a transgender man.
While Kergil felt empowered by the decision, he remained reluctant to tell his mother, who was struggling with cancer.
But his mom was accepting — her only worry being that someone might try to hurt Kergil. After telling his mother, Kergil began to tell teachers to identify him with ‘he/him’ pronouns and asked to be called by the name Skylar.
In October of his junior year of high school, Kergil began testosterone treatments. To document the coming changes, Kergil began recording his voice and making YouTube videos.
By freshman year of college, Kergil officially changed his name to Skylar. But the biggest step in Kergil’s transition was top surgery, after which Kergil said he felt fully free to be himself.
Today, Kergil exudes self-confidence. He works as a bank teller in Massachusetts. In his free time, Kergil is a singer, songwriter and transgender activist who travels the country to share his experiences with others.
YouTube has allowed Kergil to reach the transgender community around the world and serve as a role model to others struggling with identity issues.
“I thoroughly enjoyed hearing him speak,” said Sabrina Gomez, a freshman communication studies major. “It’s nice to hear someone make jokes and try to create a light atmosphere about their coming out transition.”