I hopped off the plane at LAX with my dreams… and 4 pieces of heavy luggage. Today marks one month since I moved to LA. When I was waiting in baggage claim, it still hadn’t hit me that I had just packed most of my belongings and moved across the country. My mom’s best friend picked me up from the airport and took me to dinner with her two high school aged daughters. I was happy to realize I’d finally be able to have a real relationship with her girls. Their mom is literally my Aunt (and the one who named me) yet they didn’t feel like cousins at first.
Doodles, as everyone calls her, dropped me off at a family member's place in West Hollywood where I would stay for the next nine days. I was thankful to have a place to sleep and focus while I searched for an apartment and a job… at the same time. I wasted no time; the next morning I took an Uber to Sunset Boulevard, and over the course of a few hours, walked six miles, and went into every single hotel, restaurant, and gym to drop off my resume and introduce myself in person. If they weren’t delighted by my old school introduction, they were confused as to why I wasn’t “just applying online.”
The last hotel I looked at was Chateau Marmont, a hotel owned by the Standard Hotel's Chairman. While I scoped out the premises, I saw a guy I had seen in baggage claim the night before. He was having a meeting over coffee, and I didn’t want to disturb him, but I caught him looking over at me. Clearly we both recognized one another so I went over to introduce myself. He told me his name (which I can’t remember) but he made it seem like he was “somebody.” He was most definitely gay and seemed too familiar. Turns out he lived just a few blocks from my first job at the Standard High Line. After a few minutes of small talk I left and said “maybe this will be a thing, running into each other all over Los Angeles.” I strutted off.
I walked home and stopped on my way at a Trader Joe's. It felt weird, figuring out what food to buy for an indefinite amount of time. I left with a few staples and walked back to the apartment. After dropping off my stuff, I went back out to all the local hotspots to hand out more resumes. I was exhausted. The next eight days were filled with job searching and apartment hunting. During my first weekend here, I went out with friends from high school who had moved out to LA. Catching up over drinks I saw how situated they were in their new lives, and it assured me that I soon would be too.
Sometime in my first week I found what seemed like the perfect studio apartment sublet in a prime West Hollywood location. Just three days before I was supposed to move in, she messaged me and said she was going to give the apartment to her boyfriends best friend. I started to panic. Everyone I spoke with told me “Try Craigslist, I’ve only ever had good luck with Craigslist, it's safe here.” The next morning I went to my first Craigslisting, and it was my worst nightmare come to life. It was dark and dingy, with a broken window and cobwebs not only on the ceilings but the floors too. It was so dusty and creepy the woman showing it to me said, “I'm so sorry I wouldn't want to live here either. He asked me to show it to you as a favor.” I left in a hurry. I set up another apartment to visit. When I got there, there were crosses all over the walls and she informed me I wouldn't be able to have friends over… NEXT. Except there weren’t any other options available.
I felt totally defeated. I had a one week agreement with my current living arrangement and I had to be out by the 1st. Well, it was the 31st and I was panicking. I felt helpless, I felt like this move might have been a mistake. I have always had a plan for my life and have always managed to be organized and make sure things were in place. I hit a low, and it was only my first week. To cope, I did as I always do and hopped on dating apps. I went on 6 dates in 9 days and was able to explore a good amount of LA. I went on dates in Santa Monica, The Grove, The Beverly Hills Hotel, a picnic on the beach, a night out at a West Hollywood hotspot, and had dinner made for me. During my day in Santa Monica, I strolled along the pier and as I walked over the ocean it hit me: I’ve arrived, and I was going to be okay.
I needed an apartment that was two things: 1. safe and 2. clean. We should all know by now that I am a bit more high maintenance than that. Luckily, things started to look up for me. I went to my family friend’s house for the next six days and was able to de-stress. I figured I could live with them and save up money until I found a place. It would not be ideal given their location in the valley (about 30 minutes from the city of LA). And then it happened. The most perfect apartment I could have asked for came to me. I received a message from a girl my age who was looking to sublease her place until the end of May. I went to see it the next day and was sold on it. A few days later I moved in... and got a job all in one day.
With an apartment and a job in hand, I have one thing on my mind: how to change society’s perspective on transgender policies and experiences. I am heartbroken over learning yesterday that the Trump administration has rescinded guidance on rights of transgender students to use bathrooms based on the gender they identify with. This is why I am here, to make sure that all transgender and gender nonconforming children have the easiest possible transition. I am enraged that our country has a leader who promotes digression, but this will only make me and other activists fight harder. My next steps for protecting transgender rights are coming soon.
Writen by Corey Rae --- Edited by Emily Turner