2013 HALO Honoree: Zachary Kerr
Zachary Kerr is a female to male transgender. Born as one of three identical female triplets, Zach grew up knowing that what he felt on the inside didn't reflect what was on the outside. After years of grappling with his gender identity, Zach decided to undergo a transitional journey to become male. It was a journey rife with challenges and obstacles, but ultimately happiness, and inspired him to become a leading advocate for the transgender community. Zach gave us some exclusive insight into his involvement with the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and other LGBT organizations, as well as all of the deets on his giveback experience with Josh Hutcherson!
According to Zach, the Gay Straight Alliance caters to LGBT questioning youth, but is available or everybody. "Many GSA chapters have discussions to talk about what it's like to be LGBT not only in your own community, but in the US, world, and different areas of life." Zach explained that there are also GSA chapters that are activism based. For example, they partake in movements like Day of Silence, where participants take a vow of silence for the day in solidarity against LGBT bullying. When we asked him to describe the organization in a nutshell he said, "It's a rainbow! It comes in different varieties of shapes, colors, and awesomeness based on where you are."
In addition to his involvement with GSA, Zach works as an LGBT educator for the Greater Boston chapter of Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG for short. Zach brings his knowledge to various settings informing students, teachers, corporations, church groups, hospitals, and social workers about ways in which they can support LGBT youth. When speaking with these different groups of people, Zach uses his own personal story to give insight into the transgender community: "Growing up being transgender youth, being born biologically female but always feeling male, I use my story to give a face to the issue and make them see why it is important. This is a real thing that kids and people go through that affects them for their whole lives."
TeenNick fans might remember Degrassi's Adam Torres, who was transgender. Adam's story resonated with fans, either helping them with their own transition or opening their eyes to the life of a transgender. When we asked Zach if he knew of Adam's story and to what extent he could relate, he said this: "When I first saw Adam's character, it was awesome to see kids like myself represented. One of the biggest things I identified with Adam's story was when Adam's mom called him his female name, stopped herself, and corrected herself. My mom did that, too. Things are different, but there were a lot of similarities."
When we asked Zach what kind of advice he might have for questioning youth, he gave an answer wise beyond his years: "My biggest piece of advice would be to tell teens that if they're coming out, their friends are still their friends. [Your sexuality] isn't the defining thing that made them be your friend. It wasn't a deciding factor then and it doesn't have to be now."
Zach met actor/LGBT ally Josh Hutcherson as a part of his HALO giveback, and it was an experience he remembers fondly: "I can't explain it without smiling how amazing it was meeting Josh, just getting to meet someone who identifies as a straight ally who is pretty much as passionate as I am. I never met someone who is not LGBT be so passionate about the community. I'm sitting in my dorm room smiling right now. He just wants to see our community do good, and he just kicked it up a level."
Zach is currently a freshman at Wheelock College, pursuing a degree in social work with the hopes of one day becoming a therapist for transgender youth. "I'd like to be able to say, 'I know exactly how you feel.'"
Don't miss Zach and the rest of the outstanding honorees at the 2013 HALO Awards on Nick@Nite this Sunday, November 17th at 8pm ET!