It's going to be a special holiday for Daniel Despins. For the first time in years, the transgender teen will have Christmas dinner at home in Saskatoon.
"I'm very anxious to see my family," said Despins.
Born female, the 18-year old has struggled since he revealed his gender identity to his mother four years ago.
"She was mad," said Despins. "She came into my room with my stepfather and she said, 'You have to get out.'"
After that, Despins wandered from place to place, living in 15 different homes over the past four years.
More than once Despins spent the night sleeping on the streets of downtown Saskatoon, taking refuge in the library to keep warm in the winter.
"It's really hard to be on the streets with no family," he said. You have no one to depend on. It's just you, and you have to do what you can to survive."
Despins said he and his mother are mending their relationship.
"It has just been slowly building up to the point where we are saying, 'I love you again,'" he said.
His relationship with his 95-year-old grandmother is growing too.
"This weekend she called me Dani, and she called me Dani in 'he him' pronouns," he said.
Road to reconciliation
The transgender teen's story isn't unique. Counsellors at OUT Saskatoon regularly see young people who are abandoned by their families and communities.
Marjorie Beaucage has worked with LGBT youth for years, including Despins. She said giving teens a safe space to talk is critical.
"Whether someone listens — 'I hear you. I understand you. I accept you,'" she said. "For every human relationship, that's all it takes."
While Despins is only sharing Christmas dinner with his family this year, he's hopeful that a full reconciliation lies ahead.
"We talk almost every day," said Despins. "It's much better."