British Columbia·Photos

Non-binary teen prepares for first Pride

Micah Cottingham is a 15-year-old who identifies as non-binary, trans, queer, and bisexual. Sunday is their first Pride parade since coming out.

'It was like a door opening for me, it was such a revelation to know this was an option'

Micah sits in their bedroom while preparing a string of rainbow LED lights that they plan to hang around their bed. Micah uses the pronouns they and them. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Micah Cottingham is a 15-year-old who identifies as non-binary, trans, queer, and bisexual.

The Vancouver teen began identifying as non-binary two years ago visiting a science fiction convention in Seattle.

There, Micah connected with several non-binary youth who used they/them pronouns. Micah too uses these pronouns.

"It was like a door opening for me, it was such a revelation to know this was an option and it felt so much better than anything I'd ever heard before."

Micah praises the book, A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns, saying it can help those unclear on how to use them.  (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Micah says gender is a construct. "As a society, we get a person's sex and gender mixed up together when they're really different things.

"I'm just really glad that there are some identities out there that actually fit for a lot of people."

Micah says they used to be bullied about their interests at school but since finding a supportive friend group life has been much better. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

On Thursday, Micah and their mother, Alexandra Samuel, spent the day preparing for their first Vancouver Pride parade since coming out.

Micah's mother, Alexandra Samuel, and Micah speak openly about most topics including sex, gender, and politics. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Samuel said that as a "grammar nut," she had a hard time adapting to the new pronouns at first. 

Micah, meanwhile, praises their family for their support. "You guys make me feel so accepted and just let me be who I want to be." 

Micah says deciding what to wear in the morning is a daily struggle. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)
Micah puts on a jacket covered in pins they have collected. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Micah says it's hard to find clothes that match their gender identity. Some days Micah feels like wearing a dress, other days, the opposite. "If I wear a skirt I will die."

This feeling is part of Micah's gender dysphoria. "It's the feeling that my gender does not match who I am…and is relieved the most when I'm wearing something that I just feel awesome in."

For that reason, finding the right outfit for Pride is very important. 

Michah's mother, Alexandra Samuel, loves to shop. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Alexandra and Micah start their search on West 4th Avenue in Vancouver at Urban Outfitters. 

Micah looks through garments in the store. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)
Micah goes into the dress section and quickly leaves, saying that it makes them feel uncomfortable. They don’t want to wear anything in there today. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Micah says the ideal outfit will be, "very sparkly and very rainbow."

Samuel and Micah pick out a pair of sparkly shorts to try on. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)
Micah loves the glitter-adorned shorts. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)
Samuel and Micah head to The Attic Salon for a haircut and colour by hair stylist Ashley Caswell.  (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)
During the consultation, Micah and Caswell decide to dye Micah's hair purple and blue.  (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)
Micah is excited by the new hairdo. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)
Micah says they understand their experience as a non-binary trans person comes from a privileged lens, and not everyone who identifies this way is as lucky. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Micah understands that there's more to Pride than just a celebration. They said it means being able to be free from judgment of being gay or trans. 

"It means being able to be yourself without people hurling bricks or trying to kill you for it…It's knowing you're surrounded by friends who know you and support you and love you for who you are."

Ashley finishes up Micah’s haircut. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)
Micah looks confident in their new hair style. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Micah is pleased with the new look, but is still missing pieces for Sunday's outfit. The next stop is Little Sister's on Davie Street. 

Micah studies a Pride Parade map in the car on the way to the store. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)
Little Sister’s bookstore has been a staple in the Davie Street Village since 1983. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)
Micah finds rainbow patterned high socks. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)
Although they have an open dialogue about most topics, including sex, Micah is still embarrassed when their mother shows interest in some adult items near the till. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Micah picks up a pair of rainbow-patterned socks and a trans flag at Little Sister's. 

Micah sports the rainbow high socks from Little Sister's. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

After looking through several of their favourite local stores, Samuel and Micah decide nothing is sparkly enough. They will add sparkles to a shirt themselves.

Micah stands on Granville street with their Pride hair, shorts, and high socks. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Micah says if there is an ideal future, it would be a world without judgment. 

However, underneath the optimistic spirit of the rainbows, sparkles, and purple hair, Micah is a realist. "There's always going to be judgment."

Micah says the ideal future is a world where every day is pride day and there is no judgement at all. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)
Samuel and Micah walk back to their car to go home for the evening. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)