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Natalie faces grief and depression as true self
October 3, 2022
Natalie Bracamontes
Grade: 12 School: Hillside High School District: Upland Unified School District ACSA region: 12 Natalie Bracamontes’ childhood was anything but easy. When she was a few months old, her mother was arrested for stealing baby clothes and sent to jail, leaving Natalie in the foster care system. Natalie was later adopted by her grandmother but was still able to spend time with her mother. Natalie also had a crisis of identity as she did not feel comfortable in a boy’s body. She transitioned in middle school but lacked support from her peers. In September 2019, Natalie’s world turned upside down when her mother was murdered. Natalie battled depression and multiple suicide attempts. But in time, she found peace with her mother’s death. And this past June, she fulfilled her goal of graduating from Hillside High School.
What was your reaction when you learned you won the ACSA Every Student Succeeding award? I was definitely shocked. It meant a lot to me because I feel like I’ve been through a lot of trials and tribulations. So, to be recognized and get that award definitely felt really good.
Can you explain some of the challenges you faced growing up and how you overcame them? I definitely had to get used to people walking out. There was a lot of craziness and chaos going on in my house. There were usually a lot of cops at my house. So, that was stressful.
You are transgender and made the transition in middle school. Can you describe what it’s like to not feel comfortable in your own body? It’s kind of like Halloween every day, but not fun. It’s like being in a costume that you don’t want to be in. It doesn’t feel right.
What is it like living as your true self? It’s really good. It feels a lot better. I’m more confident. I’m definitely happier than I was as a boy. I’ve made a lot more friends. And I feel more content with myself.
What impact did your mother have on your life and how have you coped with losing her? At a young age, I was taken away from my mom. But we were still really close. I was her carbon copy. I definitely saw her as more of a best friend than a mom. We had a good relationship and she taught me how to be a good person. It definitely was not easy when she died. I was looking for an escape. I tried to commit suicide twice which landed me in a mental hospital. It was not a pretty process and not my proudest moment. But I got better.
What would your advice be to people struggling with their identity? There’s a lot of challenges with it. But I still feel like it’s worth it to live your truth than to hide who you are.
2022 Region 12 ESS Natalie Bracamontes.
2022 Region 12 ESS Natalie Bracamontes.
2022 Region 12 ESS Natalie Bracamontes.