(Advocate) For Gabrielle Diana Gladu, 16 is particularly sweet. Two years after a suicide attempt, she is thriving — a transgender teen who beat the odds.
Tall, blond, sharp-witted, and stylish, she lives in Ottawa, Canada, with her predominantly Catholic family, who immigrated a generation ago from Poland and France. Her family is not fabulously wealthy, but they work hard and organize their resources well to support her.
But Gladu is all too aware that increasing transgender visibility and fresh legal protections seem to go hand-in-hand with continuing discrimination in almost every sphere of trans people’s lives — be it travel, education, health care, or employment.
While many trans youth have turned to YouTube to find community, support, and a powerful vehicle to share their own stories, Gladu stands out among her peers. Boasting more than 2,800 subscribers at press time, Gladu’s channel takes on everything from the talk show host Wendy Williams’s transphobia to offering do-it-yourself beauty and style tips.
Tragically, sometimes all the help and support in the world cannot keep the anguish at bay for clinically depressed trans teens, who face a unique set of challenges that make them especially vulnerable to suicide.
But to kick off Transgender Awareness Month, good news was in order. That’s where Gladu comes in. Her story epitomizes the resilience trans youth — and adults — put on display every day they spend living their truth. The Advocate spoke with Gladu over the phone and in emails about her home life, her role models, her family, schooling, social media activism, and most important — her aspirations.