Alumni Spotlight: In Pride Month, Nick Talks Self-Discovery and Advocacy  

Covenant House Alumni Nick | CH Pride month

Seeds of Self-Discovery 

Nick is an alum of Covenant House New Jersey. His story is one of resilience, discovery, and advocacy within the LGBTQ+ community. From a young age, Nick was exposed to diverse sexual orientations and identities. Both his mother and sister had had same-sex relationships, and this early exposure planted the seeds of Nick's journey toward understanding his own sexuality and gender identity.   

Nick first came out during his early high school years. His announcement was met with a neutral, if not indifferent, reaction from his mother. This response led Nick to further question his sexuality and gender identity, a journey complicated by his battles with depression and anxiety.  

High school was a period of intense self-exploration for Nick, filled with the pressure of academic responsibilities and the pursuit of understanding his true self. He found solace and insight through friends, girlfriends, and various online resources, despite the pervasive negative perceptions and stigma.   

Living in an abusive home environment compounded Nick's struggles. Safety was a constant concern, forcing him to keep his true self hidden. The support from his school and, later, therapists was crucial, he says.  

Diagnosed with depression, Nick underwent various treatments and medications. As graduation approached, his therapist encouraged him to consider college and independence. The subsequent transition to college was short-lived as Nick, unprepared mentally, dropped out after just two weeks.  

Coming Out: Transition and Transformation  

But it was the same supportive therapist who encouraged Nick to come out to his mother as transgender, recognizing the strong feelings of dysphoria and suicidal ideation he was experiencing.  

“Coming out as transgender in 2016, in the politically charged atmosphere of the presidential election, was a turning point,” said Nick.   

 Unlike his earlier revelation of being gay, which was met with mild concern, Nick's transgender identity was outright rejected. His mother accused his therapist of brainwashing him, leading to the dismissal of both the therapist and Nick's caseworker.  

“It was only after I went to an official gender therapist upon recommendation from my psychiatrist, and telling my mom, ‘Yeah, no this is probably a thing,’ and getting the official diagnosis of gender dysphoria, did she then let me see a doctor about health care. This was all during age 17. I waited six to seven months after that to start hormones, as you have to be 18 to start in New Jersey.” 

Once he turned 18, Nick's life took a more positive turn. His mother began to educate herself about transgender issues, thanks to knowledgeable health care providers. Nick was finally able to explore his identity with a gender therapist and began hormone therapy. This period marked a significant transformation, both physically and emotionally, as his mother slowly came to accept and support his transition.    

Receiving Unconditional Love and Absolute Respect at Covenant House 

Today, Nick says that Covenant House provided him with invaluable support that is deserving to every single youth who walks through their doors — “a therapist to ensure my mental healing; gender-affirming medical care, and a nurturing, supportive environment for me to live Living there taught me that regardless of who I am or what I've been through, my life is valuable, just like the lives of every other young person at Covenant House,” said Nick. 


Now 24 years old, Nick has been living as an openly transgender man for eight years. He proudly considers himself an "elder trans," using his experiences to guide and support others in the community. He lives independently with his wife, who is also transgender and whom he helped to come out. The newlyweds tied the knot on April 20, 2024. 

Professionally, Nick works full time as a data analyst at Johnson & Johnson, a challenge he also took on while pursuing a degree part time. He was set to graduate in March 2024, but his school unexpectedly shut down. So instead, he’s using his credits to pursue a bachelor's degree in data analytics.   

His role as an advocate within the Open & Out employee resource group at J&J allows him to amplify the intersectionality of trans lives, particularly focusing on the challenges of Black trans experiences.    

Nick continues to pay close attention to conversations about health care inequities and the importance of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) questions in the health care industry.    

He says he admires J&J’s practices and efforts, citing, for example, that the company successfully advocated for gay men to donate blood, which finally changed last year. 

 “These questions are vital for addressing the disparities faced by trans people and making sure that providers offer inclusive and respectful care,” he said.   

Nick's advocacy also extends to his personal life, where he has experienced firsthand the inadequacies and biases of emergency services, underscoring the critical need for better training and awareness among first responders.  

Nick emphasizes the importance of listening to trans people and their stories, advocating for empathy and understanding. He believes that “the moment society stops listening is the moment it allows and tolerates the dehumanization of trans people.”  

For Nick, gender-affirming care is not a separate category but an integral part of health care. He stresses that people's identities should be respected, and that the mistreatment of any group ultimately affects everyone.  

Reflecting on constant losses within the trans community, Nick acknowledges the need for ongoing discussions and advocacy.  

“Two hundred fifty-one anti-trans bills are currently being considered for legislation in 2024, including those carried over from 2023,” said Nick.  

He urges people to grieve and amplify the voices of those lost, underscoring that “this fight for recognition and equality has been long overdue.”  

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