Aiden Summers, 27

“I believe is the only way to make a positive impact is to listen to those who are having the hardest times.”

In their own words

Although I do not have one specific occupational title, I am heavily involved in many aspects of the arts and activism. I am a LGBTQIA activist, in the process of
starting a business and I work at different places around town doing sound engineering. I’ve also worked in special effects makeup artistry, and I am a visual artist and musician.

I have been working extremely hard for the past 10 years within the LGBTQIA community as an activist and organizer. I am transgender (FTM), and have done many discussion panels with doctors, therapists, and parents of trans youth to try to help educate others about transitioning. One of my greatest accomplishments in this matter happened when I was working at the IKEA in Merriam, KS. While working there I joined their insurance policy with hopes that it would cover my transgender medical expenses, knowing ahead of time that Cigna did offer plans that covered it. However after I looked into it, I had found out that IKEA had not chosen the plan that covered transgender surgeries.  I reached out to United States Country Human Resources Manager of IKEA with my life story with the hope that they would consider changing this in all of there stores. She soon contacted me and worked with me to bring that sort of plan to IKEA, allowing not only myself but all transgender IKEA employees to use these benefits. Thanks to this, in 2016 I was able to get my double mastectomy (commonly known in the trans community as top surgery).

KC story

I was born and raised in KC, and although I’ve always had a lingering feeling that I didn’t belong here, this phase where I wanted to run away from KC really opened my eyes that cities only get better if someone helps make them that way, which gave me a renewed passion to make KC a place that I want to live. As I have mentioned before, I am extremely connected to the LGBTQIA community, but especially projects that are youth oriented. I feel like I never had much guidance in my younger years within the queer community, and it felt so impossible to find a safe place. So, I try to do my best, with the help of many other wonderful individuals to make things better for our youth. I am also heavily involved with the theatre and performance arts community.  As a teenager I attended Paseo Academy of the Fine and Performing Arts where I learned stage tech. For 10 years I worked as a Makeup Artist for the Worlds of Fun Halloween Haunt. I worked for many different stage design and theater tech companies around KC and now do volunteer work for Just Off Broadway Theatre, doing everything from stage set-up to lights and sound. Thanks to having my hands in all of these different areas, I have gained a large set of very talented friends, from dancers, musicians,  hair stylists, makeup artists, actors, cinematographers and more.

 

A day in the life

From morning to night I’m usually very busy, but my daily plan changes extensively every day. I do a lot of volunteer work over at Just Off Broadway Theatre, and when i’m not there my fiancee and I are working on a clothing line which sends a positive message of acceptance or working with my best friend and business partner alike on our company L.Y.L.A.H. (Love You Like A Human). I also attend a lot of meetings for the LGBTQIA community, usually on projects that are queer youth-oriented. In my down time however I am a total nerd. I play Dungeons and Dragons with a group of friends, binge on netflix and videogames, listen extensively to music both new and old, and play my guitar. Also I am guilty of being a total softy when it comes to pets. My partner and I have two dogs and a cat, and have been bottle-feeding a litter of kittens.  

 

Legacy

I would like to be known for having a kind heart. I believe is the only way to make a positive impact is to listen to those who are having the hardest times. I hope that one day I open myself up completely because I would like my peers to know they can come to me with anything, and that I am there 100 percent because that’s what being part of a community/city is all about. Growing up Afro Latinx  and transgender I have experienced some truly awful things, and would like to be able to transform those horrible memories in education for others so that they do not have to experience them as I did.

 

Whoa

I struggle really hard with self love, dysphoria, and suicide, even though I preach to others about self acceptance.  My love for helping people actually directly stems from the struggle of helping myself. I have seen what that kind of monster I can create and if I can keep anyone from feeling the way I have about myself, then I will feel like I have achieved so much more than I ever expected.

 

Protip

Never stop following your dreams. The first love of your life should be the passion you have in everything you do.  Go out and be afraid and nervous, but don’t ever stay inside of a box someone puts you in because there is no one in this world that can stop you but yourself.