Cory Oskam still isn’t sure what to make of the idea that people look to him as a role model.
“I mean, I’m only 16 . . . As cool as that is, I think there’s definitely more I can do in the community to help others,” he says.
Key to that is following his personal motto: “Be yourself and change the world.” He stresses that his story isn’t unique; he’s just been given the opportunity to help educate others.
“There’s so many other people who could have probably taken my position in expressing transgender issues here in BC,” he says.
Earlier this year, the Vancouver high school student and hockey player met his hero, former Canucks goalie Cory Schneider, and was inadvertently outed to his teammates as transgender by an article posted on the Canucks website.
The teen was then thrust into the spotlight after his story caught the eye of local media.
Oskam is still adapting to the attention and hopes to make the most of it. He was a keynote speaker at this year’s International Day Against Homophobia Breakfast in Vancouver, and he wants to help facilitate more workshops about gender issues with the Vancouver School Board.
“So many people don’t understand what transgender is,” he says. As part of his workshop, he shows a documentary that was filmed when he was 12 and waits for students to react.
“They put one and one together and then they realize that ‘Oh my god, I’ve been talking to someone who’s transgender.’”
Oskam wants to use his experience and his voice to help make sports more accepting and open.
“I really want LGBTQ youth to play the sports they want to, in or out of school. I know so many people who are so scared to play sports because they think that no one will accept them for who they are,” he says.
He’s not sure what his future after high school holds, but he sees a need for more gender therapists, pointing to the long waiting lists for people who are gender-questioning. And, of course, he has no intention of unlacing his skates anytime soon.
“Hockey is my life.”