of people who don’t comment as often as trolls, but when they do, they make your head turn. [Unedited]: “I wish you the best of luck & I want to let you know that I think you’re so brave for being true to yourself in a town that makes that very hard for anyone who exists outside the comfort zone of the more closed-minded among us. keep being you!” “Nikki, congrats to you and good luck on your journey, our household wishes you the best. Also, don’t worry about the negative crap you see from people. There is always something worse happening or more important happening in the world, but those don’t erase or negate everyone else’s issues. If their not interested in helping or sharing a good word, then they should keep scrolling, if they seek you out and decide to spew filth, it only speaks true to their character.” “I dont personally know you, but I want to tell you I’m proud of you for being your true self and wish you the best. As long as you are happy with yourself and being the real you, that’s all that matters!! No one needs to live their life not being who they truly are. Just remember you have to ignore all the negativity you will receive, noones opinion matters but your own!!” There are lots of ‘likes’ on the supportive comments. It’s these that Nikki takes comfort in. “I am so happy that people support me,” she tells me. “I didn’t really expect I would get that much, but I’m happy there are people out there who care.” She says she’s looked into the genderreassignment surgery with a specific doctor in mind — Dr. Christine McGinn of the Gender Wellness Center in Pennsylvania. “I have a consultation on March 4, 2019 with her,” she writes. “My mom is going with me and I am super excited.” “What happens if you don’t raise the money?” I ask her. In her unfaltering, upbeat demeanor, she tells me she’ll: “Just keep on saving up and one day, I’ll have it done!” If there be a true test of character, it’s being able to weather the storm that certain small minds in certain small towns can render. In passing that test, something tells me that one day, Nikki Hammond’s future will pan out exactly as she sees it in her mind. At the time of printing, only $70 has been raised toward her overall goal of $25,000. To support Nikki in her transition, go to GoFundMe.com/zz6h6d-genderreassignment-surgery.