How I Made It

Charlie Lowthian-Rickert, Trans Activist

FLARE #HowIMadeIt celebrates 100+ talented, ambitious and driven Canadian women with cool jobs. Want what Charlie has? Here's how she did it

Charlie Lothian Rickert headshot

Charlie Lowthian-Rickert; Ottawa; @OttawaCharlie

Let’s say we just met—how would you describe your extracurricular activities in one minute or less?

I love dancing and singing, so I take dance class on Monday and Wednesday (hip hop and contemporary). I also take a gaming programming course called GirlForce and am a part of Girls Skate, a skateboarding club for girls.

Can you describe a typical day for us, detailing everything you do from when you first get up to when you head back to bed?

I get up at 6:00 a.m. and go into the kitchen to feed my four cats (WallE, Eva, Freya and Crumbles) and if there is any leftover pizza in the fridge, I eat it for breakfast. Then I get dressed, brush my teeth and hair, etc. Then I go to school, draw random things on my left hand in French class, and play Geometry Dash on my way home in the van. When I get home, I swim, skateboard, trampoline, build things with Lego, Minecraft or design and race cars on Forza. Then I set the table for supper, feed the cats (again), and after supper I go to dance/computer/gym class or I do homework.

What do you consider your biggest “win” in the past year?

Either being Grand Marshal of the Ottawa Pride Parade or the board meeting where I met Jody Wilson-Raybould, just before Bill C-16 was tabled. She is one of my role models, and my friend.

What’s your #1 goal for the next year?

My big goal, since we did the Occupotty protest in 2014, is to make sure all transgender and gender fluid people are protected by our laws in Canada. [Bill C-16, which “adds protection of gender identity and expression to the Canadian Human Rights Code” was passed in June 2017, following this interview.] And I want to improve respect and full rights for all PEOPLE including gender non-conforming people. That’s why my mom and I travel all over doing workshops about gender diversity. Maybe this year we can reach more people. I want to encourage kids to speak their truth, and parents to love them no matter how they identify or express themselves. Everyone deserves rights, i.e. LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE PERSON in Canada—even kids. (Sorry if I sound mad, I’m just trying to add a bit of emphasis!)

Do you ever just go home after school and binge on Netflix? If you do, what’s your current Netflix obsession—and why do you love it? (Here at FLARE HQ, we’re equally obsessed with Riverdale and 13 Reasons Why.)

I don’t normally binge-watch Netflix as I am kinda busy, but I do like Top Gear. I want to watch 13 Reasons Why, but I am afraid to. I know of a lot of transgender people are hurt by others and take their own lives, like Leelah Alcorn.

Have you ever been bullied at school? If so, how did you handle it?

Yes, when I was in kindergarten and in grade one at a different school. I did not handle it well at first because I didn’t understand why people were being mean. Even today, kids sometimes harass me about whether I am a boy or a girl, so I just keep saying, “Why does it matter to you?” But to be honest, I feel more bullied by adults who don’t understand, than other kids.

What is the #1 misconception you think adults have when it comes to teen girls?

That we are “weak” or “too sensitive” just because of our body parts. We’re still young, but that doesn’t mean we’re not as strong or as smart as the man right next to us. There is a 13-year-old girl who can bench press 240 lbs, and a preteen named Emily Bear who performed a song on piano for the White House at six years old! Even I surprise people with my knowledge of cars. We are capable of so much but somehow we are doubted.

Finally, based on your experience, what’s the #1 piece of advice you have for other teens who want to make a difference in the world?

Always push yourself. Just because you think you can’t take anymore doesn’t mean that’s true. If you want it to happen, then MAKE IT HAPPEN by putting yourself out there, and taking that potentially huge leap.

  • Click here for more work-life inspo from the awesome people on our #HowIMadeIt List