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Up, up and away

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Potty training, as all parents know, can be a tall task.

Convincing a child to own the throne takes a lot of persuasion, and the prospect of wearing big boy/big girl underwear often does the trick.

When Nicole Oskam took her two-year-old daughter Anneke shopping for big girl underwear 14 years ago, pink was out, as were unicorns and Strawberry Shortcake. Anneke wanted Superman underwear and wasn’t leaving the store without them.

Anneke, fantastic taste in superhero gitch and all, was a gender nonconforming child from a very young age, according to Nicole, who assumed her daughter was a tomboy.

Fast-forward from the beginning of Anneke’s journey to where she is today and, well, a lot has changed.

For starters, Anneke is now Cory, a 16-year-old male currently blissfully residing on cloud nine after sharing the ice at Rogers Arena with Vancouver Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider.

Yes, the most recent chapter to Cory’s story had him standing beside his hero, after whom he renamed himself upon making the transition to become male, as part of Minor Hockey Week when the Canucks hosted the Calgary Flames on January 23rd.

Cory, who began taking hormone blockers at age nine to suppress female puberty and the development of secondary sex characteristics, is a goaltender for Britannia Hockey Academy and a C1 team in Ridge Meadows, and for many of his teammates reading this, surprise!

While many of you think you know Cory, you now truly know Cory, who was Anneke, but was never truly happy as female. It’s been a long journey for Anneke/Cory, one filled with, astonishingly, more ups than downs thanks in large part to how understanding and accepting friends, family and Brittania Secondary School have been.

Taking hormone blockers essentially put the hold button on puberty giving Anneke time to decide what made her happy. After some soul searching, she began taking testosterone roughly a year-and-a-half ago to begin the transition to become male.

Cory hasn’t had any surgeries; he may consider that later on. For right now, he’s happy finally being comfortable in his own skin.

“I went into high school not who I am, but being in grade 10 now I feel very much like part of the high school,” said Cory. “I felt like an outsider, now I have a great support system and a great group of friends, which I’ve never had before. Life is great.”

As an advocate on issues of homophobia, transphobia, bullying, intersectional violence, and discrimination in schools, Cory is a role model in the community and speaks frequently at events. He was preparing to give a talk at the Dare to Stand Out Vancouver conference on January 21st when his mom dropped the bomb about skating with Schneider and the Canucks. He somehow made it through the presentation and didn’t keel over from anticipation before arriving at Rogers Arena.

The experience is all a blur for Cory now. He remembers the thrill of skating onto the ice, meeting Schneider and standing beside him for 'O Canada'. That’s about it. He won’t soon be forgetting the surprise of meeting Schneider post-game though; Cory, who was wearing an old pair of Schneider’s pads he purchased at a Canucks equipment sale, got them autographed and they’re now retired in his room.

What a night.

Oh and this all played out on Cory’s 16th birthday.

Sometimes things just fall into place. Like how Cory landed on the name Cory.

“I’m a really big card collector, I was collecting all kinds of cards and my mom said to pick my favourite and collect him – it was getting a bit out of control. Then I opened a pack of cards and pulled a really sick Cory Schneider card. It just clicked; I needed to start collecting him.

“Around the time I started collecting Schneider, it was time to pick a name. I went through a handful: Will, William, Matt, Matthew, none of them really felt right, then my mom suggested Cory and I started using it around the house. It felt very right. Cory felt very right.”

And now that Cory’s story has been told, he can comfortably soar up, up and away.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Cory.

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