6 years ago my fragile, broken and lost self at the age of 15 decided to come out publicly as transgender. I didn’t realise I was transgender overnight – it took me months to understand it, to come to terms with it and it took me months to be honest with myself.
I was a fragile teenager overall, I was depressed, I was self harming on a daily basis, I threatened to kill myself and I did attempt suicide. When I turned 12 I started to develop breast’s and it was the most heartbreaking thing that I had to go through.
When I was in secondary school I was seeing a school counsellor as I was a very angry teenager and the school thought I’d need some counselling to help with my feelings. I went into one of my counselling sessions one day and explained everything to the counsellor, I told her that I didn’t feel female, that I was a boy trapped inside my body and the fact that I hated myself for feeling that way. And to my surprise she turned around and asked me if I understood the meaning of transgender and she explained the meaning of it to me and then, that’s when a lightbulb clicked in my head and I knew that was exactly how I felt. I went home that night and googled the meaning and in 2013 there wasn’t many role models or information out so I struggled – but I knew that, that was who I was and I had to be honest to myself and those around me.
As a child I was pretty much a boy with long hair and a fringe. I was always outside playing in bushes, I’d roll in the mud and I was in love with sports. I remember a few instances where I’d say out loud that I was a boy but nobody ever believed me or they’d push it under the carpet. I still believe that I was one of the reasons why McDonald’s banned the girls and boys toys because I caused havoc every time we went in there.
What happened when I came out?
I was 15 years old, I was in secondary school and I was in the middle of my first year in my GCSE’s and if I said it was all perfect – I’d be lying badly.
Secondary school was tough for me as I was bullied for everything. I was bullied because I was fat, I was bullied because I was “butch”, I was bullied because I was half and I was bullied because I was different. When I came out I told a few close friends and then it somehow spread around the school like wildfire and everybody knew and I was bullied insanely.
I’m 2013 being transgender was such a taboo subject – none of the students understood the meaning and hardly any of the staff understood it so I spent most of my days trying to educate everybody – whilst being tormented about it. Some staff members would disregard the fact that I was transgender and would refuse to use male pronouns & my name Alex and they would make it very obvious that they didn’t agree with who I was. There were some staff members who were amazing – and to this day I can’t thank them enough for being there for me and supporting me and standing by my side and fighting my corner when I needed it the most!
One of my biggest regrets when I came out was not telling my family. I came out to everybody in February but I couldn’t bare to tell my family. I have this deep fear of rejection and being disowned and I was petrified incase my family would walk out on me or they wouldn’t accept me. I remember at the beginning of September 2013 I had finished school and went out to my local youth centre with my friends, I’d ordered my first ever binder and I was so happy. Once I got home my mum sat me down and confronted me and asked me about it all and I told her the truth. I’m not sure on how she found out, or how she figured it all out but it’s one of my biggest regrets.
How has my life changed since coming out?
Life for me has changed in many ways. Here are some of the things that have changed for me;
- I have become such a happier person – I used to be very angry and since coming out I’ve mellowed down so much.
- I’m more comfortable within my skin – everyday I’m learning to love myself and I’m slowly leaning to accept myself and my body and my life.
- I feel like my true self – I’m being my true self for the first time in 21 years.
- I’m no longer hurting myself – self harm can various in different ways and for many years I was hurting myself in different ways as it was my way with coping with life. I’m no longer hurting myself and that’s one of my proudest achievements in my life.
- My mental health has improved – when you’ve suffered from a mental health issue it doesn’t leave you, it’s constantly with you but some days are better than others. Since coming out my mental health has improved so much. I managed to leave therapy at 17 and I haven’t needed any sort of therapy since. I haven’t tried to end my life in years so coming out has allowed my mental health to improve dramatically.
- I’m alive – the most important thing is that I am alive, I am happy and I am comfortable.
When I came out I was running a mental health awareness account on Twitter, I had thousands of followers who felt just like me and I made so many friends through it. When I came out I realised there was any information, or individuals who were campaigning for the rights of young lgbt+ people in Wales, or the UK so I decided to start campaigning for the rights of young transgender people.
I have worked alongside some amazing charities such as fixers UK, I was awarded an Iwill ambassador and Diana award, I have spoken to key policy makers in the Senydd in Cardiff and in West Minister. I have been to Buckingham palace and 10 Downing Street and I’ve done so many other amazing things.
For me being a transgender teenager when there was no education or information out there and facing discrimination from most people around me and I felt as if change needed to happen to help those younger than me.
“You can’t expect change to happen if you sit down and wait. You have to stand up and be a part of the change to make it happen”
What would I say to my younger self?
When I first came out I thought everything would be all Daisy’s and rainbows, when in fact it wouldn’t. It was far from it.
- I thought my physical transition would happen overnight – I thought as soon as I turned 16 I would start hormones and I thought I would’ve had top surgery when I turned 18. I had my hopes high and I thought it would all happen straight away when I never did. I ended up starting testosterone at 19 years old and I had top surgery at 21. The NHS waiting times for transgender people are extremely long due to a tiny service suddenly being bombarded by thousands of people when they don’t have enough funding or specialists to cope with the demand. I decided to go privately for treatment when I was 18 and I don’t regret it at all. I’m fortunate enough that I’m extremely good at budgeting and saving my money and I have some brilliant people surrounding me so it has allowed me to do it!
- I thought everybody would accept me straight away – little did I know that I’d lose friends over the fact that I’m trans, people hated me because I was trans and most people wanted me dead and that broke me a little. On some days it felt like I wasn’t worthy of being alive because I’m different.
- I thought I was ready for any situation that came my way – my wise 15 year old self thought he was ready for everything when I really wasn’t. I wasn’t ready to be sat in an office by my head of course telling me that I was lying about being transgender. I was prepared for the death threats I received online from those who don’t know me. I wasn’t prepared for being assaulted because I am transgender and I wasn’t prepared for anything at all.
These last 6 years have been the most amazing and happiest 6 years of my life and I can’t wait for the next 50 years of my life! I’m finally feeling at home within my body and I’m finally learning to love myself!