Being me.

I’m a 19-year-old guy from Hertfordshire who likes pizza, puppies and playing video games. I also happen to be trans and that is only a small part of my identity.

Growing up, I always felt a little different from everyone else, like I didn’t fit in but I certainly didn’t know I was trans. It seems the idea of ‘always knowing’ is prevalent in the trans community and, don’t get me wrong, I think kids knowing and feeling comfortable in their identities from a young age is amazing but it just isn’t the case for all of us and that’s ok. Every trans experience is different.

My first conscious questioning of gender was a few years ago when I was watching TV. I saw an androgynous person, who identified as a lesbian and I remember thinking to myself, “That seems like it would be so much better… no expectations, just being.” It planted a seed for me and so I came out as lesbian. But it still wasn’t quite right for me and in 2016, after reading up online I decided I needed to transition.

With every change- name, clothes, pronouns, hormones- I became happier and more confident in myself. The knots that had been in my stomach for as long as I could remember came undone; my social anxiety started to fade. I found an inner peace that I never knew was possible. Let’s just say, if it wasn’t for transition, I wouldn’t be up here right now.

While I can look back now and see clues that make sense (the characters in books and games that I identified with most were almost exclusively male) I never explicitly identified as a girl, I just didn’t know there was any alternative and I’ve found this to be a pretty common experience in the trans community. I think that’s why it’s so important to speak out and share experiences.

In terms of what you can do, it’s not that difficult to ask a person what pronoun they prefer but it can make a world of difference. The most important thing when meeting any trans person is to listen to them, and if you’re not sure about anything just ask. We’d much rather you ask than get it wrong in the first place. Besides, we’re not that scary!

Ash, 19, Herts