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

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Pride Prom 2017!

In November 2017, YC Hertfordshire held their first Pride Prom for young LGBTQ. Young People had said that when they attended their own proms they had not felt totally comfortable and couldn’t go with who they wanted to or how they wanted to dress and so members of the LGBTQ strategic group, Who not What, suggested we hold this event.

Ellen, WnW member – “The Prom was a lot of fun and the food was great. There was plenty to eat and realistic fake snow balls to have fun with. There was great artwork on display and one could go to the kitchen area to escape the music and obtain a decent variety of drinks. There were fun props for picture taking and cool lights that didn’t flash so much as to give me a headache (which sometimes happens). It was overall a successful evening where everyone seemed comfortable to be themselves“.

Anonymous member of local LGBTQ group – “It was really fun to meet and talk to new people. I felt very comfortable as I was surrounded by other people in the LGBTQ+ community, therefore I could be myself; I don’t really talk about my identity and the fact that I am bisexual elsewhere. It was also really fun when a massive circle formed and someone would go into the middle and dance. The food and drink were very good. It brought our communities closer”.

Emi, Member of local LGBTQ group – “Prom was really fun. It was amazing to see so many diverse young people: everyone was very social and it was great to just dance and have a laugh. Will definitely go again!”

Anonymous member of local LGBTQ group – “It was lots of fun and I made some new friends from different places that I could relate to. I would really like another event like it”

Astra, WnW member – “I think that the prom was brilliant, really enjoyable and a great opportunity to be social and able to be myself. I really enjoyed the prom, especially the false snowballs”.

For more information about the LGBTQ support groups for young people in Herts or to find out more about the strategic group, Who not What, please visit  http://www.youthconnexions-hertfordshire.org/youth-work/support-for-lgbtq-people/

 

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Unlike last year, the sun was shining…

Unlike last year, the sun was shining for us this year at Herts pride 🙂 It was an early start for all of us, helping to set up the WnW stall ready for the day. The morning also gave us a chance to look around and see the amazing variety of stalls. I never knew there were so many organisations dedicated to helping LGBTQ people in Herts! From Herts Aid, to Healthwatch and Hertfordshire police and of course YC Hertfordshire and Who not What 😉 As 11am hit, the people came flooding in. It was so cool to see so many groups of young people, wearing glitter and flags and representing their community. We spent the morning applying rainbow facepaints, chatting, advertising our support groups and recruiting new members for Who not What. We also met up with young people who attend our support groups throughout Hertfordshire which was really cool as we aren’t often all in one place at one time! One thing that really stood out to me from pride was the representation of the Trans community. I saw more Transgender flags around than any other flag. To me this was a pretty amazing thing. It’s not often that the Trans community is represented at pride, let alone as a majority! It allowed me to meet some really inspirational people and realize that I’m not alone as a trans person in Herts. Bearing a trans flag also brought up some interesting conversations and allowed me to educate people which was awesome. I spent the afternoon relaxing, listening to live music and chatting with friends, both old and new. Overall, Herts Pride was an amazing and humbling experience. I will definitely be back next year!

 

Asher, 18, WnW member

Herts Pride 2017

Herts Pride was a genuinely enjoyable experience with a good supply of dogs and pride. There were lots of stalls and I bought a small Quartz and rainbow hat which I wore throughout the event after attaining it. The music was good and there was a pleasant atmosphere. I was very happy that it didn’t rain like last year and I had a great time with my friends and hanging out near our stool where they offered face painting. I hope everyone else had a great time as well.

 

Ellen, 18, WnW member

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The Power of the right pronoun …

Before you go making assumptions, bear this in mind:

You don’t know what it’s like to live every single day feeling like you were born in the wrong body, to have to fight every day, even just to find the strength to get out of bed knowing that today is another day that you will spend trapped in a body that you loathe, in a body that you feel doesn’t and shouldn’t belong to you.

You don’t understand the battles faced every day just to be addressed with the correct pronoun; or how powerless it makes you feel, to know that you had no choice or control over the gender that was created when you were conceived, yet somehow people are still naive enough to think that being trans* is a choice?

In order for you to be able to live life, even just the slightest bit more as the gender that you really are, you spend your life correcting people and explaining yourself, just to try and be accepted that little bit more.

Every day that you can’t be the real you and live your life as the person that you are inside, is another day of hell, another night where you dread waking up the next morning and having to face it all again.

Avoiding mirrors constantly is proving even harder than it was to begin with and you don’t feel like you fit in anywhere, it’s hard to focus on anything when your whole mind and body are totally consumed by knowing that this isn’t you.

Making friends, falling in love, creating memories, it all feels like a lie when you can’t be who you really are, it feels like a betrayal, not only to your loved ones, but to you, your life feels like a facade.

You’ve lost count of the number of times you’ve had to explain that your actual gender and birth gender don’t match and to feel like you constantly have to take measures to hide any trace that you were born as someone you despise, someone you hate more than anything in the world, because in the moment when you are mis-gendered you feel a complete disassociation with that pronoun, with everything that that one word encompasses.

Every time you go on holiday or apply for jobs you see your birth certificate saying the opposing gender and it kills you inside, wondering why you, why does nobody understand?

With every waking moment you feel that you have to prove every single day that you’re strong enough to fight this, and when the dreaded day comes when you decide you are ready to come out, having to explain to your parents that you’re not their little girl or little boy, and to have to deal with their reactions, their emotions, on top of your own, is like the pressure building in a volcano until the lava begins to trickle out, to try and save an eruption in your mind.

You feel you have to have to explain and justify who you are in every breath that you take, with every movement you make; and you dread each day because with each new person that you meet, you find yourself once again coming out.

One little thing like calling someone by their chose pronoun can make their life so much easier.

Samaya, 22, Herts                                                                               Powered by Youth Connexions

If you are reading this as a young trans* in Herts, or are questioning your gender identity, please come along to our get together that runs on the first Wednesday of every month.  You can find all the information here  http://www.mogolistings.org/Activity/Details/Gendered-Intelligence-Youth-Group-for-the-Young-Transgender-Community-Hertfordshire

 

 

 

The person in the mirror ….

I’m not like everyone else. When I look in the mirror I don’t see myself. I see a body, and it mirrors my movement. logically I know it’s me…but it’s not me. When I picture myself I don’t look or sound anything like that person. But everyone else sees that person in the mirror. It feels like I can’t escape that person.

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When I lie in bed trying to fall asleep I get a feeling of discomfort throughout my body. I am aware of how certain areas of my body feel and it makes me uncomfortable. I feel gross.

When I’m out, I feel the way my body rubs against my clothes. I feel a wave of anxiety every time I go to the ‘ladies’ bathroom or when the cashier refers to me as ‘young lady.’

When I’m at college I can’t help but cringe every time a classmate greets me with ‘hey, girl’. Every time I hear my name in the register, every time I’m referred to as ‘she’ by tutors I feel a sudden sense of internal confusion. 

I am endlessly putting on a show. Every day, every conversation I have, every time I think I’m being watched. I’m constantly studying the situation, grasping for clues of what behavior is expected of me to try to fit in. I keep feeding society the ‘lesbian’ they want to see. I’m not doing it because I want to. I’m doing it to avoid that awkward silence. To avoid that mockery and humiliation. This has led to a deeply ingrained sense that I can never be myself around other people. And so my life is an endless and exhausting acting job. 

The problem is, the act never stops. There is a distance between me and everyone in my life. Friends, parents, siblings. No one knows the person behind the act. Not truly. If anyone gets too close they might see behind the curtain…they might see the inner me, the cause of awkward silences, stares and mockery. So no matter how many relationships I have, they are not with me but with the character I play, the person in the mirror. This leaves me intensely lonely. 

I don’t hide in the closet because I want to, no one does. I hide because I’m so scared of being found out. I’m hiding the whole sense of who I am- my real personality, opinions and thoughts. Hiding that makes me hate that person even more. It makes me feel like my true self is terrible and unworthy.

Anon, 17, Herts                                                                             Youth Connexions Hertfordshire

 

Rainbows and music, stickers and face paints …

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Hertfordshire Pride wasn’t too long ago, and I still can’t get the rainbows, music and amazing stalls out of my head! This blog post is dedicated to those who didn’t go.

Walking into the tent of stalls was incredible.  Left and right were people working busily at their charity stall, setting up posters, hand outs and stickers. I didn’t know there was so many LGBT+ dedicated charities. I was helping at the Youth Connexions stall and we had so many stickers, badges etc. I brought my own face paints- why not! 

10am struck and people began piling through the door. It was so wonderful to be able to see such diversity! It was so easy to talk to everyone as we all had something in common. Anyway, it turns out bringing face paints was a good idea as everyone wanted it done! I spent most of my morning just applying rainbow face paint.

Later on I went outside to see the outside stalls. There was a large tent on the far side of the field full of people dancing and a stage for singers. There was also some carnival rides to the other corner of the field playing loud music too. Scattered around were little desks with people behind them, advertising stuff like Healthwatch Hertfordshire (by the way, I won a free portable phone charger from them somehow) and stalls selling shirts and food.

Near the end of the afternoon it started to rain so everyone ended up packing up even though we were planning to stay until 10pm. It was a really lovely day and I recommend going next year to anyone!

Emi, 14, Who not What member