For this post, All Inc!’s Michael, on behalf of the UK team, brings us this interview with a fifteen-year-old trans secondary school student — thank you Michael!
How old were you when you knew you were transgender? I had thoughts around Year 6 that I thought something was ‘off’. I was always alone. I couldn’t figure out what side I was on?
Did that affect how you dressed? Yes, half of that was my mum’s and my own ideas. My mum tried to get me to just wear women’s clothes before I explained to her that it didn’t feel right. An example of this was when we were in Asda and she kept picking up skirts so I said I don’t want to wear a skirt. She was actually fine with this so we went to the girl’s trouser section, which were all too tight. I tried to pick the baggiest trousers. They were not in my size and I was too tall. I ended up with bad fitting trousers. I had to wear these for two years.
How old were you when you first came out to someone? How was that experience? In Year 7 I was quiet but since coming out in Year 9 I’m a lot more confident. The first person I told was a friend. I sent this to them through emojis/gifs, to try and go over it quickly and not make it a big deal. I talked to another friend who helped me. He helped me with pronouns and names. I firstly told him to only use it when it was only us two, but then someone else found out and outed me in a lesson. I didn’t want to come out at this point, but it happened so I had to deal with it. When other students found out some were fine but I do remember being called me a “transformer” four times playing on the words transgender. Thankfully after many trials with different friendship groups, I am in a group with all types of people who are all accepting. It’s not about sexuality or gender, it’s mostly about games, we are just friends and it just so happens that some of us are part of the LGBTQ+ community.
What does it feel like day-to-day at school as a transgender student? It is like two different experiences. In Year 7 it didn’t really work very well but since I’ve come out I am now more social whereas before I felt alone. I felt bullied and it wasn’t great. Up until recently I had not been out with friends without my parents. I now have the confidence to go out by myself and my parents trust my friends to allow me to adventure and go wild. Coming out has helped me find friends I can trust and confidence within myself.
If there was one thing that you wished that staff/students knew about you, what would it be? It’s not specific to all the staff in this school, but it hurts when staff use the wrong pronouns or use ‘ladies’ or ‘boy’ for a class of 30 when there are trans students there who don’t identify that way. I’d like to ask staff and students to always respect the pronouns, if you get it wrong just apologise and try and get it right next time. Show me that you are trying to correct yourself. I feel like some people get this wrong too often and this hurts. I don’t want to react but I feel like I should. I really don’t want to have to be but in this position as I’m not confrontational and don’t want to challenge people but feel I have to.
Note: Year 6 refers to ages 10–11 and 11–12; Year 7 ages 11–12 and 12–13; and Year 9 ages 13–14 and 14–15.