Categories
Youths

Dan’s* Story

* Disclaimer: the name of the story teller has been changed in order to maintain the individual’s confidentiallity

We’re back with another story time. We love hearing your stories and we know it can be inspiring to those that are wishing to come out, or even those that aren’t trans and just need to hear stories in order to understand. Here is Dan’s* story…

When did you realise you were trans and what was this journey like for you?
I realised something was ‘off’ about my feelings towards my body and gender expression at around 8 (though I obviously didn’t have the vocabulary to describe it at that age). I remember being given a book about puberty/gender/sexuality at some point, probably at about 10, and I had a bit of an ‘a-ha’ moment when reading a very basic explanation of transgender people in it. I didn’t seek to do anything with that information for a while – obviously I was very young, and it seemed I’d found myself in this situation and there was nothing I could do about it, but at least  I knew what was ‘wrong’ now. 

What were the first steps you took to come out?

I came out at 12 to my mother, and our first step was going to the GP. She basically did the research and told the GP what they needed to do (that being organise an appointment with a specialist), and then I got a referral to Tavistock in London. I almost think being that young was beneficial to me in this regard – I was very lonely, but I wasn’t expected to know what steps to take. My mum was great in this regard; I know there wasn’t much information on transgender people, especially children, at the time and honestly if she hadn’t taken the initiative I think the GP would have had no clue how to handle me.

In terms of just feeling slightly more normal, seeing more trans people in media/generally in life is helpful. It’s a nice reminder! People like you exist, and they can be happy.

How was the process of telling your loved ones?

I’d tried to come out to my mum before ‘successfully’ coming out by leaving a letter on her bed and disappearing to my room. I’d been dismissed by her these previous times, but I think that was probably an issue of not knowing how to express how I felt and no parent really expecting to have to deal with a transgender child. I’m not sure she even knew it was a possibility at the time. She and my step-dad were very supportive after that. She told the rest of our family eventually (those closer to us first), and I’ve been lucky in that most are respectful, and we’re not particularly close to those that aren’t.

That being said, being trans at the moment for me means I’m constantly in a state of having to tell new loved ones. I recently decided to come out at university because of a break-up, and the fact that I’d rather be upfront on e.g. Tinder than have to have that discussion with every individual that shows interest/after weeks of talking only to have it be an issue. I knew my friends would come across my profile, and that I’d just have issues with dating that it’d be nice to talk about completely openly. Again, they’re all supportive (I wouldn’t have been friends with them for a year if there was a possibility they wouldn’t be), but feeling like you have to tell people, and telling people generally, always sucks. 

How has your transition affected you? Has there even been a big event in your life that’s happened as a result of you being trans?

I’m much happier. That’s the biggest change. I can’t claim I’m the most emotionally secure person I know, but each step in my physical transition (T at 16, top surgery at 18) has made me a generally happier person.

I can’t really think of a big (positive) event that’s happened as a result of my being trans. I’d have a lot of bad experiences, which I know is common to every gender non-conforming person.; luckily, there’s been nothing so huge that it’s completely changed my life.

What do you think the current state of support in uni and schools is for transgender people?

My school was decent (certainly not great), because my mum wasn’t afraid to stand up for me. I’ve heard that a trans child that has more recently been at the school has been treated awfully, and I think it’s clear how little regard there actually is for the wellbeing of trans children especially. Once no one was going to call them out on their poor behaviour, they stopped pretending to care.

There’s a Trans Association at my university, but I’ve never been to any meetings. I know people who have, and who work on its exec, and I get the idea that it’s generally a great resource and community – which is a good thing, because it’s the only resource.

My university health centre is not fantastic, similarly to my experience with GPs as a child; it certainly seems to stem from a lack of specialist knowledge. They’re too nervous to do anything with hormones without consulting my endocrinologist, which has resulted in me not having testosterone for a short while and my periods starting up again. This was very difficult for me to deal with when it started, but it’s been a year now and I’ve learnt I just have to adjust because they’re not going to do anything about it anytime soon. There’s definitely a lack of regard for the mental wellbeing of the individual patient, and maintaining consistency in my transition. 

What are your methods of coping when you feel down?

I can’t say I’m very good at coping methods. A lot of my mental health issues are (at least somewhat) separate from being trans, and mostly I take naps, if I can, to clear my head; going home for a change of scenery and remove myself from a difficult headspace has been the most effective method, but less convenient.

When struggling with dysphoria, I’ve found that actually having trans friends to talk to is the only thing that helps. I know my cis friends would listen, but being able to vent to someone who understands is irreplacable. I think a sense of community, even if it’s just knowing one or two other people, is perhaps the most important thing to remind you that you’re not alone in struggling with this.

What would your advice be to a person who is coming to terms with the fact that they are transgender and aren’t sure what to do?

The NHS waiting list is long – it’s really long. Try and get on it to talk to a specialist (I HATED it but ultimately it did help me understand that I am trans, and that that’s an OK thing to be, and what my options were now I knew this). In the meantime, you are allowed to experiment with gender expression, clothing, names, whatever. This stuff is malleable, and not as rigid or precious as people seem to think it is. Obviously this is easier for some than others depending on your environment, so stay safe above all else.

Talk to other people who are trans/non-binary/gender non-conforming to any extent. Understanding the experiences and emotions of others can put your own in perspective, and also creates that community I mentioned earlier. They can also give you more specific advice if they’ve been in your place before, or you can figure it out together if you’re in similar situations.

Categories
Adults Youths

Taylor’s Story

To continue looking at real stories from members of the transgender community in order to support you and help with the struggles you might be going through, we spoke to Taylor, who is non-binary/trans-masculine! Here is Taylor’s story…

My name is Taylor. I’m 25 years old and non-binary/trans-masculine. My pronouns are he/they. My story has been a slow but beautiful unfolding. From where I am now looking back, I can see a lot of signs from my childhood that indicate to me now that I was a little trans baby in a cis, heteronormative world. Growing up, I didn’t have the language or exposure to others like me, so it got suppressed for a long time trying to meet gender norms and societal expectations. I grew up pretty sheltered and went to a Christian private school, and played on a sports team that kept me from interacting with many people who weren’t cis and straight.

I started to break out of this in my senior year of high school when I first came out as a lesbian. Then, in college, I stopped trying to fit a feminized expectation that familial/cultural expectations had placed on me and allowed myself to be more masculine, which felt closer to home for me. Around this time, I decided to leave the sport I had been playing since childhood. This opened a path to redefining my identity in many different ways. During my time in college, I took a Gender Studies class and met a trans guy, and then everything clicked. I had finally met somebody and learned the language that expressed how I felt inside. I sat with this for a few years and during that time I socially changed my pronouns to they/them.

Left: Taylor now, after Testosterone. Right: Taylor pre-hormone therapy.
Image: @Taylor__Pop

At 24, I realized that starting HRT would be the right thing for me in order to help alleviate dysphoria and bring me closer to my true self. I came out to my partner and close friends and I’m fortunate to have loving and supportive people around me. However, coming out can be very scary and unsafe at times. Although I am out to many people in my life, I am still figuring out how to come out to my mom. Coming out is an ongoing process and you have to do it over and over again. This is why trans visibility is important, for the trans people that grew up sheltered, the trans  people that feel alone or scared, and for society to accept that we exist and have always existed. Not only do we deserve love. We deserve rights, healthcare, and protection. Gender affirming healthcare and a society that accepts us can literally save lives.

Since starting HRT, I feel closer to home each day. I’ve realized dysphoria hasn’t gone away completely, but my mental health has improved so much with the changes that have happened and I know will come. I’m fortunate to have access to trans-specific healthcare and it has made the medical process fairly easy for me. But again, socially,  we have a long way to go. Even at my trans-specific health clinic, I was misgendered on my shot day by the person administering my shot!

To wrap up my thoughts, being trans is not just about going from point A to point B, it’s a way of being. I think it’s important to highlight that gender is fluid and can mean different things for each individual person. My gender is my own.

Categories
Youths

Stellan’s Story

We want to hear your stories. Transpire is not only an educational site, but a community in which trans people and allies and come together and support one another. This is Stellan’s story…

Telling My Story: I wrote a poem a year or two ago, called Exo Adaptation. Here it is:

“As the snail retreats into its hard shell,

And protects itself from life’s sharpest blows,

I so envy its exoskeleton. 

Mother Nature, hear me out now. Please.

I demand the armor you fashioned for 

the animals of this senseless Earth. 

Why engage in a world that hurts and hates?

Why not withdraw into a safety net,

Only soaking up sunlight when needed?”

I try to recall the headspace I was in when I wrote it, but I honestly can’t place it. While I was only daydreaming about buckling down into some sort of armor then, I’m now a deeply guarded person. If it takes a battle to build a soldier, I guess I’m a Captain, because I’ve been through a war. Religion made my parents the enemy. I did my best in coming out to them. I tried texting it lightly first (“I’m agender”). I tried a letter and knowing just what to say (“I’m transgender”). I even tried not taking any action and going about my business (I’m wearing a nonbinary flag today!). That’s the path I’m on to this day. I hate that it was my best course of action though, because of how isolating it’s been. My phone call with a Plume specialist, my trip to the pharmacy to pick up my first container of testosterone…. Not a single person in my Christian family was there to cheer me on. Why did I make my efforts? Well, I couldn’t force myself to suffer in silence- not when I spoke up from the start. It inwardly feels like I screamed my truth until my heart grew hoarse. I just wonder why they couldn’t listen.

Image: @spiralingcadet

I feel alone a lot of the time. Luckily, I built a support system from the ground up. Online support groups, as well as people like my partner, gender-affirming therapist, and creative mentor, saved me. 
 My parents have their suspicions, so I don’t have a phone right now. I get watched like a hawk, but my secrets are worth it. I’m worth it. That’s the most critical thing I learned. No one’s going to turn you into the person you want to be. Not some Fairy Godmother, and not Mother Nature. You have to decide to take the leap of transformation for yourself. Isn’t change worth all the life you’ve yet to live?

Categories
Adults Youths

Transparent Podcast: Jess King

In this episode we speak to Jess King. Jess is the long-time best friend to our founder, Jordan Burrows. This podcast explain’s the journey Jess went on after finding out her best friend was transgender. She also discusses how it actually brought the pair closer together, forming a friendship that has lasted close to a decade.

We hope that seeing the bond that this friendship duo have can help those of you who are worried to come out to your friends, and realise that your friends will be there and continue to support you.

Enjoy!

Categories
Adults Youths

Coming Out

Many people struggle with coming out. Due to the stigma surrounding the transgender community in society, often people wish to keep it private as long as they can. We have some tips on how to come out to your loved ones, and what to do if they don’t accept you.

  1. Plan: planning how you are going to explain this to your family and friends will be easier than springing it on them. Try writing down key points on your phone, or imagine you are sending a text but don’t actually send it. Plan everything you are going to say and exactly how you will explain that you are trans, and then ensure that they are actively listening when you tell them

2. Set the environment: It is very important that when you tell your loved ones information like this, that you are in a calm environment. You want it to come as naturally as possible. For parents, it can come as a shock, so ensure the environment is right and that they are listening. Make sure that they are sat down and not busy doing housework or anything else. Ask them to sit down and tell them that there is something you wish to tell them whilst in a calm environment.

3. Allow communication: When telling someone news like this, a lot of questions may be asked. Your parents will want to fully understand. Make sure you plan ahead and be prepared to answer questions so you can gain their full support and guidance. If you aren’t prepared for the questions they may ask, you may feel bombarded, so ensure you think of anything they might want to ask so that they understand the full story.

4. Do research: When first coming out, you may feel a little lost. Some people are aware they want to transition, but don’t have the information on who to speak to or what steps to take first in order to start your journey. Make sure you do your research. Start by speaking to your GP. They will give appropriate advice based on your case. We also have articles on Hormone Replacement Therapy, so have a look at articles like this to get more information on the journey you’re about to embark on.

Categories
Adults Parents Youths

Hormone Replacement Therapy: The Basics

Disclaimer: The information found throughout this document has been provided by the NHS. If you wish to find more information on Hormone Replacement Therapy, please visit the NHS website.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (or HRT) is the process of a transgender person starting to take the appropriate hormones to start the physical process of becoming their desired gender. Here is your basic guide to what you should know before starting HRT

What are hormones?

Hormones are naturally produced in the body from glands. These hormones are released into the bloodstream so that they can be carried around the body. Amongst many others, the body produced sex hormones: Testosterone produced by the testes and Oestrogen by the ovaries. 

What effects do naturally produced hormones have?

Overall, Testosterone produces masculinising effects and Oestrogen produces feminizing. In-hand with genetic factors, sex hormones impact your reproductive system, your brain, and physical characteristics like height and build. 

Then, during puberty, more changes occur as a result of sex hormones. For instance, in women breast development and periods will occur and in men, facial and body hair will begin to grow, along with height, muscle bulk and penis growth. 

What do trans people aim to achieve with HRT?

The overall aim of HRT in transgender people is to allow the body to produce the hormone linked to your desired gender. This causes physical and psychological changes so that you can appear and feel as the gender you wish to be. 

For trans people, starting HRT and seeing and feeling the physical changes in your body to become who you really wish, it is a huge deal. Starting HRT is a start to your transition and begins the process of changing your body to look and feel more feminine or masculine. Blockers may be needed in cases where the hormones in which your body naturally produce must be blocked in order for HRT to work.

HRT is often the first stage for transgender people, following surgery if wanted or needed. 

What physical effects does HRT have on transgender people?

Trans Women:

  • Fat may be distributed to the hips
  • Slight reduction in the size of penis/testicles
  • Erections and orgasms may be harder to achieve
  • Muscle bulk and power might be reduced
  • Breasts may feel tender and lumpy and may increase in size
  • Facial and body hair production becomes weaker. This can be helpful in the hair removal process

Trans Men:

  • Promotion of facial and body hair growth
  • Male pattern baldness may occur
  • Clitoris increases slightly in size
  • Sex drive may be heightened
  • Increased muscle bulk
  • Deepening of the voice, but may not be to the pitch of other men
  • Periods will stop occurring
  • Acne may develop

Once start HRT, you will have to stay on the medication in order for your body to keep producing the new hormone.

There are no large risks to taking hormones, and they are considered ‘remarkably safe’ according to the NHS. 

The most serious risks when taking Oestrogen are:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Stroke
  • Pulmonary embolism (block in a blood vessel in the lungs)
  • Altered liver function

The most serious risks when taking Testosterone are:

  • Polycythemia (over-production of red blood cells)

Although these risks are extremely rare, if you start seeing signs of the above, or have side effects following the start of HRT, make sure you inform you GP immediately. 

Categories
Adults Parents Teachers Youths

Mental Health Helplines

Mental health is something that is no surprise within the transgender community. Whether it’s the fear of telling your family, you’re being bullied, or you’ve faced harassment (physically or sexually), mental health issues are prevalent within the trans community.

It’s always good to have someone to talk to. This doesn’t have to be someone you know. There are trained professionals on helplines and online 24/7 to ensure that your mental health and well-being is paramount.

Here are our recommended mental health helplines:

Mermaids

mermaidsuk.org.uk

0808 801 0400

Samaritans

Samaritans.org

or call 116 123

Childline

Childline.org.uk

or call 0800 1111

Supportline

Supportline.org.uk

or call: 01708765200

YoungMinds

youngminds.org.uk

or call 0808 802 5544

Students against depression

studentsagainstdepression.org

The calm zone

thecalmzone.net

Bullying.co.uk

It is okay to accept help and speak to someone about your feelings and struggles. Unfortunately, being transgender can be difficult. Speak to someone and make sure you get support if needed.

Feel free to message us via our social links on the ‘contact us’ page!

Categories
Adults Parents Teachers Youths

Mental Health Advice

Mental health is a topic that is prevalent within the transgender community. There are multiple factors that impact mental health for trans people. Whether it be due to bullying, deadnaming, people using incorrect pronouns or most commonly, gender dysphoria overall, a mass proportion of the trans community suffers with mental health in a major way.

Stonewall claims that 27% of trans young people have attempted to commit suicide, with 89% having considered it at some point in their life. 72% have also self harmed at least once. Although these figures don’t state the reason behind these cases, there is always something you can do to help your trans allies and support someone in the trans community who may be struggling mentally.

What can you do?

Lend your ear. Sometimes, not only for transgender people but for anyone suffering with depression or other mental health issues, having someone there to speak to can help massively. Just knowing that whoever is struggling is able to open up to someone and not have any judgement is an amazing feeling and can make a huge difference. Make sure you offer your support and allow that person to explain how they feel and try and give them the advice you think is best.

Provide the person with information on mental health. Transpire has mental health helpline recommendations, along with information on mental health and a mental health journal. This allows you to write down how you are feeling if you don’t wish to talk to anyone yet. Some people who haven’t come out as trans may not feel safe enough to talk to someone, so being able to write down your feelings can help. 

If you are a parent or teacher, use these resources. If not, do your own research as to help you can receive for your child or student. Ensure that you have done your research so that if your child does come to you feeling a certain way about their mental health or transition in general, you can give them sound advice and ensure that they get help if needed.

If you yourself are a trans youth or adult, make sure you open up and ask for help. 

Don’t be ashamed to receive help if you need it. Speaking to someone and getting help in any form sooner rather than later can make all the difference. Often, people with mental health issues are afraid to talk to people or receive help as there is still sadly a stigma attached to mental health. Make sure you trust who is in your life and who is around you and ask them to listen and try to understand you. It is vital that you speak to someone and do not suffer in silence. 

Do your research on transitioning. 

It can all be very confusing at the start of your transition. At the beginning, you might not know the first steps to take, who to tell, and how to go about things. First of all, tell your loved ones and make sure you are very transparent with them. It can be hard for parents, friends and family members to understand if they are new to this subject. Make sure you explain exactly how you feel. Sit down and be an open book. Reveal your preferred pronouns so that they know how to address you and so they don’t get it wrong. Then, when you are ready, speak to your GP! They will give you advice and guidance on the next steps based on your case and what you have told them!

Transpire is always here to listen! Give us a follow on:

Instagram: @transpirezine

Twitter: @transpireweb

Facebook: Transpire

If you need to speak to us just give us a message and we will reply as soon as we can!

Categories
Youths

Tell Tale…

We’ve selected some of our favourite books for transgender youth to help you escape your troubles and relax. Whether it’s about coming out, romance or self-love, we’ve got you covered…


If I Was Your Girl
by Meredith Russo


This story focuses on the love life of a transgender schoolgirl after she moves to a new town and falls in love with her school classmate. Perfect for trans youth’s who like the romance genre and would love a sense of escapism.

When the Moon Was Ours
By Anna Marie McLemore


This story follows the friendship of Miel and Sam. They always look out for each other, but Sam is often bullied for his skin colour and feminine features. This story shows a close friendship bond that we all need to see.


The Art of Being Normal
By Lisa Williamson


David is a boy who is bullied at school. His parents think he’s gay. However, only his best friend knows that he is trans! This is definitely a read for those who are struggling with coming out and need some relatability.

What’s The T?
By Juno Dawson


“Discover what it means to be a young transgender and/or non-binary person in the twenty-first century in this frank and funny guide for 14+ teens”. Perfect for those who need a laugh to pick them up.

Gracefully, Grayson
By Ami Polonsky


Gracefully, Grayson is  a story about a bold and bright 12-year-old who is immersed in dreams at home, but flies under the radar at school. He has been holding a secret, but for how long will it continue…Grayson is Trans!

Felix Ever After
By Kacen Callender


This story is about romance and identity and recognising the love you deserve. This story is about Felix, a transgender teen who is struggling with their identity and discovering who they are, all whilst falling in love…
Categories
Uncategorized Youths

It’s All About Ellie

Let’s face it, it’s still lockdown and there is nothing to do other than binge your favourite show on Netflix. We’ve all seen the same show about 5,000 times and we’re not going anywhere soon. Ellie Desautels is a rising, non-binary star who first came into the public eye when they starred as transgender boy Michael Hallowell in NBC series ‘Rise’ – first premiering in 2018. Since then, Ellie has been a rising star in the LGBT community as a trail blazer for non-binary talent. We wanted to get to know more about the star and what their experience as a gender fluid person has been. 

When did you first feel you were gender-queer?

My gender expression was always unconventional, even before I knew I was trans. However, I was 20 when I started questioning my gender identity, and it took me three years to fully give my gender a term; gender-queer and agenderflux. Everyones gender journey is different, and there’s no deadline for figuring it out – especially at the beginning of figuring it all out. It can certainly be quite confusing. 

What was the coming out experience like for you?

That’s kind of difficult to put into words because it took me three years to fully figure everything out. So, I didn’t really feel like I was coming out, more that I was letting everyone in on my journey. Telling my immediate family about my gender and pronouns luckily wasn’t that scary of an experience. 

My family are super accepting and understanding. I’d always been able to express myself however I wanted, so I knew I would be accepted. It’s kind of a blur, but I think what I did was tell my mom my gender and pronouns. Then eventually just did a post on Facebook to let everyone know. It was intimidating later on when I wanted to go strictly by they/them. It was intimidating to tell my mom. I don’t know why that is, because I knew she would support me. Ultimately, all the reactions from my friends, family, and the faculty at college were positive and I’m very lucky I had that.

Have you experienced any issues with being gender fluid from people in society?

I didn’t face any issues with people at school. I think at first it was difficult to remind everyone of my pronouns. I would get misgendered a lot, but mainly because at the time (2015-2016 ) they/them pronouns weren’t widely known the way they are today. I had to be my peers’ and my teachers’ educator on what it means to be non-binary, how to use they/them pronouns etc. Then again, this was college. I was an adult equipped to be that beacon of information for everyone. I wanted everyone to understand genders that are different from their own, so I felt a responsibility. Luckily, I am not met with many issues in my day-to-day life. Living in North-East USA there’s much more toleration for folks in the LGBT+ community. Also, I am white, which gives me massive amounts of privilege. Being a public figure and having a large social media platform, I have come across transphobic people. I simply educate where I feel like I can make an impact, and I ignore/block/report those that I can tell I won’t be able to influence. 

How do you think the older generation could be more involved in supporting trans youth?

Well, for one I think having more trans officials in government positions would help support the entire community, and especially help vulnerable trans youth who are facing all of these anti-trans bills. But, in general, it’s so important for the older generations of trans/non-binary people to take these issues seriously. Get involved in protests and sign petitions! More importantly, share information with the world, share information about these issues on social media. We need awareness for trans youth. They truly need protection, and the more awareness we have on these issues, the better we can protect them. 

Finally, what advice would you have for anyone who is struggling with gender identity issues?

My advice is that there is no deadline for figuring it out. It sounds so cheesy, but seriously, it is your own journey. It’s your path and every step you take to figure out what is right for you, you are doing with your future-self in mind, and that is self-love right there. Stop worrying about being an inconvinience to others. You inconvinience yourself by letting your gender journey be about everyone else. This is for you. Do it all for yourself. 

If you need help or someone to talk to in the US or Canada, Trans Lifeline is a fantastic resource. It is a hotline by trans people for trans people that offers direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis.

Images: @ohyouknowellie