• Chichester Pride

Trans Awareness Week | Leo's Story

Name: Leo (19, Trans Gay Man, he/him)

I knew something was up from a very early age. I never quite fit into that 'girly girl' stereotype that most young girls did. Sure, I did enjoy some girly things. I thought princesses were cool and I liked playing dress up, but I always felt distant from my female friends, like something wasn’t quite right. As I got older, this continued.

Going into secondary school, I made friends pretty quick but our group was always the outcasts. None of us quite conformed to societies standards of normality and definitely not femininity, however, I never felt like I would fit in well with the boys either.

I attempted to push myself out of my comfort zone and force femininity upon myself. I thought my ambiguous identity was the reason for my social ineptness, so in my mind hyperfeminization was the only way to go. I was very wrong here and I slowly lost all sense of identity that I had at all.

To combat this, I began to experiment with my sexuality because CLEARLY, that was the issue here was it not? I thought maybe I might be a lesbian, but that label never felt right. Bisexual maybe? Something about that label resonated with me so I stuck with it for many years, but something still felt wrong.

I knew I liked guys but at the time, liking guys as a girl felt wrong and distant to me. I am both lucky and cursed to have grown up in a time where the internet was massively surging in popularity, so I delved deep to try to figure out, what on EARTH is wrong with me?

After some digging, I discovered the concepts of gender identity, transgender people and people not feeling connected to their assigned sex at birth. I immediately felt a sense of relief wash over me, I wasn’t alone, others felt this way. I rushed to tell my best friend about my discoveries, at this time I was still very naïve and the concept of rejection and bigotry was still very foreign to me.

So I told her ‘I think I want to be a boy’, or something along those lines, however, I did not expect to be met with the words ‘I’ll never see you as a boy’. To me, this was such a happy discovery and I thought they’d be happy for me as I was finally finding my sense of identity… but no. I was crushed, all this self-discovery felt like it was all for nothing and decided to repress these feelings for the next several years.

A while later, I decided I couldn’t keep pushing back these feelings anymore. With each passing month, no matter how much I tried to suppress it, I kept thinking about my gender identity and the idea of being perceived as female repulsed me more and more until I snapped. I broke down and told all my friends while preparing for the worst but to my greatest surprise, they were completely okay with it.

I was in utter shock but looking back at this almost 7 years later, I realize at that age a lot of maturing can happen in such a short space of time. Most of my friends at that point had started exploring their queer identity, so they had massively educated themselves on transgender people and their experiences and I finally felt accepted.

I came out to everyone by the time I was 13 and I had never been more terrified yet so liberated at the same time. Now it's 6 years later. I’ve had a lot of experiences that have shaped my queer and trans identity but to me, that was the most notable.

I now identify as a gay trans man and the acceptance around me has just been growing larger and larger. Now that I have come to terms with my decision and accepted my own identity, I feel more confident, nothing like that social recluse I once was. And yes, I still experience a lot of bigotry and have had a lot of setbacks, but I have found these negative experiences have only made the positive ones so much stronger.

I hope that one day our world is a safe space for queer and trans youth and that they have a platform for them to discover their own identities without the risk of judgement and bigotry.

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