Ash, who appears in an ITV Tonight programme on gender identity, writes for ITV News about what it is like to live life as a trans man.
Hi, my name is Ash. I’m a 19-year-old guy from Hertfordshire who likes pizza, puppies and watching Netflix. 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 met an androgynous person, who identified as a lesbian, and I remember thinking to myself: “that seems so much better, no expectations of femininity.”
I wanted to be like that person, just being, and so I came out as lesbian. But it still wasn’t quite right for me. I didn’t want to be seen as a butch woman, I was a man. I started experiencing a lot of dysphoria and so in 2016, after reading up online and meeting other people in the same situation 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. 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.
Transgender ‘issues’ have become massive in the media recently but what people don’t realise is this isn’t an ‘issue’ they are debating - this is people’s lives. The idea that anyone could debate whether another person exists is beyond me. At the end of the day, we are all just people and we all deserve the same respect.
It’s not that difficult to ask a person what pronoun they prefer but it can make a world of difference. I think 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!
Watch Tonight: 'Trans Kids - the Right Response?' on Thursday 22nd February at 8pm on ITV. You can also watch it on the ITV Hub.
If you are a young person looking to speak to someone about any of the issues raised in the programme, you can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or visit www.childline.org.uk.