A year ago I was a lonely, scared and frightened person, with a dream to change the world, even in the smallest way. I was afraid to ask for help. Before coming out as transgender, I was facing my own personal battles including bullying, the pressure from society to be 'normal' and family issues, all of which resulted in me self-harming and trying to end my life.
After coming out as transgender I thought my life would get better, but unfortunately this wasn't the case for me. I got bullied really badly, I received death threats, and I would often have words such as 'tranny', 'pathetic' and 'worthless' shouted at me in town or when I was walking home. Experiencing these bad times hasn't weakened me - my past has made me so determined to make change.
I remember a few years ago saying that I wouldn't be alive for my 15th birthday because I was facing my own personal battles with self-harm and suicidal thoughts. I knew that I wasn't supposed to be born female and I didn't really understand the meaning of transgender until I was 15 years old. That's when I eventually managed to come out. I had this massive weight taken off my shoulders.
I'm Alex, I'm 18, and 2015 was the year that I made a difference.
It all started in January, when I first met with Fixers, the charity that gives young people a voice, and decided to start a campaign ending negativity towards transgender people. I starred in my very own poster campaign, telling people that 'I made the change and I'm not ashamed'. You can take a look at my posters here.
In March I got into my first ever serious relationship (which actually broke my heart when we finished a few months later). Love has taught me an awful lot of things but more importantly it's taught me that things happen for a reason! I also got my braces taken off after almost four years of putting up with them.
In April I got my first ever job in McDonald's!
May was an exciting time - I filmed a broadcast piece with ITV Wales, where I discussed my Fixers campaign. I finally realised that I could get my voice heard, and make real change. I also took part in Fixers' Good Gestures Day in Cardiff, in memory of Stephen Sutton. It really made me realise how I take everything for granted because we never know who we are going to lose in life. I was so inspired that one individual could make so many people happy. The Good Gestures Day made me realise that I shouldn't dwell on the negative moments in my past, but that I should look to the future instead. I realised that I should embrace every day, because you never know when life will end.
My ITV Wales piece was broadcast in June, and I can honestly say that I felt like I was making a difference for the transgender community, in speaking out against the stigma that transgender people face. You can watch the broadcast here. In the same month I travelled to London to support fellow Fixers who were taking part in the Feel Happy Eating Fix- a set of workshops undertaken by Fixers in order to learn more about young people's experiences of eating disorders.
I worked throughout August (boo), but during this time I was appointed as one of Pride Cymru's Young Person Champions 2015 and as an #iwill ambassador. Both of those roles have changed me as a person. Pride has helped me an awful lot and I owe them an awful lot because they have helped me speak in front of people, they've shown me that anything is possible if I put my mind to it and they've been really positive. Being appointed as an #iwill ambassador has shown me that I am doing something amazing for the LGBT+ community and it's given me much more determination to carry this on! I also had the massive opportunity to speak on stage in front of thousands of people at this year's Pride Cymru event, and as scary as it was I will never forget the experience I had.
In September I started college studying public services and I've met a bunch of amazing people!! I turned 18. I went to London and was diagnosed with gender identity disorder, which is when individuals experience significant distress with the sex and gender they were assigned at birth. This diagnosis means that I can go further within my transition and hopefully in a few months' time I will start on testosterone!
In October I was a key speaker at Pride Cymru's youth conference and a part of the youth jury at this year's Iris Prize Awards which was amazing, and a weekend which I will never forget.
November was brilliant- I met my role model Tyler Oakley in Cardiff at his binge book signing! I travelled down to London for the #iwill ambassador ceremony where I met a bunch of amazing young people and Prince Charles! I was also featured on Wales online and the Western Mail which is absolutely crazy because I never even imagined sharing my story in newspapers!
At the beginning I said that I wanted to make a change, even if it was small. After going through a bad patch in life I have been determined to make it easier for another young (or old) transgender individuals to come out, as we should all be accepted for who we are. I think there is still some way to go, but I know I will get there, and I know that I'll die a happy man if that happens.
During these massive events I've lost friends and gained friends. I want to say thank you so much to those who have been there for me. You've either given me advice, encouraged me to do what I'm currently doing or you've inspired me to carry on, either way I'm thankful for each and every one of you and I really hope we get to spend 2016 together. I hope in 2016 I can continue to bring about change for the transgender community.
Useful websites and helplines:
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41