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'I'm 15, I go to an all boys school, and I'm transitioning into a girl.'

“Could I buy those gender change pills?” That’s what I wrote and put in the anonymous questions box in Year 6 drug education. This was after the teacher offhandedly mentioned that illicit drugs could be laced with a variety of harmful side-effects, including changing your gender.

At the time, I had no clue that the word for what I was experiencing was gender dysphoria, a feeling of distress when your body doesn’t align with your gender identity.

This was the start of my journey to coming out to myself at 15 years old, later to my friends and family, and ultimately to everyone I know.

Milla’s Journey: The story of a transgender child. Post continues after video. 

After the anonymous question box in Year 6, it took me three years to talk to anyone. I couldn’t accept who I was and instead surrounded myself with proof that I didn’t exist. I found articles saying transgender and gender diverse people are a scourge upon the earth, read forums filled with people claiming trans people are invading women’s spaces and would also express my own casual transphobia. Hatred was an easier pill for me to swallow than admitting to myself that I am different.

Eventually, I stopped falling victim to this and came out to myself in early Year 9. About a year later, I came out to my mum, explaining it to her after dinner. Her knee-jerk response was to ask, “Are you going to start wearing frocks now?” It was unsettling at first, but after doing some research, my mum became the most supportive person in my life.

Am I trans
"About a year later, I came out to my mum." Image: Supplied.
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It seemed like every month involved coming out to someone new: the hospital, to get the ball rolling on medical treatment; some close friends at school, after gauging their reactions with some jokes; and eventually some trusted teachers to start the process to officially changing everything at my school. I’ve also struggled to change the gender marker and name on my birth certificate.

Medical treatment became a pain-point for me. My parents are separated and I hadn’t come out to my father, so was forced to pursue medical care without full parental consent. This meant I had to prove my competence by listing the medications I might be taking, the side effects of them, along with the hardest question to answer: “Why do you want to medically transition?” It’s a difficult question to answer, to have to explain something so personal.

Mia Freedman speaks to musician and radio presenter Eddie Ayres, about transitioning from female to male. Post continues after audio.

A few weeks ago, I finally got access to hormone replacement therapy, which is when the sex hormone of the gender you were assigned at birth is replaced with that of your identified gender. For me, that meant blocking the testosterone in my body and adding oestrogen.

Even just the psychological effects of this have been amazing for me. It’s incredible to know that I’m not going to become more masculine by the hour, but instead will progress in line with my identified gender.

am I trans
"Even just the psychological effects of this have been amazing for me." Image: Supplied.
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While all this has been happening, I was also socially transitioning at school. I accidentally connected with some other transgender people at my school through an online forum. They offered to send a letter and speak to the principal of our school to gauge his response. While the initial reaction seemed positive at the time, it quickly changed when I came out to him personally.

Changing my name and organising a different toilet happened relatively smoothly after I pointed to department guidelines. None of this would work in practice, however, if the student body didn’t know about me being transgender.

I was given a date to come out to the school, but it was delayed countless times. The final day coincided with when I wasn’t at school because of an extracurricular activity.

Am I trans
"I was given a date to come out to the school, but it was delayed countless times." Image: Supplied.
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This meant the principal came out on my behalf while I was away. The process really didn’t sit well with me and many students who heard his speech weren’t fond of it either.

My principal coming out for me made me feel like I had to then come out on social media myself.

I assumed people would be much less receptive than they were. A few friends at debating huddled around my phone looking at the initial, mostly positive, responses. There were some negative ones, but they were few and far between - less than 10.

One issue that hasn’t been resolved at school is the uniform. I attend an all boys’ school and wear a shirt, tie, blazer and trousers each day. For me, a uniform without a tie would alleviate my dysphoria significantly, as people would gender me correctly more often.

One issue that hasn’t been resolved at school is the uniform.
"One issue that hasn’t been resolved at school is the uniform." Image: Supplied.

Looking forward, I hope that schools and lawmakers realise the importance of supporting transgender people. It should be possible for me to change my gender marker and name on legal documents. And it should be possible for me to go to a school with options regarding uniform. Despite the challenges, I’ve been blessed to have great support networks and I can only see a better future ahead. As I get older, become an adult and start university, I hope the journey will only get easier.

Tune into ‘Transgender Teens’ on Insight on Tuesday, 28 May at 8.30pm.

Tags: features , health , lead , sex , transgender
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