University is hard enough without the added anticipation, pressure and confusion of coming out as transgender! The National Union of Students say there is an estimated 28,000 students in the UK that are transgender. With the transgender community on the rise, I thought it would be helpful for anyone who hasn’t come out yet and is at university or thinking of going to university to get an insight into an experience of an individual who came out as transgender while at university. I interviewed Alex (born Abbie) from my university to get an insight into being transgender at uni.
At what age did you start to think you might be transgender?
For me there wasn’t like a specific age that I knew and I haven’t ‘known all my life’ as many other trans people would say. I have always been uncomfortable with my body and never really known why. I suffered with eating disorders and mental health issues all my life (primarily from puberty age 12) but it wasn’t until I was 15 that I actually started to think about it more. Even then I brushed it off and continued as female, literally until August 2017 at pride.
How would you describe your experience coming out as transgender while at university?
It’s been decent, people have been generally quite accepting of the changes I am making. Most people know me as my new name now and a lot of the friends I’ve made this year have only ever known me as a guy which is really helpful.
Have you received any negativity in regards to you coming out as transgender?
Not at university as such but when I’ve been on nights out. I’ve had people calling me a lesbian and then once I’ve told them I’m a guy they change it to dyke, which is quite disheartening but in general it’s been pretty good and most people are supportive and accepting.
Have you started your transition into becoming a male yet and has university affected your transition in any way?
I have been referred to the gender clinic but I am yet to receive any appointments etc. as there is a potential 14 month waiting list to even get your first appointment! University has affected my transition in that it has pushed me to accept myself and be comfortable with who I am. Meeting other trans people within the university has really helped me come to terms with being transgender and feeling less alone in the journey.
Has the university been supportive in any way since you have identified as transgender?
The university have been very supportive, particularly the welfare team. Everybody calls me Alex now and although my records are still down as my birth name and female, all staff members tend to use my preferred name once I have explained the situation to them.
Do you think your experience of coming out would be much different if you were not at university?
For sure! My parents are nowhere near as accepting and understanding as the people I have met at university. They refuse to call me anything other than my birth name and are very baffled by the whole thing so being at university and seeing other people that are further in their transitions, leading happy lives is what made me decide to come out and progress with my transition. I don’t think I would have ever had the courage to come out as Transgender if I didn’t come to university.
What message would you give anyone that is transgender and at university?
Be proud of who you are, speak to people and know that you are not alone. You have an amazing support system around you here and honestly you need to use it to your full advantage! Being transgender sucks and it is so hard but connect with people around you and I promise you it will get easier to accept.
What would you say to your younger self if you could?
Honestly, JUST BE YOU. Don’t listen to your parents continuously forcing you into wearing makeup and dresses. You do you! Stop trying to push these thoughts to the back of your mind and face them because believe me it will be worth it. Society’s norms are there to broken so don’t be afraid to jump outside of what is normal.
If you would like to find out more about Alex and follow his journey, then check out his Instagram page searchingforalex.
Did you like this article? Let us know in the comments below! Don’t forget to share this with your friends!