“I wanted to make friends with people like me”
I first heard about The Proud Trust when I was 16, when Rachel (one of its leaders) came into my school. From there I started going to my local LGBT+ youth group in Liverpool, and in 2017 went on TPT trans residential. That’s when I found out about TPT and started coming to Afternoon TEA (trans youth group), and I’ve now been attending the groups for 3 years.
I wanted to meet other people who had the same experiences that I had, and other people who had taken steps in their transition like changing their name, or having top surgery. I didn’t have any trans friends at that point and I needed a community. I wanted people I could get advice from and speak to about what I’ve been through.
The best thing about these youth groups is the opportunity to meet other young people who have had similar experiences to me. I went to Scouts and a council youth group, and they didn’t have that specific support. Youth workers might not know what trans means, but at TPT you don’t have to explain yourself at all. Afternoon TEA was the first place I had NO reaction to saying I had a boyfriend. It’s easier to be yourself. It’s a whole next level of support and they can be with you every step of the way.
It’s amazing to be together as a trans group, and I love that we don’t just focus on being trans. My favourite sessions were the ones where we talked about the traveller community and learned about International Women’s Day and HIV/AIDS. We’re with people we can share experiences with, but we can learn about other experiences too. It’s holistic.
And I’ve become so much more confident: I presented and organised all my own material for the Art Activist Event we held, and even helped to apply for the grant that funded the event. I know now that I’m a lot stronger than I originally thought. I felt alone and isolated before coming to these groups; I was unsure, questioning my identity, and didn’t know what I wanted for myself. It’s been really nice knowing the group’s there as and when I need it.
It was so important that I knew I wasn’t on my own when I first started, as in college I was the only person like me who I knew. My family sort of knew that I’d started testosterone, but it was a big challenge. It mixed with some of my medication and I had some health issues, so I had a lot going on when I began coming to the groups. But the groups helped so much as I could air everything that was happening: through others opening up about their experiences, I could try what they tried.
It’s so important people know they’re not on their own in this. My friends come to me now if they have issues and want to ask questions about being trans. It’s allowed me to become the person giving the support, and it’s helped me find community.
It’s really helped me find the right path, and where I wanted to be.