Teen’s story of struggles with identity through gender dysphoria

The Scottish publication Summer Books is inviting stories from people struggling with their identities as being different gender, different sexual orientation, same gender, or

those diagnosed with mental illness, after seeing their parent differently.

Staff writer Robey M., 17, from Edinburgh, who was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at 16, has returned to school to complete his Leaving Certificate exams, while also completing his essay for the Summer book contest. His story is here.

I started to go through feelings of dysphoria when I was eight years old. This means I identify as I or someone with a transgender identity. It took me around four years to begin expressing my internal thoughts, fears and desires.

When I was at primary school, my parents left an ill form letter on my desk. My teacher noticed the letter and the manager had it translated into English and signed off as it was in my handwriting. As soon as I opened it the words shocked me and I lost it. I cried and cried. They wanted me to be happy and didn’t understand why I was not able to cope. They were at the time even at a loss for words to explain it to me. My mum came and picked me up and picked up what they thought was the solution to my problems. They said if I came out with some remarks, maybe even jokes to that effect that it will make things a lot easier and lighter for me to express.

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My family faced severe discrimination, as well as social taboos and judgement, and as a result we lost contact and I faced tremendous difficulties with my school. They would call it things like you don’t feel like being a girl, or too many things like that. At times I was so scared that I would end up doing something that will make my transition harder, that will get me kicked out, or that I would lose my life to be the person they thought I was or was pretending to be. I didn’t know what I was.

I went back to school to finish my Leaving Certificate exams, after my transition at 16. I wrote my final paper and wrote how I had been feeling since age eight when my parents left that letter on my desk. I hadn’t told anyone but I found out that it could have been a teacher, and was very glad that it was not. I’m not the only one who has this experience of the discrimination we face as transgender people.

I can only imagine how hard it must be for those that have struggled because their family are either much stronger, or they are lucky enough to be adopted or have a mum or dad that support them. I hope that writing a story will make it easier for them, and will help them to keep going as they show support for others going through similar challenges.

For more information about the Summer book competition, please visit the Summer Book website.

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