By Dylan Hayden

WHEN I first came out as trans*, I think most of my family had known already because they took it really well.

I was 19 and studying for my A Levels at college. One assignment we had was about case studies on transgender people. I was pretty naive about LGBT stuff at 19 (despite coming out first as bisexual, then a lesbian) and I didn’t know what ‘trans’ even meant.

As I started the research for my assignment, I came across a bunch of YouTube videos of trans* people documenting their transitions.

It felt like they were describing something I could only dream about.

I related to what they were saying about childhood and even emailed a few with questions.

Before I really begin to tell my story, I’d like to explain two things.

Firstly, trans* generally readers to someone who doesn’t feel right in the gender they were born. This means they could be born female but feel male (like me) or born male and feel female.

Not everyone adds an asterisk to the word trans* but I do it out of courtesy, as trans* is an umbrella term that covers every single person who is fluid or transient in their gender.

Under this term, transsexuals are covered as well as cross-dressers or drag queens/ kings and everyone in between (including people who identify as both genders or feel they don’t have one).

Before coming out as trans*, I slyly dropped the topic in to conversation when I was visiting my parents, to see firstly what they knew about it and more importantly, how they felt about it.

It turns out they were pretty pro-rights. I started transitioning soon after coming out (and still am) but dropped out of college, because although I thought I could handle leaving college for the summer as a ‘girl’ and going back in September as a ‘boy’ I hated the amount of attention I got. None of it was negative, both the staff and students were great about everything, the name change, pronoun change etc, but with levels of anxiety at the time, I wasn’t ready.

When I moved back to Dorset from London, I found out about Space Youth Project. I was really apprehensive about going because I didn’t know if it was the right place for me and thought I didn’t need any support.

I was fine on my own with just my family. Now, I’m not saying my family support isn’t enough, but they didn’t really know that LGBT issues and how to support me through things that straight, cisgendered people (those who are happy with their birth gender) just don’t have to deal with (like being gay and trans*, hormone therapy, diagnosis, surgeries etc).

Space has people from all over the LGBT spectrum and as well as peer support, they have great youth workers who understand things you are going through and know how to help you.

Since becoming a member of Space, I’ve overcome depression, anxiety, self-harm, alcohol and drug addictions.

I’ve got my own flat, found a job and I love and have got engaged to an amazing guy (yep, I’m also gay).

I wish I had know about and gone to Space a lot earlier than I did. I think that if I had, I probably wouldn’t have struggled so much when I was at school .

I can definitely say I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support I get from Space, my family, my fiancé.

And it’s great knowing that when I’m going through surgery in the future, I’ve got a fabulous support network there to help.

If you, or someone you know, identifies with or is experiencing anything I’ve written about in this article, the best thing to do is ensure you have a great support network.

Space runs groups all over Dorset for young people aged up to 25. They provide social/ youth groups for LGBT people, can provide support to the parents/ family of young LGBT people and can also come in to schools and deliver assemblies on homophobia and transphobia.

There are a growing number of trans* young people who attend various Space groups, so between us and the youth workers we have a lot of experience, support and advice to offer.