Lifestyle

Three Transgender Kids Share Their Stories

Happy Pride Month! 2021 has been a record year for anti-trans legislation, and we stand in support of our transgender friends and readers. This month, I was thrilled to interview three amazing transgender kids. Below they share their favorite hobbies, how they transitioned at school, and the advice they’d give other kids…


Violet, she/her, age 13

Can you tell me about yourself?
I’m 13 years old. I’m almost 14. I’m in eighth grade.

When did you transition at school?
The end of second grade, beginning of third grade. But I was part of the girls’ group from when I was in kindergarten. Everyone knew I wasn’t a boy. So, it wasn’t a shock when I transitioned. Everyone was so young, they were like, this is cool. They were supportive. ‘This is weird’ happened later.

What happened then?
By fifth, sixth, seventh grade, people would be like, ‘You’re still a boy, you know you’re still a boy.’ I’ve had experiences where people have called me slurs. But it was only a couple people. All my friends were supportive. And a lot of people who weren’t my friends were supportive. There will always be kids who don’t understand or don’t get it, and it sucks, but you just have to deal with it.

I’m about to start high school. I’m moving to a different school, so I get a chance to start over and be anonymous. That’s going to be really good for me. I want a chance to have a regular school experience, not necessarily based on who I used to be. The kids in my school right now have known me since preschool, so they know everything. I want to have control over who I tell and how that happens.

How did you choose the name Violet?
My mom gave me a list of names and she said, pick one. I always liked the name Violet because she said that’s what she would have named me if I had been born female. I thought the name was cool and different.

What have your parents, siblings or other people done or said that has been helpful?
Even before I came out, I got the sense that no matter what happened, I would be unconditionally loved by my parents and siblings. I have a twin brother in the same school as me, and he always sticks up for me. He says if anyone says something, they can talk to him about it. He’s my rock. My little brother has only grown up with me as Violet, so it seems normal to him, which I appreciate.

What do you wish people knew about being trans?
The main thing is that it’s not a choice. It’s a choice to come out, but being trans is not a choice. It wasn’t like one day I woke up and felt the way the wind blew and wanted to be a girl. I ALWAYS knew I wasn’t a boy. It wasn’t that I wanted to be a girl; I WAS a girl. I just had to put that into words and explain that.

What was it like when you were very young?
I didn’t really understand the concept of gender, but about four years before I came out, the first day of pre-K, my mom let me choose what to wear. I was always wearing pink and expressing myself. Later, at my elementary school, you had to do mandatory swimming, and one day in the locker room some boys were misbehaving. I was so body-conscious that I would change in the stalls, so I wasn’t a part of it. Then the swim teacher came in and started yelling at them. And later our teacher was like, ‘Can all the boys stay behind? All the girls can go to the yard.’ And I was like, well, I’m not a boy so why am I even here? It was frustrating.

Are there things people say or do that isn’t helpful?
People think it’s okay to ask, Do you have a penis? before they even know me! It’s highly inappropriate and it’s also a weird question. You can’t go up to people before you know their name and say, hey, what’s in your pants? That’s always uncomfortable to me. But I also don’t like when people try to be overly supportive or make sure I’m totally okay with everything. When people are talking about it at all, even if it’s positive, I get embarrassed or flushed. So, I think there’s a balance of respect with people’s pronouns and privacy and not being like, how do you feel about this? Can I call you this? Those are great questions to ask but sometimes I’m trying to just be a person.

Anything that’s surprised you?
Even if you expect some things to happen, you’re still caught off guard. For example, as I was going into the girls’ bathroom, I overheard someone say, ‘Why is he going into that bathroom? He’s such a perv.’ I was like, okay… this stuff is bound to happen but it’s still a shock when someone says something hurtful or rude.

What would you tell a younger kid who is transgender?
Even if some people don’t get it, at the end of the day, it’s going to be okay. Everything that you’re feeling is totally normal. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not. It’s okay. Just live your life. Everyone cares about what others think of them, but once you stop caring as much, your life opens up. That’s really powerful in my opinion.

Also, find a community, if you can. For many years, I’ve gone to a sleep-away camp, which has all trans kids. It has been a really amazing experience. It has given me a chance to connect with people who have gone through similar things and just know that I’m going to be able to have fun and a normal kid experience — and I have a deep connection with everyone there. I feel safe there. Being trans there is normal. I’m not the only one. That’s really cool.


Zack, he/him, age 9

What hobbies do you have these days?
I really like rock climbing. I like painting. Sometimes I make dinner for my family, and I always make a dessert.

Ooh, like what?
I take a cookie and then I add a lot of chocolate. I once made an Eiffel Tower of chocolate. I took a cookie and put a layer of Nutella and banana on it and another layer of Nutella and some York Peppermint Patty Minis and another layer of Nutella and chocolate chips on top.

What’s your favorite animal?
I like snakes and tarantulas. I haven’t seen a tarantula but I want to.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
At school, we have question of the day, and my teacher just asked that question! And I said either a food inventor, rock climber or DJ.

Do you remember when you realized you were a boy?
I realized I was a boy one night right before bed, and it just came to me. I yelled that I was a boy. My mom and my sister were in the room. My friend was in the bathroom bushing her teeth. I don’t know where Daddy was.

How did it feel to yell that?
Good.

What’s the best thing about being seen as a boy?
When people talk to me or about me, they don’t say ‘she’ or ‘girl.’

How did you choose the name Zack?
At first, it was going to be Jacob because we read this book, The Pants Project. It’s about this girl and she went to a new school where they had a uniform and she had to wear a skirt all the time and she didn’t like it at all and there was a boy named Jacob who had a disease that made his legs sometimes not work and so then he and the girl became friends and she told Jacob that she was trans and she went to the school with her friend and then they made a petition and all the boys wore skirts to school and she wore the boys’ uniform. I don’t know why I picked Zack, it just came to me.

When did you transition at school?
Third grade. Everybody was fine with it. There is one teacher who doesn’t really understand it, though. She says she tries but she really doesn’t. I just had class and she called on me and she said, ‘She’s had her hand up for a long time,’ and I tried to tell her I was a boy, and she said, Shhhh.

What have your parents, sister or other people done or said that’s been helpful?
My mom said she was going to email the teacher about it, which is helpful.

What do you wish people knew about being trans?
Some people think there’s something wrong with you and they think it’s just a phase but the only person who gets to decide that is you.

What would you tell a younger kid who is realizing they’re trans?
If somebody tells you it’s just a phase, don’t listen to them. It’s not their choice. Don’t listen to people who tell you you’re different or you’re weird. Well, if they tell you that, take it as a compliment.


Aya, she/her, age 9

Tell me about yourself!
I do Rainbow Loom — I can make bracelets and chokers with rubber bands. And I bike a lot. I like to play Minecraft and play Dungeons & Dragons.

What are your favorite foods?
Oreos — but not the chocolate kind, the vanilla kind. Fries, cinnamon rolls and pasta.

Any foods you really don’t like?
Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, and I think chocolate. We were doing something in the backyard, some party, and someone brought croissants and I asked, is it a chocolate croissant, and she said, I don’t think so, and I ate it and there was a chocolate part in it.

Do you remember when you realized you were a girl?
I always knew because before I told Mommy and Daddy, I was always wearing dresses. For Halloween, I dressed up as Elsa from Frozen. Another time, we all dressed up as witches and there were different costumes for boys, and Daddy obviously got the boy one, but I wanted the one that my sister Emmie had.

How did you tell your parents?
There was one night when my sister was like, ‘So… Mommy’s a girl, I’m a girl, Daddy’s a boy, and you’re a boy.’ But I immediately was like, ‘No, no, I’m a girl.’ And that was the first time, but there was another time. We were driving back from Mommy’s school, and she was telling me about the different words like transgender and all different words and when she described transgender, I was like, that’s me. I was five.

How did you choose the name Aya?
Mommy’s dad’s name started with an A, so it had to have an A. I really liked Annabel, but Mommy and Daddy didn’t like it. Daddy suggested Aya. Now I kind of like Aya more. But I name things Annabel. I have a stuffy named Annabel. And I am doing a historical fiction journal thing and the main character is Annabel.

How did you transition at school?
It started when I was five, but I transitioned at school in second grade. It took years. In second grade, I started wearing dresses. At the end of second grade, I started using they/them pronouns. In third grade, I started using she/her pronouns. In fourth grade, I changed my name to Aya.

How were those steps?
Everyone was accepting. There were no bad things, like saying, no, that’s wrong. There was just this one time I remember — I was playing with a boy in school. And he identified as a boy, but he wore so-called girl clothes. There was this other boy who was like, ‘Why are you guys wearing girl clothes?’ I just said, ‘What’s girl clothes?’ even though I knew what he was talking about. He was like, ‘That’s what you’re wearing.’ And I was like, ‘What am I wearing?’

Also, I told Maria, my teacher, during second grade. That first day when I started wearing dresses, we wanted to do it on Monday. But that Monday was April Fools’ Day, and Mommy said people might think it was an April Fools’ joke. But it was great, nobody thought it was an April Fools’ joke. My teacher Maria also read a book that I brought called I Am Jazz.

Why did you choose that book?
It’s about a transgender girl and I thought it would help everybody know what it means.

Are there any other books or TV shows you like with transgender characters?
The other picture books I like are Born Ready, Introducing Teddy, Bunnybear, Julian Is a Mermaid, When Aidan Became a Brother, Neither, 10,000 Dresses and Pink Is for Boys. I really like the chapter book George, too. I also like the TV show I Am Jazz. Also, fun fact: When we were watching a Mo Willems episode about drawing, he told us that his child is transgender — the one from Knuffle Bunny. Trixie is now Trix!

What have your parents or other people done that’s been helpful?
They’ve been really supportive. My mom told all of our relatives — ‘Aya is transgender and changing her pronouns and blah blah blah blah blah.’ And then whenever we went to play with one of my friends who didn’t know, Mommy would whisper, ‘Do you want to tell them or do you want me to?’ And I was always like, ‘Can you?’ Everyone always has a lot of questions. And then I would play with them and there was no, like, Soooo… why are you doing this? Why are you wearing a dress?

What would you tell a younger kid who is realizing they’re trans?
Don’t let anybody convince you that you shouldn’t be transgender. Before I told Mommy and Daddy, it always felt wrong. Wearing boy stuff and going outside as a boy felt wrong.

What do you wish more people knew about being transgender?
I want everyone to realize that it’s not any different from anybody else. I mean, it’s different and special, but you’re the same as everybody else. I’m a girl. No biggie.


Thank you, Violet, Zack and Aya! Read more about LGBTQ youth at the Trevor Project.

P.S. A transgender advocate’s beauty uniform, and a colorful Seattle home that’s all about acceptance.

(Photo by Hilary Walker/Stocksy. A few names have been changed to protect privacy.)


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