Talking to a Transgender Teen

The non-profit journalism organization Voice of San Diego has already gotten big buzz and a story this week on a transgender teen who spoke at a school board meeting about bullying explains why website has been so successful: great stories, great interviewer, and finding great subjects.

Blessed with an incredibly mature high school junior, writer Emily Alpert interviews who Isaac Gomez, who first came out a transgender in middle school.  Her questions–and his answers–focus on all the issues someone who may not be familiar with transgender teens may wonder about and she does what all good journalists do: let the subjects speak for themselves.

So many transgender people come out much later in life than you did. How do you think coming out as young as you did made your experience different?

What I first think of is how I got my mastectomy when I just turned 14 years old. I think it was so great to get it at that age. I was just going to go into high school and I started completely new.

It’s not like I completely changed from being a girl to being a guy. I’ve always been a guy. And I’ve always been seen as a guy. People would mistake me. But eighth grade was such a good transition time. I was confident. I completely flourished. I became a new person.

Everyone is changing at that time. Do you think that made it easier?

Definitely. I’m transgender, but I’m so much more comfortable with my body than I think a lot of people are going through high school.

What are the biggest misconceptions you run into?

A couple weeks ago I hung out with my best friend since kindergarten and she said, “So the other day I watched a documentary about transgenders and I didn’t know that it was completely different from being gay.” (As the TransYouth Family Allies website explains: “Gender identity is who you are not who you like.”) Because we never really talked about it. I’ve always been like this. So she never asked me questions.

Do you ever wonder about what it would be like if you didn’t live in this time or in this place?

The one that I have thought about — what if I didn’t have the family that I have? I’d probably be out on the streets. There’s no way I’d be able to get my medications or a mastectomy — never. It’d be things that keep dragging me down and make me feel less comfortable with myself.

Definitely read the whole thing.

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