Zach Brookes

Birmingham + UK

My Transition Journey so Far

Trans man / 17 and Under + 18-22 / White /

At the age of 5 I felt like I was trapped in the wrong gender because I felt like my mind was completely male but the most uncomfortable thing is in the inside of my body because something wasn’t completely right at the time. It felt really uncomfortable and it effected my self-confidence around people, which was very disappointing for me cause I know my confidence is out there, but I found it hard to show it to people.

When I was growing up I felt like I was trapped in a cage because I found it difficult to come out as male at primary and high school because I was worried people wouldn’t be transgender-friendly. At the age of 14, I wanted to explain to my mom that I felt like I had identity issues cause I kept feeling uncomfortable. It distracted me from my daily routine. For example, I was socially-isolated in my room all the time cause the pain of gender dysphoria made me have suicidal thoughts in my head at the time. I find it hard to be upfront to my parents about my feelings, but again at the time it was phase to them, my mom said you have to wait until you’re older because she thought this was just a phase. I thought to myself, “I keep fighting to get my mom to listen my voice.”

When I was 9 years old I was in McDonald’s I went into the boys’ toilets to get a feel of it. I felt really comfortable. The lads didn’t judge at all, which was great cause I was worried in case someone judged me, but I’m glad I had the confidence to go in the gender toilet I want to be in.

When people kept asking me if I’m boy or girl and girls at school were telling me to go to the boys’ toilets cause of dressing as a boy, I felt really angry and emotional. I wanted to see a specialist about it because it kept distressing me and my mom said, “You have to wait until you’re eighteen to discuss with a specialist.”

When I was at mainstream college I had a lot of bullying about my identity. People were laughing about how I dress, which I found really annoying and emotional. I didn’t have very good support with issues about my identity. I came out to my parents and my 3 sisters, for example. I told my mom and dad via letter in the summer. And I told my sisters when I had my name badge changed when I started college. I felt like it took the pressure off me explaining to them that I’m born male not female at the time. I told my nan via letter 2 years later because I felt like I didn’t want to keep secrets from her anymore because It was stressing me out with her saying the wrong pronouns at the time.

In the family, the responses are positive. Like my mom is very supportive and my dad found it hard at first but he started to get used to it.

I transferred to a specialist college in September 2013 I came out properly as male at the college I never expected support from everyone at the college. They did a lot of work with me to try and get a referral to Sheffield Gender Clinic because in July 2013 the local GP forgot to write the paperwork for the referral to the clinic. They supported me in going with me to my appointments while my parents were at work, because, at the time, my appointments were during my college days so my parents couldn’t take the time off work for them to come and support me through my journey. Now I go to my appointments on my own without support from my college friends or my parents. That’s how I built my confidence in travelling.

In December 2013 I came out to my tennis coaches after months of feeling isolated. They responded really well. They support as much as they can to help me with the process now.

The week after my 20th birthday, on the 28th of February 2015, I have signed to say that I’m taking testosterone gel for the rest of my life. I felt so relieved after a long wait with assessments and everything else while I waited for a cure. I needed to start hormone therapy. On the 10th of August 2015, I went up to the clinic and got my prescription for the gel. When I put it on for the first time, it was really great. For the past 11 months it’s been challenging and being on T has made my self-confidence grow sky-high. I’m happier and now I’m waiting for a referral to have top surgery in Brighton and hoping to break free from having chest dysphoria. That’s my goal for 2016 and hopefully to move on to bottom surgery in the future.