Aired 6 years ago on WORT 89.9 FM 
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Lifestyle

What It's Like To Transition As A Transgender Youth

Brian Juchems, Senior Director of Education and Policy of GSAFE, an organization that aims to create safe, supportive and inclusive school environments for LGBTQ youth in Wisconsin, explains the experiences, feelings and decision-making process that transgender youth often go through.

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"It's not like they woke up one morning and said 'hey, I'm transgender, hey, and I like bananas.'"

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TRANSCRIPT This transcript was generated by AudioBurst technologies

Do people have an idea, or do people almost have no idea? I don't know what it's like to transition, and I can't imagine if that would take a while because you go step by step or actually you would make that decision and you would want it to happen, and it would happen quickly. Does it vary? Give us some education here. - Yea, well the answer is that it does vary. You know, there's no one road map for a youngster or for a adult to transition. And I should clarify I'm not transgender, so I'm a cisgender person. In other words, someone who doesn't identify as transgender. I know that at least for young people, you know sometimes it is. Well, like, first of all, they arrive at this decision that they need to transition after a long period of thought and reflection. It's not like they woke up one morning and said 'hey, I'm transgender, hey, and I like bananas'. You know, something like that is not, something, often times. - And is that part of the, I think the misunderstanding? That people are, that people are opposed to this. - Yea. - They think - Yea, it's a fad, or it's a fleeing thought. It's not, you know, that young students or youth don't sometimes say 'hey, I'm going to be a girl today', or you know. - Sure- dress up in girls clothes. Or, dress up in boys clothes. That's normal gender play, and something that should be encouraged and supported. But what's different is that for a young transgender student, that's very persistent in that belief that they're transgender or that their gender other than what they were assigned at birth. We know from research that that's something that people can be aware of as early as the age of two. You know, between the ages of two and four, most of us become very aware of our gender identity. So that's something people are aware of. You know, young kids don't necessarily have the language to talk about that or express that in really clear ways. But what we know, they're expressing it. And as they get older, they express that really clearly. You know, I think, you didn't ask this question, but I think what's changing is that some parents and some adults are actually learning to recognize those signals from their young people, as opposed to either ignoring them or trying to say it's a phase or trying to force them to be more masculine or more feminine.