Transgender student

Jayy, a transgender student at Hanford West High School, is pictured here. (Gary Feinstein/The Sentinel)

(Editor’s note: Jane and Jayy are pseudonyms; however, this story is true.)

Jane knew since eighth grade that she was different from other girls.

She didn’t like wearing feminine clothes or makeup, instead opting to wear boyish clothes. She felt more comfortable around boys than girls. After doing some soul-searching, she came to a conclusion that would change her life forever: She wanted to become a boy.

“I never liked being called a girl,” said Jane, who now goes by Jayy. “There was a lot more pressure. I felt more comfortable around guys.”

Now a student at Hanford West High School, Jayy, 15, has gone through some initial stages in his transition. He changed his name, cut his hair to be more male in appearance and wears men’s clothing.

Jayy became convinced about his decision after watching videos on YouTube depicting the feelings and plight of transgendered people. He realized that he felt the same way about himself that they did.

“Before that, I was identifying myself as a lesbian,” he said. “I didn’t understand that I was actually meant to be a boy at the time.”

However, making the decision and going through some of the initial transition stages wasn’t easy. Although Jayy hasn’t been very vocal about the change, he’s been a victim of some bullying, especially at El Diamante High School in Visalia, where he spent one semester before transferring to Hanford West.

“Some of the students would call me names and give me dirty looks,” he said.

Jayy also told both his parents, who are divorced, about his decision, which was a major challenge for him. Although Jayy said his mom accepted his choice, his dad reacted negatively to it.

“He would try to discourage it and try to make me look more feminine by wearing more girl clothes than usual,” he said. “If I was wearing any boy clothes, he would make me take them off. When I was with him, I would feel bad about myself.”

His deteriorating relationship with his father and other struggles eventually led Jayy to attempt suicide a few times when he was at his dad’s house.

“I just want people to take me for who I am and who I want to be,” he said.

Things began to improve, however. After seeing how serious Jayy was about transitioning, and afraid of losing him forever if he didn’t do something, Jayy said his father approached him a few months ago to apologize.

“He’s a lot more supportive now,” he said. “I think he realized that the way he was acting wasn’t right. Having his support has made me a lot happier and more at peace with myself.”

Jayy also developed a romantic relationship with a girl who he met at a Gay-Straight Alliance meeting. He said she is pansexual, which means she’s sexually attracted to people of all genders and sexes.

“She was very accepting of me,” he said. “She loved me for who I am and didn’t judge me.”

Although he said they were in a serious relationship for four months, it was cut short after Jayy said she fell into a state of depression.

“I’m in love with her,” he said. “I know it sounds strange, but sometimes you just know.”

Jayy said he took the breakup hard, but he’s begun to come back from it. He said he hopes they can get back together someday after she gets well again.

As his journey continues, Jayy said he has been encouraged by the new transgender law that was passed earlier this month that says public schools cannot prohibit transgender students from entering any class, school program, sports team or facility that is consistent with their gender identity.

“Transgender people have more rights now,” he said. “I think it’s going to help students get through the transition more smoothly.”

Jayy said it’s important to make society understand that being transgender is a serious issue that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“Many people say it’s just a stage and don’t take it seriously,” he said. “They say it’s a disorder or that it’s just the devil trying to confuse you. People need to understand that we’re not crazy. This is just how we feel.”

Now, Jayy is looking toward the future. He plans to start taking hormones such as testosterone next month, which is being paid for by his mother. Jayy is also trying to save up for gender reassignment surgery. He said the top surgery, in which the chest is reconstructed through a mastectomy procedure, will be done first. He said it will cost around $6,000.

“I’m going to try and get a part-time job after school and do more jobs around the community,” he said.

Jayy said he hopes to have the procedure done by the end of his junior year and said he doesn’t expect any additional surgeries to be done anytime soon.

“I’m taking it all one step at a time,” he said.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2429 or by email at jluiz@hanfordsentinel.com.

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