A Transgender Experience: A Conversation With Ashley

Interview of Ashley by Freya Bennett

Hey Ashley, how are you?

I’m doing ok, got a few hiccups lately with life but I’m sorting through it slowly!

How old are you?

I’m 20 years old, 21 in December

Where do you call home?

I call our family house in Lilydale home, I live with my parents and sister.

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

Where do I start!? Haha, I have a passion for costuming, I love to play video games, watch Netflix, and a couple other things! I love my pets, I have a cat named Rosie and a dog named Rosy! I’m definitely more of a cat person. I’ve recently started exploring my love for mermaids a lot more too!

When did you realise you were transgender?

Easy! I’ve known as long as I can remember that there was something different about me, I’ve always felt like I wasn’t comfortable in my skin, I enjoyed more traditionally girls things and when no one was watching I would play with my sister’s dolls. I realized I was transgender last year, 2014, when I was researching about gender on the internet and finding new words and their meanings. One afternoon I came across the word Transgender and the description just clicked so well with how I felt.

At first I found it hard to believe, I mean I had read a lot of stories of other people and what they’ve gone through, both good and bad. So I didn’t want to believe it at first, I tried for a long time to see if I was actually genderqueer or just a very feminine boy. It was after I met my current best friend, Anita, that I finally found the courage to face who I was and face the real reason I was so uncomfortable and unhappy in my skin. And thanks to her, I’ve found the strength to come out to everyone, and take the steps to start my transition!

What are your current goals?

My current goal is to peacefully and successfully complete my transition and be happy and be able to finally love myself! I’m also trying to get into a production course to hopefully make a career out of prop making and costuming.

How do you go about achieving your goals?

Honestly, so far I’ve kind of just been sitting at home, and slowly building a folio; as for my transition I have amazing support from my friends and family to help me.

You have started transitioning this year, how has it been so far?

It’s been a roller-coaster ride! As of mid July 2015, I’ve been taking hormones for just under 3 months. So far all I’ve done is bought some new clothes to starts feminizing myself and experiment with what style suits me, I regularly get my eyebrows shaped and shave my legs as often as I can, except for in winter, pants are great at concealing an unshaven leg hehe. Emotionally I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, which I was told by my GP was to be expected! I’m also in the middle of training my voice to sound more feminine!

For people who don’t know, tell us a little bit about the process of transitioning:

Firstly, you need patience, lots and lots of patience. I hate to say it, but don’t expect to be on hormones within a month or two after first finding out you’re transgender. Personally, it took me a lot of jumping around between GP’s, psychologist, and finally ending up with a GP in Prahran. The final GP referred me through to a psychiatrist for assessment. The reason for this was to make sure I was stable enough to take hormones. For anyone who is just beginning to transition, I highly recommend Dr. Sven Strecker from Prahran Market Clinic. Another thing is that in our journey you can’t be afraid to travel some distances. From what I’ve experienced, most of the services that were actually useful were at least an hour’s train ride away from where I live. Clothing in my opinion is personal preference and how ready you feel. Confidence is also a factor. If you’re confident enough to crank out the dresses and makeup day 1 of your transition, I applaud you, I really do. Personally, I’ve chosen to make the best of effort to dress androgynous. Voice-wise: practice, lots and lots of practice.

How have friends and family reacted to your transition?

I’ve been very fortunate that they reacted extremely well. Everyone has been very supportive and I have so far had little to no negative responses!

What do you wish you could tell the world about being transgender?

Honestly, it’s kind of a pain in the behind! The depression combined with all the medical expenses just to be able to be who you really are is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. That being said, I did have my eyes opened to the wider LGBT community and I’m now even more open minded than I ever was.

What do you wish you could change about the world in regards to transgender people?

I wish people would stop being so black and white, and that violence towards transgender people was gone, so that I am able to go about my day presenting how I want without a constant fear of the possibility of being harassed or worse. I also wish more people were more educated about the LGBT community.

What advice do you have for teens who are trans?

I could say just be who you feel you are, but the truth is, sometimes it is too dangerous. I’m not going to sugar coat that fact; that’s the reality of being transgender. Having said that, however, it is important to surround yourself with positive people who support you, and seek out support groups where you are cared for and where you can be yourself and begin the journey to find true happiness. As the world is becoming more and more aware of transgender issues and people are becoming more educated or are open to being educated, things will become easier for us, slowly, but steadily.

If you could tell your 13 year old self something, what would it be?

Take some time out of your day, or maybe some times out of several days, to just think and reflect on yourself, do some soul searching. The internet is an incredible source of information if you’re unsure whether you’re transgender or not. It can sometimes take years to come to the realization that you are in fact transgender, and during this time, you could go through different phases such as bargaining, denial, etc. The important thing to remember is not everything you read about other people’s experiences are necessarily what you will experience. If you are afraid of coming out, try it slowly. Sit down with your parents, and try starting out by asking them what they know about transgender people, try to educate them as best as you can before announcing how you really feel. It will be alright.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Now that is a tough question! Honestly I would choose the ability to shapeshift, and gain the abilities of every form I shapeshift into.

If you could wake up and have one skill, what would it be?

Probably the skill to change my gender at will! Or is that more of a superpower? I have no idea haha!

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

Some place where it can be both cold and snowy but also nice warm weather, not too warm though!

Who is your hero/heroine?

It changes now and then, but at the moment it is definitely The Flash.

What is your biggest fear?

Waking up one day and finding out my whole transition and all the progress I’ve made was all just a dream.

What is your proudest moment?

Wearing high heels out for the first time and feeling great about it!!

Any final words of advice?

Be true to who you are, but also be aware of your environment. If you’re not in the best position to come out as transgender or to transition, look for other options. Also, better get in the habit of saving every scrap of money you can get, because this journey is VERY expensive.



Freya Bennett

Freya Bennett is the Co-Founder and Director of Ramona Magazine for Girls. She is a writer and illustrator from Melbourne, Australia who has a passion for youth rights and mental health. To combat her own battle with anxiety and hypochondria, you can find Freya boxing, practicing yoga, taking sertraline and swimming in the ocean. She believes in opening up about her mental health struggles and shining a light on what is not spoken about. Freya welcomed her first daughter, Aurora into the world on the 21st of November, 2017 and spends her days building blocks, reading stories and completely exhausted. With a passion for grassroots activism and creative community, Freya began Ramona Magazine as an alternative to boring, image-obsessed teen media. The magazine is founded upon Freya’s core values of creative expression, equality and kindness. You can follow her on Instagram @thecinnamonsociety

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