Alright, so I know (almost) everyone knows about the LGBT community, but do you really know about the T in the acronym? Well, I’m sure you know what it stands for, but let’s just see what it’s really like to BE the T – Transgender.
Okay, so you guys have probably seen the trending photo from a while ago with a young boy’s response to teens advocating against the idea of there being more than two genders. But who IS the boy? I mean, he was on BuzzFeed, you just HAVE to learn about him.
Ian Alexander, a now junior in high school, lives the T everyday of his life. Ian was born into a very religious family of the mormon faith. Him and his family moved around a lot due to his father’s job, so Ian had been around so much diversity growing up, from being born into a biracial household to living in culturally rich areas. But even then, something to him seemed off.
What adults in Ian’s life assumed were aspects of being “shy” or “modest”, were actually aspects of insecurity. Ian went through a lot of things during this period in his life, such as barely talking to anyone and realizing he wasn’t happy with who he saw in the mirror. Since Ian was born into a heavily religious family, he had grown up following the same faith and because of this, Ian prayed for hours as a child seeking forgiveness, when he simply had done nothing wrong.
At the age of 12, Ian got his first iPod Touch. Ian used this new form of technology to sneakily watch videos on YouTube. The videos he had watched were deemed “scandalous” and taught him about things he was not used to since he was growing up in a conservative family. Ian says he was drawn to the LGBT+ community, but had a hard time understanding it, but regardless of understanding it or not, Ian continued learning.
“I remember particularly being obsessed with FtM transition videos – I didn’t connect with it personally yet, but I still remember tucking my long hair into a hat and taking a few “boy” pictures on that iTouch.”
But, sadly, this secret of his did not last long. His father confronted him when he was almost 13. This confrontation brought out a dark side in his parents, causing Ian to feel like a disappointment and even forcing him to go to church to repent for his interest in LGBT+. As time went by, Ian’s mental health began to sink lower and lower. Freshman year had been the darkest time period of his life. Struggles between faith, image, and depression surfaced.
Luckily though, the high school Ian has been attending has a Gender and Sexuality Association. Through this club activity, Ian had found a new outlet to finally open up. He made new friends and came to terms with his sexuality. At this time in his life, Ian had deemed himself as ‘gay’ and even cut his hair off saying it was to mimic Anne Hathaway’s style. Because of Ian finally breaking free from his shell, he had come into contact with trans people his own age, slowly learning and being amazed by how content they are with themselves. This experience eventually led to Ian becoming more self aware with who he himself is.
“I slowly became aware of how happy and at peace I felt when someone mistook me for a boy.”
Ian’s happiness and peacefulness was only temporary because of the way his parents took the news. They had pushed him too hard and became ashamed of who he had become. This was enough for Ian to decide to end his life. He had attempted suicide multiple times within that winter of self-discovery. He wrote letters to his parents about being transgender, telling them how he never felt right in his body and how hopeful he was for them to eventually accept him as their son.
His father did not approve of any of this and became outraged, whereas his mother dealt with depression over it. The fact of the matter is, neither of them knew what to do. They attempted conversion therapy, but Ian refused and things only got worse. After some time, his parents slowly backed off but things at home were still tense.
For the remainder of freshman year, Ian worked on himself. And through this time, his own strength, some therapy, and lots of support from friends, finally led him towards gaining peace with himself. So where is Ian now?
Ian is currently working on a Netflix series where he will be representing a positive and accurate LGBT+ role. Through his role, his own story will be told. His mother was very supportive of this opportunity and has even began to use his proper name and pronouns! He has come SO far in the past year and should be an inspiration to kids all around, because he is living proof that things get better.
Keep strong and have some faith in YOURSELF to know that everything will be okay! Parents, do NOT push your child so far to attempt suicide just because you don’t like the decisions they make in their own lives. Your job as parents is to love them unconditionally. Do just that, because you never know if you’re going to lose them one day.
If you would like to continue following Ian’s story (which I STRONGLY suggest) his Twitter is @ianaiexander.