Life through the eyes of a trans teen in Arkansas
Updated: Jul 16, 2021
Note: A helpline for trans people can be found at https://translifeline.org.
In today’s society being a trans adult isn’t always easy, being a trans teen is arguably harder — but being a trans teen in the south is an entirely different story. Local teen August Grey*, who has identified as a male since the age of 16 and began his medical transition nearly two years ago, shared his perspective with The Post on living life as a trans teen in Hot Springs.
“My name is August and I am a transgender male,” the 19-year-old began. “I’ve pretty much known I was trans since I was roughly 16; always been more tom-boyish ever since I was in kindergarten. Ever since I was able to dress myself it was always jeans and a t-shirt. I started my medical transition with testosterone at the age of 18**, going on about two years of being on testosterone coming up here in November.”
It hasn’t been an easy journey for Grey. Still just a teenager, he has endured immense tribulation from society and family not accepting him.
“It’s rough, it really is,” he said.
“It’s just a lot of people, I feel like they don’t necessarily understand, or they were raised that way, and I can understand that, you know?” Grey said. “People have their different views, but it’s also, what they don’t realize is it’s not affecting them. What does it matter to them? It’s my life. You don’t have to sleep with me, you don’t have to have a relationship with me in any shape or form; friends or anything. So why does it matter? It’s always been kind of hard.”
Because of this, his mental health has suffered***.
“It takes a toll on it (your mental health), especially towards the beginning with my mom not accepting me,” he said. “Basically I don’t talk to any of my family, except for my mother and my brother.
“Towards the beginning it was really hard, I actually relapsed and went to a mental institution to help me get myself back on track, and now it doesn’t really bother me as much.
"People have their own views, I get it. I don’t really care what other people think about me, but it really took a toll on me in the beginning because I wanted everybody to just accept me and see who I am and just love me regardless.
“I’ve grown to realize not everybody’s going to agree with it, not everybody’s going to like it, and I’m OK with that, I just wish sometimes people would just be at least a little more realistic about it and realize that not everybody’s the same.”
While he said his mother has put forth more effort in accepting him more over the years, Grey said his boyfriend is a major supporter in his life.
“I basically live with him and his family, they’re all really super supportive,” Grey said. “I don’t really go to therapy, I’m not a huge therapy fan, but I do say that even if I needed to talk to somebody I’m sure if I messaged my doctor, the one who prescribes me my testosterone, she would be there for me. She’s got that personal relationship with her patients to where you feel comfortable and you can talk to them literally about anything.”
His primary message to everyone is this:
“I just want to put it out there that trans people are people, and just because we don’t mold to somebody else’s expectations of a person, it doesn’t make us any less human, we still have feelings. We just want to be accepted. We don’t want special treatment, we want to be, whether we’re male or female, we don’t want to be looked at as any lesser than.
“And for my other trans people out there I want them to feel just as secure as any other human out there to be able to live in their own skin and be happy and not have to worry about people looking at them funky, and I’m always open to help other trans people out, or even people who don’t understand.
“I’m very open about my transition. I don’t mind sharing, I don’t mind answering any questions that people may have because if you’re genuinely willing to learn, I will help you. I understand what it’s like to be in the dark because when I was younger I didn’t think being trans was a thing, and being a different gender than what you were assigned at birth was a thing. I would see people claim to be trans, and I was like ‘well that’s weird,’ and it’s just because that’s the way I was raised, but then I grew up and I did some research on my own about it, and I was like ‘oh, well that’s me.’ I just didn’t know there was a word for it, and there were actual medical procedures to go through with who I was.”
About Grey’s medical transition:
“There are several factors that go into medically transitioning,” he said. “One major one, I know for a lot of trans males is the voice drop and the facial hair that comes along with it.
“A little bit more of the private side of it is your periods stop, your body weight goes more toward a masculine build, so like the hip weight drops either into the thighs, or goes up into the stomach. You actually loose some chest weight, so it makes binding easier. But it’s more for just a masculine-presenting outlook.
“I know before I started testosterone I would be called a girl all the time, and I believe mainly it wasn’t necessarily because of how I looked, but I know a lot of the times it was because of my voice. It was so high that it was hard to be perceived as a male. Once I was not even three months into starting testosterone I know that I was being correctly gendered, like even just walking through the grocery store.
"I could tell people could tell that I was a male, and when I would walk out of Walmart, they would say ‘Have a good day, sir,’ and that literally would just brighten my entire day. I would grin all the way out to my car, and I would be so excited, and it brought a kind of happiness that I hadn’t felt in my life in a really long time.”
However, Grey’s medical transition isn’t done yet. He is still looking to have top surgery**** in the near future, and has set up a Go Fund Me to help pay for it.
“It’s an expensive, expensive procedure, and a lot of the times trans men set up Go Fund Me’s to help with their top surgery because the medical system in America, and insurance coverage, is not very supportive of the trans community.
“A lot of insurance plans don’t cover it, so that leaves us out to dry for the funds to come up with $6-8,000 worth of money to put towards just removing our chest, to where as even a cist-gendered woman would be able to get her chest size reduced, and the insurance would cover it.”
“It’s kind of like dehumanizing because it’s a medical procedure and it causes a lot of health defects mentally, sometimes even physically, because some of us do have rather large chests, where if we weren’t identifying as a trans male, the insurance would cover it.
“So I have that set up to hopefully have just a little bit of help to get me to my goal of removing my chest, and not have to worry about unsafely binding, or having to have my chest revealed at uncertain times.
"You know, it would be great to go to the lake, or go swimming in a swimming pool and take off my shirt and not have to worry about people wondering why I have something around my chest to cover up.”
The link to the fund is: https://www.gofundme.com/f/2f9kebtq0o?member=12068121&sharetype=teams&utm_campaign=p_na+share-sheet&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook
“Even if you can’t donate, sharing it would help,” Grey said.
*Grey is his chosen last name.
**Grey had to wait to start his medical transition due to no parental guardian allowing him to do so before the age of 18.
*** A helpline for trans people struggling can be found at https://translifeline.org.
**** “Top surgery” is a term used in the LGBTQ+ community for a mastectomy.