Pheonix, by Laurel Golio, We Are The Youth
Phoenix, We Are The Youth. Photo by Laurel Golio.

The following story was included in We Are the Youth, a collection of profiles and photographs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer and transgender youth across the United States. Phoenix, a 15-year-old transgender teen from Boston, shared one of many deeply personal and highly specific stories that make up this ever-evolving project.

Reprint from We Are The Youth

Phoenix is actually my given name. Of my three siblings, I’m the one with a gender-neutral name, which I’m thankful for.

I first heard the word transgender in sixth grade when kids from high school came in and did a skit about being accepting of LGBT people. I went to the library and poked around on the Internet. After reading a bunch of stuff, I realized I fit the description of what went into the transgender category. I was kind of confused at first, but it was pretty cool that there was a word for what was going on in my head. I knew I wasn’t a girl and didn’t want people to see me that way just because that’s how I’d be born.

I kind of held onto that information for a while, and didn’t tell anyone. Then I joined the Gay-Straight Alliance and made a couple friends who were trans. They were really accepting. They offered to introduce me to people in the LGBT community.

When I told my mom I wanted to use male pronouns, she helped me get a therapist, and has supported everything I’ve been doing to further my transition. My family has been very accepting.

At school it was different. My freshman year I was still going by female pronouns and didn’t have too many friends, and my friends weren’t around much. I was just stuck in a hole, and I sort of crashed and burned.
Now I go to a therapeutic school. My junior class is nine kids. For the most part everyone there gets along. I like the idea of a smaller environment.

Everybody knows I am transgender at my school, and no one has problems with it. I had the social worker at my new school talk to everyone who knew me when I still used female pronouns. In doing so, I sort of came out to everyone. I don’t mind people knowing what’s going on in my life.

I have a whole new scene I’m around now that I’m at a new school. Most of my friends are LGBT, and they’re all cool. My best friend I met at school last year, and her boyfriend was trans, and we bonded over that.
With these friends, I don’t have to worry about passing 100 percent of the time. Everyone knows I go by male pronouns and that’s how I like to be seen. I respect them and they respect me.

As much as I love hanging out with my friends, I value alone time to talk to my friends online or write. I mostly write fiction. Sometimes I write things I take from my own life, and fictionalize it. I love giving characters back-stories. I publish some of my stuff online. I’m not completely ready to show all my work.

Buy the book: We Are the Youth

Read also: A conversation with the creators of We Are the Youth

Text by Diana Scholl
Photo by Laurel Golio