Being born in the wrong body is something more young people experience than one might have thought. Ruben Willis-Powell is a transgender, twenty-two year old student at Falmouth University who had a lot to share about his story, in hopes of getting people to understand what transgender really is.

Ruben said, “I remember going through the internet and trying to find things to help explain it and I eventually made some friends and it wasn’t that they sort of pushed me to look at anything but talking to them, I was like ‘oh my god there is a name for this,’ this isn’t something strange, there are other people who feel like this!”

Ruben experienced feeling different up until puberty, which is where things got even more difficult. Wanting no breasts to grow and no periods to start, he took to the internet in attempts to find answers for the feelings he was experiencing

It could be argued that there isn’t enough support for transgender people and how schools ought to be educating people on this early. “If I’d had that information that there wasn’t just male and female, or, you get people who are in the middle or people like me, who are trans, if we’d had that information, just the thought of how much easier it would be and how much more acceptance there would be, because there wouldn’t be all these misconceptions.”

Ruben had his breasts removed February 2016.

Ruben discussed the difficulties in not only coming to terms with who you are, but explaining to others who do not know. He said, “A lot of people seem to think you only come out once, coming out… it keeps going, and trying to work out if you feel safe enough to tell someone is very strange because obviously people don’t understand it, other than sensationalised journalism or documentaries where they show the shock factor.”

“I know trans women also get a lot more hate than trans guys because there is so many more standards for women in general, like standards of beauty and standards of what makes a woman and I think really, I’ve got it a lot easier in that regard.”

“The only thing that I feel sometimes gives me away is either my height or my voice when I’m being too friendly and speaking too high in an attempt to not so bored or disinterested.”

The Transgender flag

One of the steps of transitioning is getting hormones, for example, Ruben takes Testosterone daily to override the female hormones in his body. “I think hormones are the most important things personally, because for me they have lowered my voice, I’ve got a little bit of facial hair, it’s like peach fuzz at the minute, and I’ve got some body hair.. It stops periods as well and its just such a life saving thing.” All of this sounds fairly straight forwards, but that doesn’t mean the process of getting them is easy. A number of assessments, mental and physical, and a lot of waiting get in the way, not forgetting the health risks that may follow. Ruben says, “Its all about essentially getting your hormone levels right, because for trans guys testosterone can have an effect on your liver.”

Ruben had to fight back at doctors who were focusing on the type of birth control he was initially taking to stop periods. “They decided that they wanted me to get the implant or take injections and I just refused and I said that’s not happening, because a lot of those are putting more female hormones into your body, so to me, that just seems counter productive.”

Just a portion of the paperwork Ruben had to go through in order to start treatment for transitioning.

It was clear that each step towards transitioning brings a new sense of light to a trans persons life. “All of that jumping through the hoops and doing what they want you to is worth it when you get your first dose of hormones, or you get your top surgery referral, this weight is lifted because you know you are going to get there eventually.”

Asking what Ruben would like to say to those who might not understand transgender, he said, “even if it seems sudden to you, it will have been months and maybe years of pushing it down and discovering and changing. Just believe them, one of the key things is believing them and supporting them.”