I was going through Facebook when I saw my friend’s post of Luka, her handsome young son…. but wait a second, I didn’t know she has a son… I remember she had Gaia, a beautiful daughter with her blue eyes and long blonde hair… So I go on her page, and scroll down, to see if there were ever posts of her son, and I don’t find any. Only Gaia. I click on a tag for Gaia, and it directs me to her page, only to feel more confused…. Gaia is now Luka. I go on Luka’s page, I scroll down again, and I see Gaia’s old pictures are still posted…. So not only Gaia became Luka, but Luka is not hiding it. I don’t know why I had so many tears, thinking what this kid had to go through, and the issues he had to face at a young age. I was crying because I could not imagine the courage and strength that this girl/boy has to take the decision to transform her/his life and face the consequences. I was also thinking about his mom, and her reaction, and what she must have gone through…. Too many questions that I wanted to ask, but did not have the courage to ask until being a transgender and what bathroom to use was a big issue in the country. I contacted my friend first, and asked her if it was ok to talk to Luka and ask him a few questions. Luka was very open to explain to me that he is transgender and what it means and few things that he went through along his journey.
Watch Luka’s Interview now on youtube:
1. Can you introduce yourself and tell us what does Transgender mean?
My name is Luka Hodgson, and I am a transgender. For those of you who don’t know, transgender is where your external body characteristics don’t match up with the gender that you feel you actually are. I am female to male, so my external body is biologically female but I prefer to present, be called and express male.
2. Transgender, gay, lesbian, we’re confused! please explain…
For some people sexuality and gender are seen as the same thing. But actually they are very different. Being transgender does not relate to being gay or being lesbian or being bisexual. It can, but it does not mean that it has to. You can be transgender and be heterosexual, or gay. You can be transgender and has it not affect your sexuality and who you have as a partner.
It’s different in the sense that it’s who you are rather than who you go to bed with kind of thing.
3. How and when do you usually know?
How and when being transgender presents is different for every individual. Everyone has different experiences in their life. Some transgender people when they are very young, like toddler age immediately have a really visceral reaction to gender roles. You can have a boy who loves playing with barbies and like wearing dresses, and say “I am not a boy, I am actually a girl” at like very young age, or you can have some people who kind of like me, who more when they hit puberty, they kind of go “ohhh you know my body’ is changing not how you think my body is changing and not how I am comfortable with”… You can also have some people who not until way into their later years of their life, go “all these years I have been pretending and maybe actually it’s different and it’s just taking me a while to realize.”
4. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience?
When I was really young, in the toddler age, I was always a little more tomboyish, but never outright rejecting female gender roles. I pretty much fit in with something being a little off, but I never actually rejected everything. and then at the age 11 or 12, the feeling of being slightly different rose a lot and I went
“no I don’t relate to girls, I don’t relate to wearing dresses, and I don’t relate to putting on make up and having long hair. This feels really off.”
I found more company in men, and I found myself more understanding of how men go about things and how they understand things than women would. It was a rocky path to figure out what was different. I knew something was different , but could not figure out what. I completely forgot how I came across the term transgender and its explanation. and suddenly it all clicked and made a lot of sense. It seemed more like what I am going through.
As soon as I started cutting my hair short and ditching feminine clothes, and ditching all the feminine stuff, immediately I started like “this feels right. this feels more like me. The different thing is kind of going away now:” and the more and more I lived as a male, the more comfortable I have become and the more I feel like my personality and the way I express myself kind of blossomed almost because I don’t feel off every time I interact with people.
Then having started testosterone, and having my voice changed, and things about me become even more masculine, I feel I am getting more comfortable in my skin. I am feeling better and better the more I transition to male. That’s just my experience. For a lot of people, it takes puberty and changes that you don’t like to start happening for you, for it to click into place and go “I know what’s going on here.’
5. How did people in your life react?
Reactions have been kind all over the place to be honest. I used to live in Scotland and I was not out at that school. That’s when I started to feel something was different. But it wasn’t until I moved to America and started high school that I felt that I had a fresh start, that I can mess around with how I presented myself and mess around with a whole new group of people, basically a clean slate. I felt like at my newer school, there were a lot more openly LGBT people and a lot more support and a little more openness in how to express myself. I felt it was easier to dive in into the weird world of gender and its expression and kind of play around with how I was feeling. I actually did not come out until the end of my freshman year of high school when it took me a while to feel out the space and the people and see whether it could possibly be dangerous or it could possibly be great for me to come out. I came out and it ended up being great, being awesome. There is a GSA Gay Straight Alliance at my high school where there were already a few seniors who were transgender and who were kind of mentors for me almost. I told them what I was feeling and they reflected back.. “yes that’s valid and that’s what I feel too and we are probably dealing with the same thing.” That helped me solidify where I am with my gender because I had someone else who knew what I was talking about and what I was going through, that I wasn’t just being weird or having some weird crisis with my gender. The reaction in general since my school has been so open has been accepting and positive. I have barely gotten any negative or mean comments or actions.
The only thing that could be even counted as mean have actually just been where someone doesn’t really understand and haven’t been educated on it, then I am happy to educate them and I’m happy to tell people about it… After a lot of the times that I talked to people who didn’t understand what being transgender is about, they were kind and also treated me nicely because they just wanted to understand what exactly was going on. They are not trying to be malicious in particular, so in general the reaction is being positive for the most part. I don’t think I have been bullied or anything remotely close to that over my gender or my expression. Then at home it’s always difficult having a child come up to you and be like you’ve raised me this way almost all my life, but surprise, sorry that’s not me and your parents that can be like “oh no what…” So at first, my parents were shocked and confused and didn’t really understand how to go about things, but I think after they did some research and they educated themselves on the subject and I educated myself more on being transgender, and we worked together on what this means and how they can support me in my gender. The response has been super positive and super loving and my family is being supportive and willing to help me through my transition and through my journey in general and however far that goes. So yeah, reaction in general from almost everyone is being super positive.
6. What about the Bathroom Situation?
I would say the only issue I’ve ever came across is the large bathroom ordeal that has been going on in America and various states in particular. That has been an interesting journey to say the least. Yet again, my high school has been supportive and great with all of that and I’ve been using the men’s bathroom without any hitch at all. It’s when I travel to slightly different parts of the country that it gets a little more difficult, a little more scary to be honest! I took a trip down California and crossed through central California and I was used to being able to just kind of waltz into whatever bathroom I wanted to and have no repercussions at all. I didn’t really assess safety and usually you wouldn’t think that to go to the bathroom you had to assess safety, but with the amount of transgender people being severely hurt and sometimes murdered in bathrooms, unfortunately it’s actually something we have to look out for. So when I took this trip I went into a bathroom and had probably the scariest experience I’ve ever had in my life which was walking in and having a large 6-foot tall man look at me and go you don’t belong here and you should get out and I’m like “oh I’ m just here to use the bathroom, it’s no big deal. I’m not causing any harm” and he’s opening the door and pointing to the sign saying this is the men’s bathroom, you understand…. yes I understand and I’m a man and he kind of gave me a look and I was for a split of a second “oh no, am I going to get beaten I am going to become one of the statistics of people who’ve had this kind of things happen, but luckily he just scowled , washed his hands, and walked out and immediately I ended up leaving and not even using the bathroom. I was not gonna risk it. Unfortunately that is the scariest thing to deal with. There is much more but for me personally, that was the scariest thing I’ve had to deal with in bathrooms and figuring out what’s okay and what’s safe and I hope in the future hopefully at some point the debate across the country, we will become less fear-mongering and less rumor spreading and more understanding that transgender people just want to use the bathroom. It’s not some weird ploy, it’s not some internal terrorist attack, it’s just human beings wanting to use the bathroom like almost every other person who goes into a bathroom uses the bathroom. Yeah, it’s just that simple.
7. What about your love life?
As slightly mentioned before sexuality and gender are separate but in terms of relationships they obviously get intermixed and that’s been an interesting part of my journey. Sexuality is difficult when people look for certain bodily features and you don’t quite fit in certain bodily features and you don’t fit in the regular slots for what a body should be; it’s been interesting because I myself am gay and I’m attracted to men. A lot of men see it as being straight or having intercourse with a woman if you have sex with trans male, and it’s difficult to find people who are willing to fully accept you as male in a relationship and be okay with intercourse despite your body not being traditionally male. That’s been hard… School crushes…My friends can just walk up to someone and be like you’re cute and immediately bam there’s a relationship, but with me, I come with a lot of disclaimers and it’s not as easy to simply start a relationship. I have to “hey you’re cute and by the way I’m transgender and by the way that means things may be different and we need to have a conversation about how this will work and why it gets to that.” A lot of people don’t want to stick around. They just want something easy and simple. You’re a guy you got those parts, cool. You’re a girl and you got those parts, cool! You’re trans, I don’t know if I want deal with that kind of thing and that’s kind of rough and kind of makes you feel discouraged… Why do I even bother dating then? What’s the point if no one wants to deal with that. But there are people out there and I know that there are relationships where trans men and trans women., transgender people are respected and have awesome and really happy relationships and I feel that the high school crush fling kind of thing is just not the world that I can be in and that I’m personally not too bothered about that but I know that that’s really hard for some people. Then fortunately it’s better once you get older and get more into the adult world because people are more mature and more accepting but in general the sexuality aspect of being transgender is kind of insane.
8- What would you like to say to people your age?
I would say a message for people my age or even slightly younger than me, who are going into my stage of life, it sounds like it’s been said a million times, but it gets better. Being young is a whole journey in itself, even without being transgender, and I know that it can be difficult and it will seem like things never change and it will seem like you’re stuck and you’re gonna be forced to live a certain way, but that’t not true. There are so many great treatments out there and there are so many ways that you can feel comfortable in your body and that you can have a great experience and a great life. Being transgender is not a dampener, it’s not a dampener at all on life. To people my age I say that it’s good to hang in there and it’s good to be strong and believe in who you are, and you know who you are, and other people can’t tell you who you are, so hanging in and holding your head up and understanding that things can and will get better is very important.