“I told everyone: ‘I’m going to be a boy, I want to be called Zach and one day I’ll marry a woman’.”
PUBLISHED: 19:30 19 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:39 20 February 2020
Ipswich man tells his inspiring journey of gender transformation.
"When I was nine, I asked for a penis for Christmas. I always felt more masculine than feminine, but people said it was 'just a phase' or blamed my Asperger's," says Zach Taylor from Ipswich.
Celebrities Phillip Schofield and Jameela Jamil have recently shared their sexualities with the world and been met with an outpour of support, but not everyone receives the same treatment and level of understanding - particularly when it comes to gender reassignment.
Zach, who wants to share his story to inspire others, was born a biological female. When he was eight year's old, he started to become aware of gender and began to reject feminine stereotypes.
"If I was told to use the girl's toilets I'd refuse and use the boys. If they wouldn't let me use the boys, I'd use the disabled toilets. People would try to confine me to girl's sections or make me use pink things, but I wouldn't do it - not because I was being difficult, it just felt uncomfortable.
"People didn't believe me for four years, until I was 12. A year later at 13 I was referred to the Tavistock Clinic where I started intense therapy and I was later diagnosed as transgender. At 14 I started taking hormone blockers, legally changed my name and at 16 I was issued a male passport - which was great, as you need a letter from the doctor for that. At 18 I had a double mastectomy.
"I broke down a couple of times because I couldn't handle it. The hormone blockers cause side effects similar to the menopause, so by the time I started my GCSEs I was having morning sickness and dozens of hot flushes a day - that's not meant to happen to a 14-year-old. But they did stop me from developing any further and stopped menstruation altogether. It was incredibly stressful, and it took years and year to get the help I needed and to get people to support me."
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When I asked Zach how he coped, he responded with: "I didn't. I lost friends, I withdrew, I became angry and miserable. I was so confused and lonely because I didn't have anyone to turn to. I often got told to 'just be a tomboy', but people who aren't transgender can never truly understand the immense emotional pain it causes. During the first few years I wanted to give up, but I told myself that eventually someone would believe me. I just wanted someone to help me.
"I had to stay strong and persistent, but I was very lucky to have my mum who helped me keep fighting. I told everyone: 'I'm going to be a boy, I want to be called Zach and one day I'll marry a woman'.
"Sometimes I'd wonder 'why did I have to be born like this'? There are so many people who live in the right gender and they take it for granted. But there's other people who struggle just to be treated how they feel."
Zach believes primary schools should be more open to people who don't fit gender stereotypes, while educating them on different gender crisis issues. "They should teach children that a transgender person still has the same personality, they'll just feel happier living as the different gender to their biological sex.
"Transgender people are sometimes mocked, but I wish those people would mind their own business; they shouldn't try to decide what's best for others. Trans people just want to live their lives like everyone else. They want to fit in and to be part of the puzzle of society. It's not nice being on the fringes of society, feeling like you don't belong - like you can't be with either boys or girls so you have to be separated from everyone. The majority of transgender people don't want to feel trans - they just want to be a boy or a girl."
In the next 12 months, Zach is planning to get a phalloplasty via the NHS. He is studying at university and wants to continue to help other transgender people feel hopeful for the future.
As a final word to anyone who believes they're transgender, Zach wanted to share: "If you get the right support it will be worth it and you will live a happy, productive life. You need to feel like you're becoming who you're supposed to be. Do what's right for you, and make sure you don't let anyone dissuade from finding your true identity."
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