A young trans man in the UK has told how a meeting with Prince Charles helped give him the confidence to be the person he is today.
Like many other teenagers in the UK, Luke Levine, from Essex, took part in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme when at school.
The scheme is a self-improvement program for young people. Its aim is to inspire, educate and build confidence. Levine accessed the scheme through the Jewish youth organization, JLGB.
Luke was assigned the gender female at birth. He still presented as a girl when, aged 14, his participation in the scheme led to a meeting with Prince Charles. Luke met the first in line to the British throne at a volunteering event.
‘Speaking to Prince Charles, seeing how involved he was with volunteering and how passionate he was saved my life,’ Luke told The Sunday People newspaper.
‘I’d never felt the same as everybody else but didn’t know why.
‘It wasn’t until I started the award at 14 that I realised I identified as a trans male.
‘It was a very hard time for me but I realised people want to do good in the world and that they wouldn’t be as dismissive of me as I thought.
‘After feeling inspired – and seeing how volunteering can do such good – I carried on with the stages of the DofE [Duke of Edinburgh] which gave me confidence to transition.
‘I had to go to the gym a lot to get fit for the activities and I started to want to get muscular. It made me realise that what I wanted physically I also wanted mentally. I cut my hair and started taping my breasts.”
‘Going from bronze to gold gave me a safe space where I could help relieve my stress.
‘If I ever felt bad about my body, I just went to the gym.’
Coming out as trans
Luke went on to come out to his sisters and parents as trans when he was 18. The family have been supportive. Last year, he spoke at a Duke of Edinburgh event on how the scheme had inspired him.
‘Over 45 per cent of trans teens attempt suicide. So it’s so vital people realise the value of programmes like the DofE and how they save lives, like mine.’
Luke told GSN he’d been overwhelmed by the supportive messages he’d received since the story appeared yesterday.
‘I’ve had a ton of support from random people and people from my past that I haven’t seen in years. It’s been incredibly overwhelming.’
He’s now taking hormones and saving up money for surgery via a GoFundMe campaign.
Identifying as trans
The UK government has just completed a public consultation on updating its 2004 Gender Recognition Act. The UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, has indicated she is in favor of allowing trans people to self-identify their gender.
Currently, they must gather evidence and submit it to a Gender Recognition Panel, and prove they have lived in their gender for at least two years before legal recognition is granted. Many trans people believe the current process is lengthy, expensive, demeaning and can sometimes result in rejection with little course of appeal.
H/T: Sunday People