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Prince Charles honors trans student for turning their life around

Prince Charles honors trans student for turning their life around

Jay Kelly (second-left) stands proud with his award next to Prince Charle

There were just five steps separating trans student Jay Kelly from Prince Charles, and all Kelly could think about was not tripping over them.

The heir to the British throne presented an award to the 21-year-old last week (14 March) on the neon-splashed stage of the Hammersmith Apollo, London.

The nursing student was recognized as Educational Achiever of the Year 2019 at the Prince’s Trust Awards.

Speaking to Gay Star News, Kelly said: ‘I don’t think I’d be alive without The Prince’s Trust.’

‘I don’t feel most parents accept it from the get-go’

When Kelly walked-up the stairs to collect his award, he said: ‘I wasn’t really thinking.

‘It was just five steps but I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall up them!’

But Kelly has taken much bigger steps on his path to becoming an award-winner, especially when it came to coming out as trans to his family.

From Portsmouth, England, Kelly said he questioned his gender when he was 14. He came out as trans just two years later.

‘I came out to my mom in the middle of [supermarket] Morrisons,’ he said, ‘it was a neutral place that she couldn’t explode at me if she didn’t like the news.

‘I asked her to tell my dad as I didn’t know how it would go down.

‘They weren’t exactly the most accepting at the start but now they fully accept it.

‘It took them some time – which is completely normal – as I don’t feel most parents accept it from the get-go.’

‘I lost all my friends’

Kelly is in a better place a few years on, now studying mental health nursing at the University of West London.

But in contrast, high school was ‘isolating’ for him.

When he came out at school: ‘I lost all my friends, we were just finishing year 11, it was a fair amount of years ago.

‘They wouldn’t have gotten it as much as they would do if I told them today.’

His mental health suffered as a result, which saw his attendance plummet. His grades reflected that.

But life isn’t like high school, and Kelly has come far. His friends in college, ‘clicked and just got it.’

‘They’re all 100% supportive, they’re not even phased by it.

‘The world has progressed so much! I’m just so thankful for the people around me.’

The path to Prince’s Trust

The student NHS care co-ordinator first informed Kelly about The Prince’s Trust Fairbridge program.

Prince Charles founded the charity in 1976 to help improve the lives of disadvantaged young people in the UK.

The program provides free opportunities for 16 to 25-year-olds to learn and cultivate new skills.

‘They completely turned my life around and gave my life meaning when I was at a point when I felt I had none,’ Kelly says.

Kelly now studies mental health nursing and is loving every minute.

‘I’ve wanted to do the course for years, and to be here finally doing it is incredible to me. 

‘I’ve met some amazing people and have a group of people I love and trust.’

‘An inspiration and shining example’

At the award ceremony last week, Kelly stepped onto the stage to accept the award, presented by Katherine Kelly and Michael McIntyre.

He shook the hand of the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles.

Among those to praise the young man was Duncan Painter, CEO of ceremony sponsor Ascential.

He said: ‘Congratulations Jay, you are an inspiration and a shining example of the impact of The Prince’s Trust’s work.’

See also

Misgendering trans kids can constitute child abuse, Canadian court rules

This transgender teenager perfectly explains why we need anti-discrimination laws

Prince Charles inspires trans teen to take first steps to transitioning