Transgender Transition

Amy Pham, Print Managing Editor

The ache of the bandages tug at his chest, making it difficult for him to breathe. He strains his throat trying to make his voice deeper. He slowly unrolls the bandages and finally finds relief, says goodnight to his twin sister, who used to be his mirror image, and falls asleep, dreaming of the day his change will be complete.

Sophomore Jake Hernandez, previously known as Kayla, began making his body change during his freshman year by starting to dress like a boy, after wanting to become male since seventh grade.

“At first, I started using Ace bandages to make my chest flat, but then I noticed how [they] would hurt my chest and my back,” Hernandez said. “I decided to use sports bras so it won’t hurt as much.”

Hernandez has not had any doubts in regards to transitioning due to always feeling like he did not belong in his body. He began realizing that he was technically transgender after exposure to the online blogging site, Tumblr.

“Over the years when I was in middle school, it was hard for me to understand why I was feeling the way I was feeling,” Hernandez said. “Then as I grew older and [went] into high school I understood. I never really felt like I should’ve been born female, I should’ve been born male.”

Though Hernandez is satisfied at finally beginning his transition, he faces insecurities toward his new presentation as a male. Hernandez said he feels more feminine than masculine, due to his small hands and feet.

“I don’t have a deep voice like many guys,” Hernandez said. “I don’t have muscles, and I don’t have that flat chest.”

Hernandez first came out as transgender to his twin sister, Amie, and his mother.

“My mom is pretty okay with it, though she sometimes discriminates [against] me,” Hernandez said. “Whenever I get dressed for school, she sometimes questions [what I am wearing]. My twin [was] one of the people who was comfortable [and understood it].”

Hernandez said most people have acknowledged his change and have responded positively. Although he has experienced prejudice and felt judged by others, but said he remains unfazed due to support from his family and friends.

“My mom’s always told me, ‘No matter what everyone says, don’t pay attention to them,’” Hernandez said. “[Supporters] stand up for me when they hear someone say negative things.”

Hernandez said the students he knows call him by the correct pronoun and his preferred name, but most of his teachers do not. School guidelines tell teachers to refer to him by his legal name.

“I want to spray [people] with ice cold water [when they do not use the right pronoun],” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said he plans to finish his full transition while in his twenties, after saving enough money to have a gender-change surgery.

“I feel like I shouldn’t be in this female body, like I should be in a guy’s, but [until] I get the full transition, [I will have to deal with it],” Hernandez said. “I’m much happier despite all the difficulties. It only changes my body, but not how I act and who I am.”

 *Update from adviser: School guidelines were updated Friday afternoon. Should a student request to be called by a different name associated with the gender they most identify with, a counselor or assistant principal will get parent approval. It is a teacher’s choice to honor a student’s request to be called by their non-legal name.