Words by Jackson, aged 15 – supported by trans youth charity Mermaids.

“It’s a girl, how pretty,” or, “Look at this lovely dress.” These are things that pain me to hear. When it comes to identity, some people can be against the idea that male equals penis and female equals vagina – and some people like to bring forward their heteronormative views.

I’m sure many trans people have heard somebody say there’s “only two genders”. Sadly, this is something I’ve actually heard a lot . As a young trans male, these things have affected my mental health. As a result, my journey to becoming my true self has proven difficult. With the media forever changing people’s perceptions, the hatred against trans people continues despite there being more understanding behind identity today.

People of an older generation struggle to understand transgender people as they’ve been brought up with the idea of only men and women, and that gender nonconformity didn’t exist during their youth. But in time, with our wider understanding and research, older generations are gaining a better knowledge and understanding.

My journey started way back when I was about seven. I was forever getting hints that I was different, but how am I different ? In what way am I different? From then on, I was desperate to find answers to what seemed like a huge problem. That’s when my mental health deteriorated and I began beating myself up for not being able to find answers to “my problem”.

It took six years to find out what my ‘problem’ was and how I was ’different’; I was trans. All of a sudden it seemed to have solved itself and I was thrilled to know who I was as a person.

Related: “My transition, for me, was about moving out of denial” – Laverne Cox opens up about ‘reparation therapy’ experience

Coming out and socially transitioning has been hard. Having social anxiety is difficult at the best of times, let alone when you’re oh so desperate to tell people your identity and what journey you want to take in life. It came to the point when I couldn’t stand people knowing me as a girl any longer, and so I asked for help. Then in February this year, I told everyone; my family, teachers, CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) workers and friends. It was such a relief and now that people know I can start my journey to become Jackson.

However, I have gone through some dark times, and a constant battle with suicidal thoughts has been challenging; struggling to cope with depression and anxiety hasn’t been an easy situation.

I thank the student welfare officer at my school, CAMHS workers, my friends and my family for continuing to put up with me and the many problems I’ve faced so far – be it mental health or identity related. I appreciate you joining me on my journey, and your willingness to support me throughout.

So what are my plans for the future? I’ve now discovered my identity and I’ve come out and socially transitioned. I have future plans; to change my name, get a Tavistock referral, take blockers and testosterone, and if possible have bottom surgery. This is going to be a long journey and it will be a hard one, but I’m willing to go on my journey to become my true self.

I hope that in the future, I can become me and help others get through their journey like others helped me. I hope that as society develops, we gain a better understanding about identity and what it means to be transgender as a collective. I hope that the hate against transgender and gender nonconforming people decreases as this affects people and their journey, much like it has affected mine.

More information on Mermaids can be found here