Jay Anderson, an 18-year-old trans man, recently joined the committee of Newcastle Pride in England (Photo: Supplied)
I was around 13 years old when I realised I was trans. I was growing more and more uncomfortable with my body and the idea of presenting as female.
I remember the first haircut I had was an undercut. Because I had long hair, it took hours of walking around the city centre until I eventually found a place that agreed to cut it for me.
Despite many places refusing because they thought I would regret it, I loved it, and a few weeks later I shaved the other sides of my head and felt so much more confident in myself.
Likewise, the evening I got an email to say that my first chest binder would be arriving the following day, I was up all night with excitement.
It really felt like a new start for the rest of my life and – just like I didn’t regret cutting my hair when others thought I would – I’ve worn it every day since.
‘No right or wrong way’
I have been lucky enough to have my friends and family support my transition but coming out as trans when I was 16 (I’m now 18) was by no means an easy thing to do.
It was a big change for my family to get adjusted to and while I had been dealing with my transition mentally for a number of years, it was still a big shock for them which at times felt quite isolating for me to deal with.
To combat this, I sought out a trans support group in my area where I met people with similar experiences and this is ultimately what encouraged me to seek out a role within Newcastle Pride so I could give back and help others.
Attending Pride events when I was growing up was my first real insight into the LGBTQ+ community and the idea that there was no right or wrong way to be a part of it.
Although I’ve been to Newcastle Pride in the past, I wanted to get involved and joined the committee to give a louder voice to young trans people and to help make the event as inclusive as possible.
Safe space for all
For many people, Pride is one of the only events in the year where they can freely express themselves in a safe space and that means different things for different people.
It is a space for families and allies to show their support for the community, it is a political space – because of course, Pride started as a protest – and also a space for education, with parades happening in cities all over the world.
The theme of this year’s Newcastle Pride is 40 years of the rainbow flag, which was designed by LGBTQ+ activist and artist Gilbert Baker in 1978 and is a symbol that is now synonymous with our community, which shows how far we have come in being recognised since then.
In terms of rights and recognition for trans people, there is still much more to be done and there are various ways in which the LGB part of the community can support this.
One problem trans and non-binary people face at the moment is not being heard, so it’s important for other areas of the community to help amplify our voices.
‘We need your support now more than ever’
From calling out transphobic jokes and comments to standing up for trans people’s right to self-define their gender, there are endless ways you can show your support for the trans community.
And the statistics for trans people being attacked physically, sexually and verbally are alarmingly high in the UK so we need your support now more than ever.
If you see someone being intimidated in a public place, even if you don’t feel safe to stand out and speak out, alerting someone who works at the venue or just sticking around to make sure it doesn’t escalate are all better than doing nothing.
Being respectful can be as simple as not questioning a trans person’s name and using the correct pronouns, which is something that many cisgender people take for granted every day.
And if you’re not sure, then politely asking someone how they would like to be referred to will always be preferable to being misgendered.
Now I am a few years into my transition, my friends and most of my family use my new name and pronouns and although the process is something I’ve had to be patient with, it does get easier and better with every day that goes on.
It may be 40 years since the rainbow flag was created, but Pride is still just as important as ever and I can’t wait to see where the community will be in another 40 years.
Jay Anderson, an 18-year-old trans man, recently joined the committee of Newcastle Pride in England. Newcastle Pride returns 20-22 July 2018.