In an ever-evolving world where acceptance and understanding are becoming more prevalent, the LGBTQ+ community continues to face unique challenges, whether it is their coming out journey or fitting into the queer community. In a world where self-discovery and authenticity are celebrated, the path to finding one’s true identity can be transformative and deeply personal. We had the privilege of sitting down with Akir, a 17-year-old, who was assigned female at birth, and is now a courageous and inspiring transgender individual, to delve into his unique journey of self-realisation and growth. From the challenges he encountered to the triumphs he achieved, his story offers a profound understanding of the experiences and resilience of transgender individuals.
Akir first came out as gay in 2019, and once he understood that part of himself, he felt the need to immediately tell his family and friends. “I never really felt the need to hide things from my parents and it never crossed my mind that this could be something they wouldn’t accept,” Akir says. Once he did come out, it was very difficult for him because the environment that he had grown up in didn’t have any exposure to the queer community. “I was openly gay in a catholic school. I would hear people saying “lesbo” as they would walk past me, and it was very hard,”. In peak lockdown the next year, Akir came out as transgender and had to come out to his parents, because he had no choice. It was hard for them to understand, according to Akir. “We had a lot of fights after that. They couldn’t understand what I was going through and I couldn’t understand how they didn’t get it,”
Over the years, after a lot of discussions, their relationship is a lot better. Even though it is still an ongoing process, he says that they’re open to learning more about who he is. “A few months ago, my parents spoke to my extended family about this and even though they didn’t understand it either, it felt good knowing that my parents were comfortable enough to talk about it to the other people,” Akir says. He also talks about how staying in the closet made him reevaluate every relationship he had with people. “I’d think, you wouldn’t love me the same if you knew who I was. But once my parents talked to our extended family about it, it felt better knowing that whatever love they give me, it is after knowing who I was,”
Being open about his identity, Akir says that he has also had a lot of people reach out to him to talk about what they were going through. “People have had really bad experiences with coming out and they tell me about their mental health through all this as well. Even though I can listen to them and support them through it, I have to tell them to go to therapy and get professional help because I can’t do anything to help the situation, and I think that’s one of the hardest things about this,”
When asked about what advice he would give to other people in the community who may be going through similar situations mentally and emotionally, Akir tells people to wait before they come out to their parents. “Don’t eliminate the opportunity to play the long game, because, during your initial stages, you need people who support you and understand you and you need to give your parents the time to process this as well,” “It took me four years to get to this stage with my parents and I feel like I should’ve given them more time. So, take your time to get them used to the idea and then tell them, otherwise, it’s not going to turn out that well,” says Akir.
Talking about a message for the allies, Akir says that it is easy to be an ally if you’re open to understanding and supporting the people in the community. However, it is important to give the person the benefit of the doubt even if you don’t understand. “Everyone’s going through a tough time, and even if you don’t understand or accept the entirety of it, just be there to support them, even for the thing that you don’t understand.”
Akir’s journey is a testament to the strength and resilience of transgender individuals who navigate the complexities of self-discovery and acceptance. His story reminds us of the importance of empathy, compassion, and inclusivity in creating a more accepting society. By sharing his story, we hope to inspire others to embrace their own identities and to foster an environment where everyone feels safe and supported in expressing their true selves.
In conclusion, the journey of self-discovery and growth is a universal experience, and Akir’s story serves as a powerful reminder that embracing one’s true identity is a transformative and empowering act. It is through stories like his that we can continue to foster a more inclusive and accepting world for all individuals.