As an author, blogger and model, DAVID BEATTIE, 19, is also a LEADING VOICE in TRANSGENDER RIGHTS in Ireland and beyond …
On finding my voice: I’ve always had a very strong sense of what’s right and wrong and I’ve always fought for what I believed in, particularly when it came to my right to identify and exist however I wanted to. When I began transitioning, I found I had a lot to say about my experiences of the world. I thought the media represented being trans as a very negative thing, as though you automatically had an awful life just because you were born in the wrong body. I wanted to talk about my own experience which was very different from that so I wrote my first book (Who Cares) and it all grew from there. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t like the world you’re living in, you should do what you can to change it.
On style: This year I’ve started wearing dresses and skirts. At first, I think people were confused because I’m still identifying as male; they assumed I was on the verge of changing my pronouns, but I’m no more inclined to do so than I was previously. People have a lot of expectations and opinions about me and my style, but I resist conforming to them as much as possible. I spent so long fighting to be who I wanted, so I’m very happy that these days, I can just be.
On other’s response to transgenderism: I’m a very open and social person. One thing that can get annoying is people’s tendency to tiptoe around me. I know it isn’t always easy but I’d just rather people ask any questions they have and follow my lead on the rest.
On the medical process: Compared to other countries, the medical process in Ireland is good, but I still don’t think it’s great. The waiting lists are just too long and it’s really tough to actually begin your transition. It was hard not to be overwhelmed by the entire process when I started at 18. Luckily my family helped me a lot and I don’t think I could have done it without them. It’s strange to recognise the emotional changes that have come with being on oestrogen. I try not to place too much emphasis on the medical aspects because being transgender is a lot more about your own identity, but I can’t deny that I’m happier
being on hormones.
What I’ve learned: I’ve learned that I can do anything I set my mind to, which I’m very proud of. Since moving to Dublin and starting my transition I’ve been constantly working towards what I want and need in life and I’ve got some amazing opportunities from it. I think that it’s important to be your own greatest ally and I hope I’m succeeding at that.
Family support: I think a lot of people believe my transition is at the centre of my family but that’s not true. We’re all dealing with different things and we all do our best to support one another when we need it. My grandmother has been amazing – she’ll always see me as her grandchild no matter how I identify in the future. I know that my family worry about me and they’re understandably upset when they read nasty comments or messages, but they support and agree with my decision to speak out. That’s really important.
Extending my influence: Since I started my blog (www.laylahtalks.com), I’ve been blown away by the level of engagement I’ve had with a range of different people. I wouldn’t label myself as an influencer, but when you have people following your social media platforms, I think you have a responsibility. For me, that means sharing the bad as well as the good. I often talk on Snapchat about my mental health and my eating disorder. I also talk about my many experiences of sexual harassment and fetishisation that are unfortunately a part of my everyday work. I’d hate anyone to think that I was just showing my highlight reel.
On fear: I feel fear all the time; I just never let it stop me. I face a wide range of challenges and it would be easy for me to see myself as a target for all the abuse and harassment that’s hurled my way, but I’ve always been determined not to do so.
Beattie’s second book is Just Saying. He has a podcast, Tangerine Dreams, and writes for www.hamburgersnheroin.com.
As told to Penny McCormick.
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