Unapologetically Myself: Get To Know-And Hear-Lucas Segal’s Story

by Jose Soto

“I wish I was a boy.”

Those are words Lucas Segal, a 24-year-old transgender man living in Arkansas, recalls telling himself in the sixth grade, nearly four years before he started his transition. For Lucas, like many transgender and non-binary people, particularly at a young age, the sparse and inadequate visibility of other transgender and non-binary people limited his opportunities to fully understand his trans identity.

We live in a time of unprecedented transgender visibility. Transgender and non-binary people hold more public office and governmental positions than ever before. There are more trans people in television and cinema than there has ever been, and the same goes for sports. It is there, in that strengthened and vivid visibility, where empowerment is centered, helping others recognize and live their truth.

For Lucas, it was an intimate and emotional moment between himself and his mother that helped him realize his own truth. Lucas’ mother was showing him a video of Ryland Whittington’s story, crying as they both watched. Lying in bed, she told Lucas, while shedding tears, that she saw a lot of Lucas in Ryland. Unsure of how to respond, seeing how this was Lucas’ first time hearing the word “transgender,” let alone seeing a transgender person, Lucas told his mother he was gay, and did not claim a trans identity at that time. He had recently come out as gay, and, because of the lack of adequate language, he reconfirmed it to his mother then. He, having not yet transitioned, was dating a girl, and that’s where he was at in his transgender journey.

He was dating someone, and so he easily dismissed the notion of being transgender.

Having grown up in a small town in Arkansas, there simply wasn’t any social discourse around Lucas to provide him with the language and visual representation to fully make sense of who he was.

It wasn’t until a few months later, after having done some research and soul searching, that Lucas confirmed his trans identity.

He was at the beach alone with his mother.

“You were right,” said Lucas. “I just needed to come to it on my own terms.”

Lucas was 14 years old. The year was 2014.

With substantial support from his family, Lucas began to transition.

“I started to transition during the summer before my sophomore year of high school,” said Lucas. “At least with name and pronouns. Because it was over the summer, my family and I had time to get comfortable with that change at home. I then changed my name on social media.”

At this juncture, Lucas and his family found themselves exploring their options for gender-affirming care, with a focus on finding competent psychologists who could provide Lucas with the mental health services he needed to understand the intricacies of transitioning. Through age-appropriate, medically necessary care, Lucas began to comprehend his trans journey. Traveling back and forth from Lucas’ hometown to Little Rock, where he now resides, Lucas began to fulfill his emotional and physical transition into this true identity.

Once Lucas’ transition was complete, he found himself living within his own power, in his truth and ready to fight for his right to live authentically.

When asked about the impact of having received gender-affirming care in his youth, Lucas said it “made all the difference in the world.”

“They [medical providers] helped me take the steps at the exact right time,” said Lucas. “Nothing was too fast. It was at the pace that I needed it to be.”

And while Lucas was living his life as a transgender man the outside world now needed to catch up. To help them do so, Lucas and his family had complicated — yet productive — conversations with his school’s staff and faculty.

“I have to give a lot of credit to my mom,” said Lucas. “She had a lot of those hard conversations. My school struggled a lot. They had never dealt with a trans kid before, especially someone who was so unapologetically themselves.”

Finding himself in his own power and strength, supported by the gender-affirming care he received, Lucas began to advocate for himself by being openly and visibly trans and having candid conversations with his friends and fellow classmates.

“I was going to make a difference in my school,” said Lucas. “Once they realized that I wasn’t there to cause an issue or be a problem, we got on the same page and started working together to make a change. I hoped that the change would be sustainable, long past me.”

Years later, Lucas did see an example of change in his community when a girl from his high school also came out as transgender and he read supportive, positive and affirming comments on social media.

But Lucas’ experiences weren’t always positive.

During college, and later as he tried to join the military, Lucas’ trans identity presented hurdles and even downfalls. Lucas’ colleagues and peers weren’t always able to acknoweldge Lucas’ trans identity without having it be a hindrance. Neither his endeavors with the ROTC nor the Army Reserves panned out, mostly due to Trump’s anti-trans rhetoric and trans military ban.

That was hard,” said Lucas. “I wanted to live my life without fear of discrimination. It was degrading. It was like I was good enough for so many things; I can pay taxes, but I’m not good enough to serve my country. What makes me different from anyone else?”

Still, Lucas was persistent and committed to living his truth while also finding success.

Confidently, supported by the gender-affirming care that reinforced his identity, Lucas sought out a career in finance, and has found success.

“Having received the kind of gender-affirming care that I received has allowed me the luxury of being able to choose to tell people that I’m trans,” said Lucas. “To share that information with people in the professional workplace that I really trust and care about. I would be a shell of myself if I hadn’t received that care, it allowed me to reach my full potential. It’s given me the confidence to step into a workplace and make a difference in everything that I do. I’m in finance now. I’m able to sit and have conversations with people, do all the work that I need to do because I am confident in who I am.”

Lucas’ achievements are in part thanks to gender-affirming care. There are many other stories just like Lucas’. Still, legislators’ efforts to hinder trans progress in the form of hateful and discriminatory state legislatures directly targeting transgender people continue to try and make gender-affirming care inaccessible to transgender and non-binary people. Many of these state bills seek to outright outlaw gender-affirming care, especially for trans and non-binary youth, and many have already been enshrined. Currently, the Human Rights Campaign is tracking over 100 bills that would prevent trans youth from accessing age-appropriate, medically-necessary health care.

Recently, during the writing of this blog, in Arkansas, Lucas’ home state, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed HB1156, a new state law that will prohibit students from using school bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

“I’m sure that in 2014, when I started to transition, they were doing similar things,” said Lucas. “But being in my youth, I don’t think I always recognized it. But being an adult, if I was coming out as an adult, I would be terrified. Once you get into the justice system, it can create a lot of issues in your life, all areas of your life.”

While Lucas recognizes that, in regard to LGBTQ+ rights, especially trans rights, it feels like we’ve taken steps back as a country, he still is optimistic about the future, believes that better days are awaiting, and encourages us all to continue to fight and advocate for LGBTQ+ equality.

“Continue to be yourself,” said Lucas. “Continue to live your life and be true to yourself. Fight for yourself, if you can. Stand up for yourself. Change will come. I never would have thought, when I was in high school, that change would have come, but it did.”

Lucas now looks back at his life, as a young LGBTQ+ child, through his transitioning, and his advocacy work fondly, using his experiences to champion for equality.

“The path has to be walked by someone,” said Lucas. “I was fortunate enough that it was me, that got to be on that experience and got to help in making that change.”

Transgender people like Lucas and so many others are under legislative attacks while the trans community at large continues to experience high rates of fatal violence. It's going to take all of us, as one community, to defend our trans family. Join us and take a stand against vile discriminatory state legislation and violence against our community! Can we count you in?