“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.
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.
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?