Ben Hodges, 20, said his Catholic college had been ‘brilliant’ when he came out as trans. (Liverpool Echo/Screenshot)
A trans man who came out while attending a Catholic college received “brilliant” support, despite what many see as a conflict between religion and transgender identities.
Ben Hodge, 20, didn’t feel able to come out as a trans man at school – despite coming out as non-binary at 14 and using they/them pronouns.
It was only when he went to college that he felt comfortable telling his peers and teachers that he’s a trans man.
And despite attending a Catholic college, he told the Liverpool Echo that the reaction from staff had been “brilliant”.
“When I left high school and went to a different college, I saw it as a fresh start and was ready to come out. I realised I’m a lot more masculine and identified more as a male than I did as non-binary.
“In my new college I came out as a trans man and changed my name to Ben and asked people to start referring to me as ‘he’ instead of ‘they/them’ pronouns.
“My college were brilliant with it. It was a Catholic college but I never came across any issues.
“Even the Chaplaincy, our Chaplain was very supportive and allowed the LGBT group to meet in the Chaplaincy and was happy for me when different things happened with my transition.”
Consistently using the correct name and pronouns for trans people can reduce their rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts to almost the same levels as their cisgender counterparts.
Ben, who had known he wanted hormone therapy and top surgery since he was 15, said that having supportive family also made it easier for him to come out.
Even though they are supportive, it still took time, he said, for his family to come to terms with him being a trans man.
“When I was that age, there were LGBT people on TV and my parents never said ‘this is wrong’. If we asked them what it meant to be gay or a lesbian, they just told us what it meant and said ‘some people live that way and it’s okay’,” he said.
“So I grew up in a really accepting household – but the fact that I wasn’t surrounded by someone in my local area who identified as transgender and didn’t know anyone in Liverpool who identified as transgender made me feel like it was just me.”
Ben is now studying media studies at Salford University – the first person in his family to go to university.
Despite the difficulties that can come with the people’s response to being told you are trans, which for Ben included feeling depressed and suicidal, he says he wouldn’t change a thing.
“For me being trans is a big part of who I am but I wouldn’t want to be born cis [gender],” Ben said.
“I’ve learned so much and I think I’ve had a lot more experiences thanks to the things I’ve had to learn and the challenges I’ve had to overcome, the maturing I’ve had to do a lot faster than my peers. I wouldn’t change that.
“Something as simple as the thought that I can go swimming – it’s so simple but it makes up so much and it’s stuff people take for granted. I’m so lucky now to be in a position where I can just live my life.”
The Samaritans are the UK’s suicide reduction charity and their free helpline number is 116 123.
More information about supporting trans children can be found on Mermaidswebsite.