A COVENTRY teenager wants to promote tolerance by speaking out about the trials he faced while questioning his gender.
Carter Moran, a 20-year-old from Coventry previously known as Courtney, decided he was a boy from an early age.
He told the Observer about the challenges he faced in his formative years, hoping for acceptance from family and friends.
He says he was violently bullied, and wants his example to shine a light on the emotional turmoil questioning one’s gender can cause.
When asked about growing up and wanting to be a different gender, Carter said: “It felt weird at first but I knew that I wanted to be a boy from the age of seven.
“I would wear my brother’s clothes and play football with my friends, who were mostly boys.”
Carter had a challenging school life at Stoke Park secondary school. He said: “It was a difficult time, I was bullied nearly every day.
“It started with name-calling but then got more physical.
“I had people throw objects at me and trip me over. People threw stones and once a flaming piece of paper.
“Some people who I thought were my friends decided to not be my friend anymore because I was getting so much negative attention.”
He said the bullying started when he was in year seven and continued throughout his life at secondary school.
He added: “I would say it was the hardest point in my life.”
He made the choice to wear a female uniform at school which masked what he considered his true gender.
Carter began testosterone treatment in April last year, having injections every three months.
He says: “The injections help with being more manly, so with facial changes and deeper voice.
“At the start I felt like I was treated differently because some people didn’t expect it. But as time has gone by and I’ve started my medication, people will identify me as male.”
Carter explained that he became male, mentally, when he was 17.
Asked about the reactions of those around him to his decision to change gender, he said: “My mum and sisters were fine about it because they always knew that’s what I wanted, but my dad and brother were a bit confused.
“My dad thought he was losing one of his daughters and my brother just thought I would be gay and not actually a boy.”
Carter says he has considered full body surgery which consists of ‘top surgery’, which is the removal of the breast.
Then ‘bottom surgery’ which involves constructing a penis made out of a skin graft.
When asked about whether he thought Coventry was an open and inclusive place, he said: “In the early stages I felt like Coventry wasn’t very accepting because people didn’t know my situation.
“Now I would say it is better because I am more accepted and I am able to tell my story.”
There were organisations which assisted him through turbulent periods and made him feel accepted.
He said: “When I was 16, I started off going to an LGBT+ group called Prism, which I went to when I was still female and decided that I needed more help.
“Then I went to Cams. Cams were very supportive. They were the ones who helped me come to terms with being transgender.
“Having the extra support helped me find who I really was and that was obviously a man.”
On the subject of his sexuality and relationships, he said: “I class myself as a straight guy who likes girls.
“I never actually had a relationship only because I wasn’t ready and I was and still am embarrassed to show my body sometimes. I’ve had crushes on girls but never really had the bravery to ask them out because I was transgender.”
He has recently been accepted to the Wasps rugby club’s Hitz Programme which provides a platform for around 2,000 disadvantaged young people per year to attain coaching qualifications.
He said: “Wasps has helped me a lot. I never had the confidence to talk to new people because I was different.
“It also allowed me to better myself in different situations. I have gained new friends and I am now working to become a coach.”
He said his goal was to help others in his situation to speak about how they feel and not to be scared of the end results.
He said: “I want my story to open other people’s eyes and make them realise that everyone is different.
“It is okay to be different. Don’t be afraid to speak about how you feel.”
Susie Green, chief executive of Mermaids, a national transgender charity, said: “Mermaids has seen a huge increase in the numbers of families and young people coming forward for support over the last couple of years, which indicates that being transgender is being more widely discussed.
“Unfortunately, as Carter experienced himself, we are still seeing prejudice and discrimination, with children being subjected to daily abuse.
“It is no surprise that the Stonewall Survey in February 2017 highlighted suicide attempts for transgender youth at 45 per cent, and self-harm at 84 per cent.
“This is unacceptable, and we need to continue to work hard to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance of transgender children and young people.”