'A Topman voucher meant so much' Transgender teenager who found the courage to tell the world talks about the issues he has had to face

PUBLISHED: 17:02 23 January 2016

Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl

Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl

Archant

With transgender issues high on the cultural agenda – Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne has been tipped for further honours for his portrayal of an artist changing his identity from male to female in the much-praised movie The Danish Girl – one teenager has spoken about what it’s like to go through the process.

Lou WinnanLou Winnan

Lou Winnan, 18, revealed his transgender journey to the world through social media site Facebook just before Christmas.

Transgender, or trans, means someone whose gender differs from the one they were born with. In Lou’s case, he was born female.

And after years of being bullied, suffering depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and feeling stuck in his own body as the wrong gender, the Hertfordshire teenager once known as Louise has gained the courage to speak out about a once hidden topic.

He said: “I had my finger on the publish button of my Facebook status, I was so nervous and felt sick. It felt like that horrid butterfly feeling before meeting someone you like.”

Lou Winnan, aged 12Lou Winnan, aged 12

Lou came out as lesbian at the age of 13, started going to a barber shop instead of a hairdressers and began dressing as a man.

Five years later Lou is waiting to continue his journey.

He is planning to have surgery and to have his name legally changed.

He said: “When my mum used to put me in dresses I used to have a tantrum and refuse to wear them.

“I lost quite a few friends when I came out as a lesbian. Now I don’t see myself as a lesbian, I see myself as a straight guy.

“My nan was the first person ever to ask what to call me, whether to call me her grandson or not.

“My oldest brother got me a Topman voucher for Christmas. It means so much to me because it shows they understand.”

Others have shown their understanding in other ways. When Lou worked in a supermarket, he says colleagues were so supportive.

“My manager even said I should use the men’s changing rooms if that made me feel more comfortable,” he said.

But depression, envy and frustration are all part of the process.

He said: “I do feel like a man stuck inside a woman’s body. I believe in reincarnation so I believe that if I die I would come back as a man.

“A big part of this journey for me is helping others and raising awareness for the transgender community.

“I don’t blame people for not understanding, because it is a very difficult situation to understand and that’s what needs to change.”

Members of Herts1125 Who not What (WnW) have been working with Herts County Council’s Youth Connexions to develop support and guidance to young people who are part of the LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) community.

One of their first steps has been the creation of a website launched last year which aims to offer help, support and information.

You can find out more online by visiting www.youngprideinherts.org.

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