OPINION: Phoebe Waller-Bridge is proof it’s okay to change your mind
Last week, Phoebe Waller-Bridge revealed in an interview on the American network, NPR that she ‘desperately wanted to be a boy’ when she was younger. Cue the inevitable reaction from certain members of the press. Within hours, articles appeared implying the actress and writer was lucky to have grown up before the days of trans awareness because...well...she would have been forced to take medication and identify as a boy for the rest of her life against her will, right?
One of our young people, Sarah, wanted to explain that, then as now, it’s actually just about exploring who you are and there’s nothing wrong with changing your mind:
Hi everyone! I’m Sarah. I’m 17 and from Wales and I’m trans but working it all out still. Anyway, I read the coverage of what Phoebe Waller-Bridge said. It’s like they’re implying that if she’d been a child exploring her gender today she’d have been forced into something but I’m not sure what.
It sounds like she was able to call herself Alex and shave her head and just be herself at that time so her parents must be pretty cool. Maybe that’s partly why she’s such a good writer and actress now. She got to understand herself so much as a kid.
That’s what Mermaids has done for me: let me be myself and find out who I am in a safe place with support and no judgement or expectations or anything. That’s what Phoebe did. Then she hit puberty and decided she was a girl in the end and guess what...there’s literally nothing wrong with that! I know that if I ended up realising I was non-binary or not trans in a few years then that would be fine too. I mean, Mermaids is just about allowing me to find out who I am now and worry about tomorrow...tomorrow.
Sometimes when I’m reading things in papers and online, it’s like they think children and young people like me are being forced to say we’re trans and to sign some kind of contract to say we’ll always be that way. It’s not like that.
Just like with Phoebe, I’m working myself out and there’s no pressure. My mum and everyone who supports me would be totally cool if I changed my mind about stuff. What matters is that right now I’m a young, trans woman. I’m not a cis male and being able to say that saved my life, really.
Phoebe Waller Bridge was lucky to be allowed to explore her ‘Alex’ side and I’m lucky to be supported but lots of kids don’t have understanding parents like that and it’s really sad and frightening for them.
Some of the reports today make it seem like trans children are being pushed to say they feel a certain way but it’s the opposite. I’m a trans girl because I’m a trans girl. Simple.
If Phoebe Waller-Bridge had been a kid today, maybe she’d have been my friend at Mermaids and there would have been no difference to her journey. She’d have been Alex for a bit and then Phoebe again. She’d have been supported, just like me.
I’m still on my journey but the important thing is, I’m able to be the person I feel I am right now and that makes me feel safe and strong...or stronger anyway!
Thanks Phoebe, for talking so openly.