Charly Walsh is a 16-year-old from Gisborne. This is his story.

Key Points:

As I look back on my life, I often wondered why things never seemed quite right. As a child, I did all the things little boys did. I cut my hair short, hung out with all the other boys. In fact, I thought girls were gross. Not once did I think this wasn't normal. When I started kindergarten, I began to notice that people were treating me differently to all of my guy friends. One day we had a special day at kindy where we could get our hair styled all fancy. I was really excited. So, my friend and I lined up and got ready. My friend went first and got his hair all spiked up with gel. I thought this looked awesome so I asked to have the same thing done. But the teacher just laughed and told me to stop being silly. She gave me pigtails. I didn't really understand. When at home, I loved nothing more than to surround myself with music. I really did try to participate but it just never really seemed to work. I did have friends and I did enjoy school, but everything just seemed a bit off. Basic things were hard for me. Like using the bathroom. I tried the boys bathroom and was told to get out, so I tried the girls bathroom and was told to get out of there too. I was five. From Year 1 to Year 12, I did not use public bathrooms at all. School swimming, PE, athletics days, cross countries, pretty much anything involving gendered spaces made me very uncomfortable and I wrote a lot of fake injury notes just to get out of having to get changed. Primary school passed and as I got older I grew more and more aware that I was different to the other kids. I was really excited about intermediate, but... I was put in an all girls class. I made some amazing friends in there, but just wasn't comfortable at all. Everything was feminine and I didn't really feel welcome. I started feeling really bad about myself. My attendance dropped a lot and by age 11 I was at CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) dealing with depression. I changed classes the next year and had a really good time. Then came high school... I had no friends during my first year and by Year 10 I'd had enough. I knew something was wrong with me and I didn't want to deal with it anymore. I ended up in hospital because I was a risk to myself. I spent two weeks in Gisborne hospital and two weeks at Wellington hospital. When I was released I felt a little bit better being equipped with exercises to help me deal with anxiety but I still didn't know what was wrong. In Year 11 my therapist said she thought she knew what was happening. She asked me if I thought I was a boy. My whole life literally flashed before my eyes - haircuts, changing rooms, and why my subconscious addressed me as "he." I AM a boy. Now in Year 12, I am openly female to male transgender. I am on testosterone. My name has been legally changed from Scarlett to Charly and I am scheduled for top surgery. In August, my parents and I started working through the court system to get a new birth certificate with my new name and a gender change. On the 13th of November 2015, we won. When I receive my new birth certificate, it will read male. I have many friends ranging from gay, straight, to bi, and trans. My parents and my family have accepted me for who I am, and I know that there was never anything wrong with me. I can promise you that you will always have support from someone. I end this article with a quote from a favourite song of mine:

Sometimes things will bend you, But trust me you'll be fine, I've been moving mountains that I once had to climb. And life's not out to get you, Despite the things you've been through, Because what you give is what you get, And it doesn't make sense to make do.
- Gold Steps by Neck Deep
It is not a phase. - Gisborne Herald Where to get help:Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7) • Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7) • Youth services: (06) 3555 906 • Youthline: 0800 376 633 • Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7) • Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm) • The WordDepression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7) • Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155 • CASPER Suicide Prevention If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.