I knew I was transgender when I was three years old but I didn’t come out until I was 18. My family didn’t want to talk about it which was really hard. So when I was 19 I moved out and got a place with Transform in Woking.
It was really decent. I had quite a few friends there, it was more like a family home rather than a hostel! It was a very supportive environment which was quite new for me.
I had to leave there to go and look after my dad. I enjoyed spending time with him but I really didn’t enjoy the place so I moved back to Woking. I was sofa surfing for a little while and then I ended up living in the woods for a couple of months. All I had was a duvet, I got quite wet most of the time. I was pretty worried about not having anywhere to live and I was panicking about what I was going to do.
"I intend to do great things with the life that Transform has given me, just watch this space!"
I found a homeless hostel which was only temporary but from there I was referred to another Transform project. When I got told I had a place I was quite relieved and happy! When I moved in I only had the clothes on my back so the room felt quite empty and echoey, but I love it now – it’s like my own universe.
I was quite unstable when I came to Transform the second time. I had a lot of mental health issues but I’d never been referred to any services or been prescribed anything, so I was quite unwell. The staff worked really hard to make sure I got the help I needed. My local GP surgery refused to prescribe me the hormones I needed for my transition. My keyworker at the time had to fight to get me the medication I needed. She eventually went to the Ombudsman and won which was amazing – there’s no way I could have done that by myself. When my keyworker told me that I would be getting the hormones it was a huge deal, it was such a long struggle!
"I feel pretty positive, life’s on the up."
Transform has pretty much helped with every part of my transition. They came to different appointments like doctors, meetings, implants, speech therapy – Anna has helped me with everything. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do it on my own, I would just get too nervous and never go out!
Now? I feel pretty positive, life’s on the up. I’m not messing up as much as I was. Before I was constantly drinking too much and getting into trouble or doing things that weren’t healthy. I’ve got my future planned out now I can think a bit clearer. My anxiety is a lot less than it was my depression is lots lots better. I would never have thought it was possible years ago but now I’ve got so much ambition for things that I want to do.
My next goal is to move out of here and get my own flat. I want to be independent and start a little business so I don’t have to rely on anyone else. I want to do everything myself, that way I haven’t got to have anxiety around dealing with other people.
To be honest I probably wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for Transform or I’d still be living in those woods. This was literally the last resort. So I intend to do great things with the life that Transform has given me, just watch this space!
Lauren was able to apply for a grant from our ID fund, available thanks to a generous donation from Unum UK Charitable Donations Committee...
There had been a few times where I had trouble with different things because I didn’t have any ID which had my legal name and gender on it. There were times I had to use my old name which was quite hard psychologically.
When I passed my driving test, I sent off for my driving licence and it come back with my old name and gender on it. I put off updating it because it was expensive enough to do the lessons let alone pay for a new licence.
Then Anna said that Transform was able to pay for it, I felt really good. I will never forget the day it got delivered. I opened the letter and I had to sit down to take it in! It was my first official ID since I changed my name – it was quite overwhelming. I was very happy to say the least – I’d waited a lot of years for that.
I’ve literally seen with my own eyes staff transform life after life. You can say it’s just a hostel but I’ve seen it time and time again – people come in here with no confidence and lots of issues and they leave much more confident. They leave with ambition and hope! Some of the people I met here are just totally unrecognisable now. Just one year can really change people, giving someone a room, even just for a few months can make all the difference.
Anna, Lauren's Keyworker
Lauren had been with Transform for a while when I started working with her. She had just started her hormone treatment. She was going through a lot of physical changes and she was sometimes pretty emotional.
Although Lauren is very self-reliant when it comes to running most of her life, she is very anxious and needs support to attend appointments. I’m getting much better at spotting when the anxiety is becoming overwhelming and have a good line in random conversation, usually asking for advice on car mechanics. She’s pretty wise to it now but it still works!
Lauren is growing in confidence all the time. She is much better at recognising that some things and people are just not worth her time and effort, which might sound a bit negative but is actually a real breakthrough. She has had difficult conversations with people close to her and said things that should have been aired years ago which I think has given her a real release.
There have been a few stand out moments during my time working with Lauren. The first time she came out of her first young people’s support group meeting at the gender clinic – she looked like a different person with the sheer joy of meeting other young people like her. Although there are groups around for trans people there is nothing for young people in this area and peer support makes so much difference. The second was when she got her driving licence through the Transform ID Fund with her ‘new’ name and photo. She was so overwhelmed she had to sit down in the foyer at The Crescent. It was very emotional.
Lauren has a real drive for success and has loads of plans for her future. Her dream is to build her own house on land she owns somewhere in the countryside and I wouldn’t bet against her. She is also talking about setting up a support group for young trans people in this area which would be fantastic.