Meet the Prom Queen Who Grew Up Trans But is Now “Just a Girl”

June 30, 2015
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by Jason M. Breslow Digital Editor

It was just a generation ago when adults, not children, were the ones at the center of the transgender movement. But today, as transgender adults like Caitlyn Jenner gain broader acceptance, children have begun transitioning too.

Among this first wave of children to make the change from one gender to another is 18-year-old Lia Hodson — a high school prom queen who is about to begin her sophomore year of college.

Hodson’s transition was gradual. Born a boy, she started wearing “girlie t-shirts” and skinny jeans when she was little, and by middle school she says she started to take things further. She grew her hair long, bought her first dress and began thinking more seriously about her true gender identity.

“When I was younger, I didn’t really know what transgender was,” says Hodson. “I guess I’m a guy who’s just really feminine,” she says she told herself. “And then, as I kind of like learned more and saw more, I was like, oh yeah, like no, I’m a girl.”

Hormone blockers — which until 2007 were not even an option for transgender children in the U.S. — helped make her transition all the more complete, allowing Hodson to avoid ever having to go through the male puberty process. About a year after starting blockers, she moved on to estrogen, which helped give her body a more feminine appearance.

When FRONTLINE met Hodson while filming Growing Up Trans, which premieres tonight on PBS (check local listings), she was just getting ready for college. She was also preparing herself for a long awaited sexual reassignment surgery.

“I’d like to have the correct anatomy,” Hodson told FRONTLINE in the below video, the first in a series of Facebook first mini-documentaries related to Growing Up Trans.

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“I don’t think that surgery is going to magically like change anything in my life,” Hodson says. “It will just make me feel more comfortable with my body and myself.”

And feeling like herself is exactly the point, says Hodson, who says she doesn’t want her entire life to be about being transgender.

“I don’t really identify as being trans. I’m just a girl, I’m just myself,” she says. “I don’t really like making it a big deal. I just feel like myself. I feel comfortable and I feel like a woman.”

For Lia’s full story — and an in-depth look at the often-controversial treatments now available to transgender and gender non-conforming children — watch Growing Up Trans starting tonight at 10 p.m. EST either on-air (check local listings) or here on the FRONTLINE website.

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