YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The story about one man’s journey to finding his authentic self and discovering his gender identity is not a story that’s heard often, but it’s one that needs to be shared.
While issues impacting transgender people are talked about in the news, we rarely hear directly from those people.
“I’m like this 24 hours a day,” said Jay Micheal Christy, a 25-year-old trans man from Girard.
WKBN 27 First News Anchor Erika Thomas met with Jay, who grew up as Jeanie, born Jeneva Rose in September of 1990.
Jay’s childhood pictures show his evolution from a toothless infant, through elementary, middle and high school.
“Oh you know, I gotta put on a fake smile and be happy, knowing inside I’m dying.”
The last time he ever wore a dress was at junior prom.
“I’m doing the whole dress thing, wearing makeup and high heels. I was like, no, I can’t do it anymore.”
Jay says he knew long before then that SHE was really a HE.
“Every time I looked in the mirrors, like, something didn’t feel right,” he said. “I was born in a female’s body but I was born in the wrong body. So I’m technically a male just stuck in the wrong body.”
Jay often feels alone, but he’s far from it. Researchers at the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA Law, just released a new report two weeks ago that says almost 1.4 million American adults are transgender, which is about 0.6 percent. That’s double the estimates from just a decade ago.
Looking at the state rankings, Ohio comes in 34th at 0.45 percent, with almost 40,000 transgender adults. Pennsylvania is just behind at 0.44 percent, with almost 44,000.
But Jay is more than a statistic. He’s a human being who struggles to stay upbeat with so many challenges in life.
“There’s a few times where I literally tried to overdose on pills so I wasn’t here anymore because I couldn’t do it,” he said. “I’m actually glad I’m alive because then I can tell my story.”
Jay battles depression and feels like people constantly judge him when he’s out in public.
“They see me, they think I’m a monster. I’m not. I am a human being that has feelings. I’m not an ‘it.’ I am a person,” he said.
Jay’s support system is made up of his friends, Brandon and Roger, and his cousins, godmother, mom and brother. Brandon is also Jay’s roommate and engaged to his cousin.
“It helps me so like, I’m not alone,” he said. “There’s days where I feel like I’m alone.”
“We support Jay completely, 100 percent,” Brandon said. “It is very hard and the depression takes over a lot, it really does. But you just got to keep uplifting, and you just got to keep them positive and keep the road on the right path.”
Not everyone supports Jay, though, and for those who don’t, he has this message:
“We have hearts, we bleed the same blood as you guys do. Yes, we’re in the wrong bodies but you’ve got to get to know us before judging us, pretty much.”
“Life’s too short to be unhappy. That’s why I love Jay, she’s not afraid to be herself,” Brandon said.
Jay is seeing a counselor and plans to legally change his name in the coming months. He also wants to start hormone replacement therapy soon as part of his physical transition.
Jay is currently working as a dishwasher at a local restaurant, but hopes to one day be a chef in his own restaurant.
If you are transgender, there are a number of resources available for you:
- National Center for Transgender Equality
- Ohio Name Change Laws
- Pennsylvania Name Change Laws
- Community support groups
There is also a monthly transgender support group meeting in Youngstown. Contact organizer Kage Jonas Coven at Kjcoven@gmail.com for more information.
Youngstown’s Pride Festival will take place downtown on Saturday from noon to 9 p.m.
Erika discusses this story in greater detail in a Facebook video, which is available to view on her page.