My name is Dex, and I am a 14 year-old transgender teen who recently lobbied Utah state Rep. Merrill Nelson and Sen. Ralph Okerlund about House Bill 153, which is aimed at keeping people like me from having our birth certificates reflect our true selves.

It was an honor to meet them, and I appreciated their time and willingness to listen as I tried to explain how this type of legislation would hurt people like me.

I think there are many people who don’t have a lot of experience or understanding of transgender people. I think it’s those people who are pushing to keep us from being able to change the gender on our birth certificates.

My gender shows up at school on my records, in the computer, on my schedule, on exams, and so on, and outs me to my peers. I try to hide my schedule from other students when they ask to see it.

I hear negative things said about transgender and other LGBTQ+ people all the time, and it puts all of us at greater risk of harassment and bullying.

I think that’s why I always feel anxiety at school. Waiting for school or class to start, in the hallway and when school is out and I’m waiting for a ride, I worry what might happen.

I don’t feel safe.

People decide and say negative and hateful things about me, and they spread their hate, when they don’t even know me.

People like me aren’t out to hurt anyone, and we aren’t trying to force other people to become like us. That isn’t possible anyway. I am not trying to bother anyone. Even though we just want to do our own thing, people can be very hateful, even though my life doesn’t affect them.

This is not something I chose. This is not something my parents tried to coach me into; we didn’t even know what it was. This is not something I did because I thought it would be cool or fun. This is how I was born, and I struggled with it from a very young age… really, as long as I can remember.

I never liked dolls, dresses or anything feminine. I gravitated to the masculine cloths, toys and things I liked.

But more than that, I didn’t feel right in my own body.

I thought, “Why do I have to be a girl, why can’t I be a guy.” I wanted that, but I didn’t know what it was, or how to express it. I thought I was alone, and the only one who felt that way. I kept those feelings to myself for years, and thought I was crazy.

Before my transition, I had struggled in school with my grades. I shut myself off and didn’t want to socialize or be around people. I spent a lot of time alone in my room.

I also struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide. After I began to transition, I felt happier and content with life. I enjoy socializing, and meeting new people.

I have a lot of friends now. My grades are much better; in fact, I have been on the high honor role every semester since I began living as a boy.

I love hanging out with my family and doing activities together.

I will soon get a driver’s license, and it will have my gender on it too. I don’t want the wrong gender on it, and I feel like it is an invasion of my privacy. It will out me every time I have to show it, which will expose me to possible discrimination.

For good reason, there are a lot of transgender people who have a hard time speaking up. I am willing to put myself out there, even though it puts me at greater risk and exposes me to hate, because I want to help make things better for others like me.

I believe a bill to prevent transgender people from validating their gender on legal documents is very hurtful, and does little to serve anyone else. I would like to see transgender people like me be able to put our true gender on our birth certificates and other legal documents.

I hope there is more love and support for all types of people in the future.

Dex Rumsey is a Northern Utah teen who’s interested in activism and helping the transgender community.