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I am who I am, says transgender teenager

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Something changed inside CaVon Raynor when he turned 13. Suddenly, he “just didn’t feel comfortable being a guy”. CaVon tried to push the feelings away but they grew stronger. “Up and out of the blue I just wasn’t comfortable in my body any more,” the 17-year-old said. “At 15 I spent more and more time thinking about it. I talked with my friends at school about changing genders but they weren’t particularly for it. My girlfriend at the time said if I did it, we couldn’t be together any more.”

Today, the teen regrets consulting them at all but back then, friends were a priority. The issue was put under wraps until after enrolment at Bermuda College last year.

Finally, the teen - who now uses the name Peyton - had space to be herself. It was time to start dressing more femininely and come to grips with being transgender and bisexual.

Peyton does not wear dresses or skirts but her jeans and tops have a decidedly feminine cut.

“A friend gave me my first bra,” said the teenager. “At first it was uncomfortable wearing it, but now I feel like I’m not dressed without it.

“In February I joined Raleigh Bermuda and we were in camp. I felt really comfortable and I told the group.

“People I’d spent just one day with were super supportive.” Peyton began posting photos while dressed in feminine clothing on social media.

“At first I kept those pages private, then I thought, ‘I am who I am’,” the teen said.

The posts were quickly spotted - not just by friends but also by family and friends of family.

Some were outraged and accused Peyton of disrespecting relatives. One person suggested the teenager should be beaten.

“It was a very difficult time,” Peyton said.

But nothing they did made the teenager hide back in the closet. The teenager is determined to embrace life, no matter what people think.

Peyton has found friends inside and outside the LGBTQ community in Bermuda who provide emotional support.

“When it comes to matters of sexuality I don’t think it is much of a choice,” the teenager said.

“You are attracted to who you are attracted to. Whether you are 4 or 40 you can’t decide on that. The way your brain works and is wired, it is like that because that’s the way it is.

“When it comes to gender, a lot of what we see as gender behaviour is socially constructed.”

The teenager adopted the name Peyton last year.

“I never liked CaVon,” the student said. “Peyton suits me better and it’s more androgynous.”

Again, some negative feedback was received from family members. “People were talking behind my back,” Peyton said.

But she insisted she had nothing to be ashamed of.

“I’d rather receive backlash for being who I am than be accepted for who I’m not or who I’m pretending to be,” she said.

One day the teenager would like to have sexual reassignment surgery. For now, it is out of the question.

“It’s pretty expensive so it would probably be a while before I could afford that,” Peyton said.

“I know the road to get there will be rough, but it will be worth it in the end.”

The teenager is thrilled that Bermuda might finally be taking steps forward in its acceptance of LGBTQ issues.

Winston Godwin and Greg DeRoche’s landmark ruling last month paved the way for same-sex marriage.

“I was at a friend’s house when I got a message about it on my phone,” Peyton said. “I just couldn’t believe it. I started tearing up.

“Then me and my friend screamed because we were so happy that it was finally a thing. Bermuda managed to progress that one step, rather than just being stuck the way it was. I am all for it. I am super happy for the couple involved.”

The teenager joined in with the LGBTQ community’s counter-protest to Preserve Marriage’s rally at Parliament last week.

“I forgot my camera that day,” Peyton said. “But I just wanted to enjoy the moment anyway.”

The teenager is planning to move overseas when she is old enough to pursue career opportunities.

“I want to travel and do photography or film-making,” the art and design student said. “A National Geographic photographer would be the ideal job. I love nature. The move wouldn’t be because Bermuda is so conservative. No matter where you go you can get people who object to the way you live.”

Right now, Peyton is looking forward to going to Nepal with Raleigh Bermuda next month.

Rough road to acceptance: At 13, Peyton “didn't feel comfortable being a guy” but kept trying to push the feelings away (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Peyton Raynor with the transgender flag (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)