Interview: Blake Tyler Smith from Ilkeston on making the transition from female to male

Blake Tyler Smith, 20, is doing a 854 mile bike ride for a charity called mermaids.

Blake Tyler Smith, 20, is doing a 854 mile bike ride for a charity called mermaids.

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Blake Tyler Smith always knew there was something different about him.

Born biologically female people always assumed he was a tomboy when, as a child, he chose to play with boys’ toys over Barbies.

The 20-year-old from Kirk Hallam now lives life as a man after making the brave decision to change his name a year ago.

Blake, from Kirk Hallam, now wants to raise money for a charity that helps young transgender children and teenagers and their family’s cope and understand what they are going through.

He said: “When I look back on it now I realise I was different as a child. I realised I needed to do what makes me happy. I discussed it with my friends and family.

“My friends were ok, it took my family a few months to come round. My dad found the name change hard and I have a younger sister who is coming round to the idea of having a brother.

“I hadn’t discussed it with anybody at all before. I only knew four months before I told everyone - I had never heard of transgender but as a kid I knew something was up and then read about it on the internet.

“I feel like it’s becoming more known now and people are more accepting of the transgender community.”

Blake has told his story on a YouTube channel called Blake FTM which has videos including one called ‘My FTM Timeline 1995-2015’, which chronicles his change. As the images change to recent pictures the caption states ‘a few months ago, never felt more myself’.

In ‘My Coming Out Story’ he shares his experience of telling his parents. He said: “After months of hiding who I was inside I couldn’t really take it any longer.

“It was the hardest thing I ever had to in my life but a lot of good has come out of it. I am so much happier now.

“I text my dad and told him to come upstairs and told him ‘I don’t feel like a girl, I feel like a boy’. That’s hard for any parent to hear.”

Blake is now waiting for an appointment at the Nottingham Transgender Clinic where he will be able to discuss his options. He expects to hear from the clinic in Febraury as there is a waiting list.

“They have professional experts’, he said ‘some doctors don’t know anything about it so you have to have a specialist team to diagnose treatments. After a while they give you testosterone injections so you go through male puberty like male guys. Then in the future there’s surgery to think about, but I’ve got time to think about that - once you’ve done it you can’t go back.”

Blake, a former Kirk Hallam Community Academy pupil who works at Morrisons in Ilkeston, said since he came out as trans gender a year ago he hasn’t had the negative comments that he had feared.

Now he wants to raise money for a charity called Mermaids after reading about them online.

He said: “I heard about them when I was researching different areas. They help younger kids and teens with gender identity issues.”

Blake plans to cycle 854 miles on a static bike ride in his local gym over two to three weeks. The total distance is the length of the United Kingdom from John O’ Groats to Lands End. He hopes to raise around £500.

He said: “I used to be into cycling so I thought it would be a good challenge. I thought ‘why not donate some money to charity? It should take about two to three weeks if I do it most days.”

Blake has found comfort in the online transgender community and has a lot of online friends who are part of a Facebook group for people in the same situation.

To sponsor Blake log onto at mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/blaketysmith

More information on the charity Mermaids can be found by logging on to mermaidsuk.org.uk