His name is Tom Sosnik. All through sixth grade, he says he struggled with his assigned gender identity. He hated being seen as female, but tried to deny his true identity and pretend to be something he wasn't. This ended up hurting him deeply.
In 2014, Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen, died by suicide. She left behind a note saying that even though she identified as a girl, her parents refused to allow her to transition. She revealed that her parents then brought her to "Christian therapists" who told her she was "selfish and wrong."
After hearing about what happened to Leelah, Tom says he was inspired to come out: "I really came to appreciate the support I have in my family and community that she never got."
"I'm no longer Mia, I never really was. And now I finally stand before you in my true and authentic gender identity as Tom," he said, standing in front of his family, friends, and community.
Tom says he understands how those who knew him as a girl may have trouble adjusting to knowing him as a boy. He offers to answer any questions they may have, but asks for them to refrain from looking at it as a "gossip-worthy" topic.
Why is Tom's speech so important?
According to a report by the National Center for Transgender Equality and The Task Force,
— 90 percent of transgender people report experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job.
— 41 percent of respondents reported attempting suicide.
A little support and understanding for the transgender community can save lives.
Watch Tom's impassioned speech.
Help him share his story.