Taylor Nikora says he’s finally free after years of feeling like he was trapped in the body of a girl.
He’s currently undergoing hormone treatment and takes fortnightly injections of testosterone.
“Your body aches because it’s growing, it’s like growing pains. I’ve had heaps of things change like my hairline has started receding, my hair is thinner, my voice has dropped. I’ve gotten more facial hair and hair all over my body,” he told Māori Television’s Native Affairs.
The 19-year-old was born Shanyse Nawrocki and has always struggled with gender and identity issues.
“Around 12 years old I had confusion. I thought I liked a girl but wasn’t sure if it was possible or if it was a thing”.
Unsure what was wrong and unable to get help, Taylor’s grandmother Lynn Nicholls says it’s been tough.
“The breakdowns were quite severe. It was a challenging time because he didn’t quite know who he was. He was wanting to come out. I thought he was just a rebellious teenager throwing his weight around. I didn’t realise or comprehend what was happening with him”.
Taylor’s school in Whanganui, Te Kura o Kokohuia, was a great support to Taylor during the most difficult times.
Principal, Tuhi Smith says they tried to understand, allowing Taylor to wear a boys uniform.
“He was our niece, nephew our moko, he was ours. It was irrelevant whether he was in the transition of being trapped in a girls’ body he was our whanau".
Taylor says his struggle was affecting his mental health.
“I was seeing a counsellor and I talked to him about it then I was referred to another counsellor and talked to him about it then I was referred to another person it felt like I was going around in a loop. Then I finally got a social worker who had dealt with someone like me before and knew where to go".
To start hormone therapy, an individual has to wait until they are 18. Then they go to a psychologist where they are assessed for six weeks.
The school did support Taylor through this process by allowing the school bus driver to take him to see the psychologist in Palmerston North during school time.
Taylor has since left his school and is studying toward a degree in social work. He is also saving towards gender reassignment surgery, which is not available in New Zealand.