Discovering himself

Junior feels acceptance from friends and family after coming out as transgender


Kelsey Jones

Junior Thomas McNeil talks with his friends during school on Dec. 18. McNeil came out as transgender in 2018 and is thankful for the friends that have stayed by his side.

High school is usually the time when students are discovering who they are and who they want to be, which isn’t an overnight occurrence. Junior Thomas McNeil can attest to this because it took him a lot of dedicated time and thinking to figure out why he was feeling a certain way and what exactly he was feeling. 

“I felt a certain way for a while, but I didn’t know what I was feeling,” McNeil said.

When he came to his final realization, McNeil came out as transgender. 

Before he was out, McNeil began to make a physical transition by cutting his hair in middle school. In November of 2018, he took an even bigger step in his transitioning journey by beginning to take hormones. 

McNeil says he had influences that inspired him to transition so that he could finally be himself. He watched Miles McKenna, a transgender YouTuber that shared his transitioning journey with the YouTube community. According to McNeil, seeing the before and after of the transition of McKenna was inspiring to see because it helped him find out who he was.

“Miles helped me because I watched him since before he came out,” McNeil said.

McNeil came out in November of 2017 of his freshman year. When it came to support from fellow students at SHS, McNeil says his experience wasn’t the most desirable. According to McNeil, the bullying was never directly done to him, but it definitely had the same impact on him that direct bullying would have had.

“It was kind of indirect,” McNeil said. “They didn’t say (insults) directly to me.” 

Though McNeil has had his fair share of people that were not supportive and didn’t understand him, he says that he’s also had many supportive and understanding people throughout this process. 

When he came out to his friend in middle school, junior Trinity Burgess didn’t really know how to react. She wasn’t knowledgeable about transgender topics, but over time she became knowledgeable and more accepting.

“I didn’t know a whole lot about the subject,” Burgess said. “I was kind of informed over the years, and now I know about it.” 

McNeil has the support of both his mother and his father. He also had friends that were supportive. When McNeil came out to junior Jessica Basey it didn’t affect their friendship in a negative way but made them even closer.

“So, he told me, and I was just like ‘Okay, that’s fine,’ and we just moved on from there,” Basey said.

 In the opinion of Jacob Fritz, McNeil’s former English teacher, McNeil didn’t expect to be treated a certain way or get special treatment because of his situation, even though Fritz cares strongly about fairness. McNeil just wanted to be treated like everyone else.

“He’s never pushing any kind of agenda on anybody,” Fritz said.