Trans man pays tribute to Prince Charles for giving him the confidence to transition
A young transgender man has thanked Prince Charles and youth awards programme The Duke of Edinburgh Challenge for inspiring him to embrace who he really is and start transitioning.
In an exclusive interview with The Mirror, Luke Levine paid tribute to the member of the Royal Family, admitting that it was speaking to him and “seeing how involved he was with volunteering and how passionate he was” at 14-years-old that “saved [his] life” and assured him of person he was.
The 21-year-old recollected: “I’d never felt the same as everybody else but didn’t know why. It wasn’t until I started [doing DofE at school] that I realised I identified as a trans male.
“It was a very hard time for me but I realised people want to do good in the world,” he continued. “And that they wouldn’t be as dismissive of me as I thought.”
During his talk with the publication, Levine went on to detail how exercising and getting physically fit in preparation for the activities the challenge would throw at him had a positive effect on his emotional wellbeing.
“I had to go to the gym a lot to get fit for the activities and I started to want to get muscular. It made me realise that what I wanted physically, I also wanted mentally. I cut my hair and started taping my breasts.”
“It gave me a safe space where I could help relieve my stress. If I ever felt bad about my body, I just went to the gym.”
Founded by Prince Charles’ father, Prince Philip in 1965, The Duke of Edinburgh Award sees students all across the United Kingdom carry out a series of self-improvement exercises based on Kurt Hahn’s solution to the ‘Six Declines of Modern Youth’.
Set objectives are typically obtained in each of these areas; Volunteering, where the participants have to undertake some service that will benefit their local community; Physical, such as dancing, playing sport, walking, horse-riding etc; Skills, where students are tasked with developing a new special skill and Expedition, as they set off on a hike-turned-camping trip around the country.
Throughout the student’s school years, teenagers have the opportunity to get involved with the challenge at levels of increased intensity; Bronze, Silver and eventually, Gold. Levine completed all three grades and came out as transgender to his family a month before achieving his Gold award.
Back in 2017, photography-enthusiast Levine spoke at a DofE event in London that was hosted by Prince Charles’ brother Prince Edward.
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“I told a packed room of VIPs how my DofE experience literally changed my life,” he noted. “I revealed that I was a trans boy and was born a girl. Somehow, I don’t think what they heard was anything like they were expecting or had heard before.”
In May, Levine – who currently resides in Buckhurst Hill in Essex – began hormone replacement therapy. Now he is actively trying to raise funds for his top surgery.
Writing on his GoFundMe page, he explains that he has “decided going private is a better option” but that the costs for the procedure are expensive, ranging from £6500-£8000.
“I’m hoping to be able to pay for at least half the surgery myself after saving but need some help with the rest,” Levine explains.
“Please understand that this isn’t aesthetic and I’m not just doing it for the sake of it. This is 100% life changing surgery that I require desperately and cannot imagine living the rest of my life without it.”
Since its creation in April, the page has received donations totally £1606.