A transgender student has received a top award from Prince Charles.
The heir to the British throne presented an award to 21-year-old Jay Kelly on Wednesday (March 13), on behalf of his charity, the Prince’s Trust.
The nursing student was recognised as Educational Achiever of the Year 2019 at the Prince’s Trust Awards, after opening up about how he struggled with his mental health after transitioning.
Trans student opens up about mental health struggle
Jay Kelly explained that a youth activity programme run by the Prince’s Trust, the Fairbridge programme, gave him a new lease on life.
He said: “When I was 14 I realised I felt different to other girls my age and I began to question my gender.
“I made the difficult decision to come out as transgender a couple of years later, which my family struggled to accept as I began to live as a man.
“This, coupled with struggles with my mental health, meant I didn’t get the grades I wanted at GCSE and when I was studying to retake them, my mental health deteriorated further and I was hospitalised for four months.
“I was so anxious—I didn’t want to leave the house and the thought of using public transport to get anywhere was terrifying. I was self-harming regularly and couldn’t see a future for myself.”
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Prince Charles charity helped trans teen accept himself
The student added: “The Prince’s Trust Fairbridge programme was suggested to me and I saw it as an opportunity to change things for the better.
“I was nervous to begin with, but the programme pushed me outside my comfort zone and helped me start to believe in myself again.
“I’m now on a path I never dreamed I’d be on.”
“I no longer self-harm, my relationship with my family has improved and I’ve moved to London to study Mental Health Nursing at university.
“I’m really excited for what’s next!”
Prince Charles congratulated the student at the award ceremony in central London.
Others called Jay “an inspiration.”
“Congratulations Jay—you are an inspiration and a shining example of the impact of The Prince’s Trust’s work,” said Duncan Painter, CEO of one of the ceremony’s sponsors Ascential, adding: “We wish you all the best for the future.”