For people who are born to the wrong gender, life can be a tricky and treacherous path. Not being understood by family and friends, while not receiving vital support from local authorities tasked with that job; being transgender can be tough.
When Kasey realized he was really a man he decided to go through the proper channels in order to get the hormone therapy he so badly wanted and felt he needed. But when he couldn’t get the help he required, Kasey took things a step further…
For transgender people, those transitioning from biologically female to male, testosterone supplements are a vital part of the process. And while Planned Parenthood does offer such supplements in liberal-leaning states like California, that was not the case until 2016 in states like Florida.
Last year, Planned Parenthood expanded their horizons, offering their resources to minors, many of those in their early teens. As Dr. Suzie Prabhakaran, vice president of medical affairs for the Southwest and Central Florida explained, “Our motivation for expanding this was actually driven by parents who were calling us,” adding, “They were having trouble finding access to where their transgender children could start hormone therapy.”
While more than 600 people received hormone treatment from centers in Florida, roughly half of those were under the age of 18, raising some questions. However, as Prabhakaran noted, “Every patient has a different path, but for the vast majority of patients, starting hormone therapy is the first step. For some, it’s all they want or will be able to do. Fewer patients go on to have surgery.”
Too Little Too Late
For Kasey, who used to be called Casandra, the assistance from Planned Parenthood was welcome, even if it did come too late. Kasey had wanted to start hormone treatment years earlier but was only able to start doing so at the age of 19. Having been a gay woman originally, Kasey didn’t know much about the transgender community at the time…
Growing up, Kasey attended River Ridge High in New Port Richey, and at the age of 15 discovered a blog written by a person who had gone through hormone therapy in order to become a man, “I knew right then,” Kasey recalls. “There was no denying what I am after that.” he said.
No More Fear
Kasey got just the boost he needed from that blog, and soon after reading it, found himself walking up to the front desk at his local Planned Parenthood center during his Freshman year at the Florida Gulf Coast University, “I walked right up to the desk and asked what kind of resources they had for the transgender community,” Kasey said, “She handed me a dusty old pamphlet that was so bad.”
Making A Difference
When Kasey read in the pamphlet he was handed that it still described transgender people as “hermaphrodite” he decided that enough was enough. With that in mind, he actually got a job at the FGCU wellness center and started hosting forums to bring transgender issues to the forefront of the community.
It was a far cry from his old stigmas back home in El Paso, but Kasey still wasn’t totally comfortable. Sure, nobody was calling him Casandra but he still looked like a woman, even though he dressed like a man. “When you’re not ‘passing,(as the opposite gender)’ people notice,” he said. “It compromises your safety.”
Holding It In
The issue surrounding transgender people, especially when it comes to which public bathroom they should use is a real one. Kasey explained, “It’s something you have to think about wherever you go. So I don’t use the bathrooms on campus. I just hold it until I get back to my dorm.” He said.
As Dr. Diane Straub, a pediatrician and division chief of the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine pediatrics program explained, hormone therapy causes a lot of complicated changes in the body, “There are kids out there who know. They know that they are in the wrong assigned gender, and I think they know that when they’re very young,” she said.
For all it’s benefits, testosterone does have some long-term risks associated with it. Over time, for example, it can damage the liver and other organs, “It’s a big step to take hormones, and you are biologically altering your body,” Straub said. “For kids who are gender fluid, it’s important to stress that their development will be forever changed by this.”
Kasey was more than thrilled with the testosterone treatment. After months of high dose injections, his breasts were starting to shrink and he stopped having periods. Kasey was even able to grow some facial hair and his voice became a lot deeper as his body shape began to change…
Home For Christmas
“I was home for Christmas and I knew the next time they saw me, I was going to look different,” he said. “My dad told me that day, ‘I’d always be his little girl.’” Kasey had to take comments like that, as well as many others from his dad on the chin, “I know they love me, even if they don’t understand.” He said.
After Kasey was hired by his friend Nikki Kirdahy to work part-time at the school’s prevention and wellness center, the place he had originally received the outdated transgender pamphlet from, he became passionate about his job and spoke to anyone and everyone who would listen to his views on gender…
Found His Place
“I struggled to find my place here at first,” Kasey said. “There’s a huge gap between the students. So I wanted to fill it.” And fill it he did as Kasey gained much popularity as well as a bunch of new friends for his efforts. Kasey had finally found a place where he shone.
Back in the early part of this year, Kasey was thrilled when he was asked to host a “trans 101” public forum where fellow students could ask difficult questions anonymously. When almost 100 people showed up to the event, Kasey almost cried with joy at the popularity of the event…
Kasey just kept getting better and better as he then started to guide nurses on how to appropriately treat transgender patients if they came across them. He also initiated and led programs regarding sexual assault within the transgender community.
Taking A Toll
While Kirdahy confirmed that the antiquated pamphlets have now been updated to more modern and fitting leaflets, the job definitely takes its toll on Kasey, “Comments are made, and they can be hard on him,” she said. But that doesn’t stop the very determined Kasey from living his life and doing his job to the best of his ability…
There’s no doubt that Kasey Fraize is a people person and as such an asset to the transgender community as well as to his college, “He still goes out every day to teach people. So the next time they encounter a trans person, they might treat them with a little more kindness and not make the same mistake.” his friend Kirdahy said.
For the time being, Kasey’s main concern is undergoing an operation to remove his breasts which he is currently saving up for. As far as the future is concerned, it looks bright for Kasey who wants to pursue a career as a public health advocate and educator. But first thing’s first as, “For now,” he said, “I just want to create a space on campus where other trans students can feel safe.”