By Shannon Lane @Shannonroselane
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Videographer / director: Adam Gray
Producer: Shannon Lane, Ruby Coote
Editor: Beth Angus
Lyslie Barrett from Iowa knew he was transgender at a very young age.
The 19-year-old said: “As a child I think I was more of a tom boy than I ever was girly girl.”
Lyslie came out as transgender to his mother Sue when he was 11, with a handwritten note.
Sue said, reading out the note to Barcroft TV: “Dear mom, just breathe. I wrote you this note to tell you the truth. So here it goes. I have never liked a guy in my whole entire life. I like girls and I am so sorry if I’ve disappointed you.
“Every day, I wear those big shirts so people don’t see my boobs and I will not grow into it. I will just get more and more uncomfortable.
“So, mom, I am coming to you. As your daughter, I am asking you, can I please do this step, in transgender and be a boy?
“Please just don’t be mad at me.”
She added: “You were the same person before you wrote the note as you are after the note. I just don’t see how some parents can’t love their child no matter what.”
Lyslie began his transition with a mastectomy when he was 16, funded by the local community and help from his mother.
Sue said: “We had a bake sale because my insurance didn’t cover the mastectomy, so we had a bake sale at work.
“All the people I work with made stuff and sold it some of the stores donated it and then we had the GoFundMe page where people would put money on there.”
Lyslie said: “My mom has definitely done a lot through supporting me. She has almost really done it all.
“My transition was underage so she would do everything like get me to the doctors, get me therapy.
“She really did basically it all, and emotionally she was always there if I needed it like talk or anything so she really was there for it all.”
When Lyslie turned 18, he began preparing for his phalloplasty, the procedure to create a penis.
The first operation was a full hysterectomy, the removal of the uterus.
Lyslie said: “It was the right move and the hysterectomy was rough but it was a step forward to getting the recent surgery, you have to do the hysterectomy to do the phalloplasty.”
In November 2018, he had a phalloplasty of which he is still recovering from.
He said: “So the process with phalloplasty is they take skin from my arm but they use that and make this the penis and with that they then cover it with more skin so they will usually take that from I believe the thigh.
“My surgery was around 11 hours, which is very long and I know that when I woke up I had two catheters.
“It was a very tough surgery, I know they tell you that it is going be very hard to recover.”
Since his transition, Lyslie and his brother have been spending more time together working out and playing sports.
His brother, Shaun, said: “I don’t feel like I lost a sister, just the way we grew up together it was just like we were friends the whole time.
“After Lyslie transitioned we started to do more sporty stuff together, training for rugby and other sports together.”
Lyslie has documented his transition on Tumblr, and helps others going through their transitions.
He said: “I started [Tumblr] back in 2013, and I just really wanted get it out and show people my journey because at that time, there was not really, anybody going through this transition and I wanted to be one of those people who showed it.
“So I thought okay, if there wasn’t going to be something for say me then I can at least be that somebody else, and I can show other people the situation that I am going through.
“I just wanted to help other communities as much as possible and I think I have done a pretty good job at showing people the transition that I have gone through.”
His mother added: “I know when he was in college and there were kids up there that were having issues and somehow they had found Lyslie through his Tumblr and they asked him if he could come and speak to these students and help them feel comfortable.
“He could be a good motivational person.”
Despite transitioning and having complete gender reassignment surgery at such a young age, Lyslie has never had any doubts about his transition, and is thankful for his mother’s support throughout.
He said: “I never actually had any doubts about my decision, I knew from a very young age who I was so it was definitely by the time I started this is who I am, this is right.
“I by far would not have been able to do it without her I mean, at such a young age, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to but mentally I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her as well.”