Voice: Leo Costa

Sophomore Leo Costa talks about his experience transitioning from female to male during high school in this Voice feature, told from the first person.

Cash Martinez, Reporter

My name is Leo Costa, I’m transgender, and I use he/him pronouns. What it means to be transgender is having your biological sex differ from your gender. If someone was born female and they felt like they were a male, then they would be called transgender because how they identify doesn’t correspond to their biological sex. For me, realizing that I was trans was gradual. It really started in middle school, when I was experimenting with gender and sexuality. I had come out as gay. I’ve slowly kind of realized that the reason it didn’t feel right to me wasn’t because I’m straight, but because I’m male, not female.


Photo by Cash Martinez

At first, I remember that I was really afraid to tell people to their face. I probably would’ve come out to my friends at school before I came out to my family, but I have siblings at Casa, so if they heard it, they would have been like, ‘Wow, ok, that’s a shock.’ So I had to tell my parents first, and I was so scared that I had to write a letter, just because even if they were going to accept me, it would still be a shock, when someone you’ve known as your daughter or as your sister for all this time is suddenly not. At first, there were people who would kind of tease me about it. I wouldn’t call it bullying, but kind of just poke at me about it. I think what I’ve kind of found out about it is that people are more likely to talk about you in a bad way or be rude to you online than they will in person. I’ve gotten rude things said to me through social media, but nothing really said to me in person, so I’m not really afraid of them because if they’re not brave enough to say it to my face, then I shouldn’t be afraid of them. It was hard when my family would misgender me, and it was difficult at first, but we’ve slowly adapted to it. I’m just happy that everyone is accepting.

I got a binder a few months after I came out. It’s kind of like a tank top that compresses your chest, to make it appear like you have a flat chest, like males normally do. I went to go see a gender therapist to get a letter written to the hospital in San Francisco so I could start talking testosterone. I’m still seeing the gender therapist, but my parents don’t believe I’m ready yet to take it to the next step. I feel like I’m in the position where I do need to start taking it, and they aren’t in the same thought process as I am. I think that I just need to take time to fully convince them that this is who I am and this is who I want to be.  

I wouldn’t be mad at people who don’t understand gender dysphoria. I don’t think anyone can really understand what it feels like unless you’ve been through it, but it’s a really sick feeling. It’s like if you got a really bad grade on a test, but you know you did well and got all the answers correct because other people got the same answers correct. They got 100 out of 100 correct, but you got 2 out of 100 correct even though you had the same answers as they did. It’s like how I know that my body isn’t right. I think that everyone gets a little bit of body dysmorphia, but with gender dysphoria, it’s more intense and all the time, even in little things like going to the bathroom or being in PE. I would say that if you’re transgender, don’t rush it. I think that I came out before I was ready, because I was sick of hearing the wrong name and I felt like I had to. If you’re going to bully someone or be rude to them about being transgender, it’s kind of like stop and think that if I was in this situation and I was having a really difficult time, I wouldn’t really appreciate it if someone came up to me and asked ‘Does your birth certificate say this?’ If someone doesn’t accept you, you just have to let that go and move on, because it’s really you that matters.