Alex Anthony, having never had surgery before in his life, is about to undergo a procedure known as top surgery. It's just one step of many that Alex has taken in his journey to feel like his true self.
Though the big moment is full of anticipation and excitement for Alex, he also has some worries. He has been watching videos on YouTube of other people in the trans community who have been in his shoes. "In all the videos I watched up until now to prep for this, I've never seen anyone be like, 'Oh, you know, this is the negative side of it.' Or, 'This is what I'm feeling. I'm feeling loss in this area.' And so for the past week, I've been thinking of memories or times when it didn't always feel so ugly. I'm like, "Why am I feeling this way? Is this feeling normal? Is this right?"
Ever since early childhood, Alex knew that he struggled to fit in. "I always felt different," says Alex. "I lived in a really small town where like LGBT things weren't talked about, so I had no idea or ever thought to myself that that could be my future, so it just tore me up for a while."
Later in his teenage years, Alex discovered the trans community online - on both Tumblr and through videos on YouTube. He felt an immediate connection, and in 2011, began posting videos himself to YouTube, looking for answers as he struggled with his gender identity.
The community and information available was able to open Alex's eyes to the possibilities, but he feared that it would be impossible for him to do, based on potential lack of friends or family support. "I can't introduce my dad to my girlfriend because he's so homophobic and unsupportive, so I felt like it was unreachable. I had finally found an answer and I would never be able to do it."
Alex was able to find some support within his family and friends, and so he decided to move out and begin testosterone therapy, which he documented on his YouTube channel. After a year long transformation on testosterone, Alex decided he was ready for another step - top surgery.
"I want people to see that not every story is the same, but I think also to keep in mind that not every trans person wants what I do," he says. "I think with Caitlyn Jenner and a lot of the trans celebrities that are in the world for us to look at, it very much paints this idea that taking hormones and having surgery equals trans. But I have a lot of friends who aren't healthy enough to take hormones or who don't want to have surgery. These things don't equal trans; you can be trans without them."
"Before I had the surgery, I was still a man and now that I've had it, I'm still the same person, it's just I feel more comfortable."