Transgender teen’s brave interview inspires callers

Jasper Williams. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Jasper Williams. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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A CHARITY which supports young LGBT people has been inundated with calls after a transgender teen gave a brave interview about his transition.

Jasper Williams, who was born as Emily, spoke to the News about his experiences of bullying in a bid to encourage other people to report hate crime.

The 16-year-old’s inspirational attitude has attracted a raft of support from readers and charities who have praised him for his courage.

LGBT Youth Scotland, a Leith-based charity which has been working closely with Jasper, said it had received a number of phone calls from people who had read his story.

Callers told the charity that they had been inspired by Jasper’s honesty and maturity – and revealed that they wished they had been as confident to speak out at such a young age.

The fifth-year pupil at Drummond Community High – who has not undergone any surgery – had known he wanted to be a boy from an early age.

He plucked up the courage to tell his teachers that he wanted to be addressed as Jasper rather than Emily just two months ago but sadly he was subjected to “terrifying” verbal abuse on a bus, and taunting from classmates.

Foysol Choudhury, chairman of Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council (ELREC), said he wanted to “commend” Jasper and give him his full support.

He said: “ELREC believes that education is the best means of raising awareness of human and legal rights of LGBT people. It was disturbing to read that Jasper was insulted on a public transport.

“We are aware of the dangers of people being attacked on public transport and are putting together a Transport Charter to raise the awareness of young people to this problem.”

He added: “By speaking out, Jasper highlights the issue which will hopefully lead to greater understanding and acceptance in the wider community.

“Awareness and understanding is the best method for tackling the prejudice.”

Ann Marriott, partnership manager for the east branch of LGBT Youth Scotland, said: “We have had a number of phonecalls [about Jasper]. People have found the article very helpful. They’d wished they had known about it when they were much younger.”

Support has also flooded in for Jasper on social media, including from Edinburgh Western SNP candidate Toni Giugliano.

He said: “Finding confidence to speak publicly about #LGBT bullying never easy. Brave interview, well done Jasper.”

Meanwhile Karen Finlay said: “It is clear Jasper hasn’t any problem with gender, it’s the ignorant people in society the problem lies with.”

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com