Mathew inspires acceptance

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Briana FioreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
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Mathew Maguire is on a mission to spread awareness and help people feel comfortable in their own skin.
Camera IconMathew Maguire is on a mission to spread awareness and help people feel comfortable in their own skin. Credit: Briana Fiore/Briana Fiore

Mathew Maguire likes hanging out with his friends, he likes the beach and he likes helping others. He’s just an ordinary 17-year-old teenager.

Mathew also happens to identify as a transgender man and uses he/him pronouns.

He decided to share his coming out story during Pride Month, in the hope of spreading awareness and celebrating diversity.

He believes sharing stories about minority groups could help save lives and encourage others to simply be themselves.

Matthew said he knew he was assigned the wrong gender from the age of three.

I remember liking blue utes and always wanting to wear khaki pants.

Mathew Maguire

He a likened the feeling to “staring at yourself in the mirror and not recognising who is looking back at you”.

“It’s horrible,” he said.

While sex refers to biological attributes, gender encompasses the socially constructed roles, behaviours and identities of people.

He said it “meant the world to him” when people called him Mathew and all he wanted was “acceptance”.

He mustered up the courage to come out at the age of 14 after skipping school for weeks on end and battling with his identity.

“I wrote a note, then threw it in the bin and wrote another,” he said.

“When I finally had what I wanted to say, I slid it across the table to my parents and ran to my room and cried.”

Mathew also lives with cerebral palsy — and this was something his mother believed could make life even more challenging for him.

“She said I was already part of a minority group and was worried about me changing my name too,” he said.

“It took her 11/2 years for her to call me Mat, but she accepts me and loves me now.”

Mathew said it hurt him when people used his “dead name” — the name used by someone before they transitioned.

He said other derogatory terms like “tranny” should also be avoided.

Mathew said opinions were for whether someone liked pineapple on pizza and that trans rights were not up for debate.

To help other kids struggling with their identity, Mathew decided to start a diversity club at his high school, Eaton Community College.

I just did not want anyone else feeling the way I did in Year 9.

Mathew Maguire

“I’ve had younger students come up to me and thank me for starting the club and making them feel accepted.”

Mathew was awarded the Citizen of the Year at a recent graduation ceremony for his efforts in pioneering the club and paving the way for future LGBTQIA+ individuals.

He hopes to become a counsellor to help people navigate through difficult times.

“It’s OK to be different,” Mathew said. “It’s OK to be yourself.”

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