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Coming out on YouTube

Wed 11 Nov 2015 In: People View at NDHA

Kapiti College student CJ Puna recently won the top prize at the Wellington Pride Awards for her YouTube channel which gives others an insight into her life as a transgender teenager. The young Youtube star says she made the big decision to reveal her transition publicly, through YouTube, so she could explain to people how she felt and what it was like to transition, what things were like before transitioning and what she thought it will be like once she had transitioned. “Another reason was a way to come out to everyone around me. I found it very hard telling people who I was so I thought that I could just show them through a video to get all the main points across,” she says. The year 11 student says like many trans people, she’s always known she wasn’t in the right body. “All my life I always thought it was someone's fault that I wasn't 'like everybody else' or 'normal,' whether that is the person who put us here or my own fault, then I suddenly came to terms with it; This is no ones fault. “Nothing could have ever changed the way I am. It's just what it is. I announced it on Youtube and I was surprised with how much support I got from everyone at school. The messages poured in and I felt like I had truly done the right thing for myself. 'Coming out' for me was like I could finally show everyone the true me, no more hiding. My friends and family had all noticed how much happier I was, but mostly I had noticed how much happier I was, finally coming to terms with myself. “Ever since I was small I thought I was the only one. I used to wonder "why me, out of all people? Out of the 7.2 billion people in the world, why me?" By sharing my story to others I can try and let other people that they are not alone. To let people know that everyone is beautiful in their own unique way, it's good to be different.” For CJ, acting and filmmaking are her true passions, as a thirteen-year old she attempted to make a feature film. However, as everyone was going through puberty she says continuity was a bit of a challenge. Since then she’s learn a lot and made three short films that she’s written, produced, directed, starred in and edited herself. Online communities like those that can be found on Youtube and which CJ is contributing to are full of inspirational and talented people who have a lot to offer those in the margins. CJ says she looks up to Youtube Vloggers who are sharing something with the world. “I look up to many people who too, have taken the big leap of revealing their story to the pubic. For example Gigi Gorgeous! I feel as she has led her followers on a roller coaster ride revealing the ups and downs of her life. It is great to see how much respect she has.” Diverse representation of transgender communities is something which CJ hopes she can contribute to. “Everybody's story is different. Transitioning can be very hard for some and easier for others. “Some realise when they are in their 50s where others knew since they gained consciousness. Some take the big leap of transitioning at three years old where others are suppressed all their lives and finally gain the courage when they are 70. This is why I think that there needs to be a larger variety of transgender men and women stories online and in the media so the public can see these stories from a different point of view, to also bring to light that we are no different from any other human being.” She says receiving the Wellington Award was a great honour, “I was extremely honoured and overwhelmed to be nominated for the two Pride Awards, the Creative Achievements and Innovation award and The Most Inspirational Young Person of The Year Award’. “It was really touching to be recognised for doing something that I love.” This seems to be only the beginning for CJ who says the awards have given her the motivation to make more short films, continue to act and to make more vlogs.     Sarah Murphy - 11th November 2015

Credit: Sarah Murphy

First published: Wednesday, 11th November 2015 - 6:25pm

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