When Corey Rae was two, she asked her mom for a Cinderella dress and Barbies. But it wasn’t until she was 12 that she read about a ‘transgender’ person and realized, that this is me. Now, she is helping other young people become themselves.
Corey Rae doesn’t say that she was born, ‘a boy.’ “And I wasn’t born a girl. I was born transgender. And that in itself is very real. This is how I was made, and created, and out on this earth for a reason,” she asserts.
Rae, now 25, shares her story through her writings and was recently honored at the BlogHer Summit with a Voices Of The Year Award, and is dedicated to helping and uplifting other transgender people and children. “My biggest message right now is you can do anything you want… as long as it’s with good intentions,” she tells HollywoodLife in an EXCLUSIVE interview. “I’m trying to be there for children that don’t have someone else. For LGBT, gender non-conforming, binary, trans, cis gender… I don’t care how you identify, I want to let you know whatever you’re going through is fine.” And Rae means what she says. She responds to everyone who reaches out to her on her Instagram, imcoreyrae, looking for advice and support. She herself was lucky to have a mother who was always ‘a warrior’ for her.
She “just said, My kid wants Barbies and dresses, and makeup and that’s that,” Rae explains. But when Rae became 10 or 11, she became confused about what and who she was. “And I remember realizing what gay was, and knowing that I was being perceived as a boy, but the word just didn’t fit. I was like, am I gay? But I can’t be gay, because I’m not a boy.”
It wasn’t until she happened to read a People magazine that had a story about a teenage transgender male and she read a sentence about being ‘trapped in the wrong body,’ that it hit her. She read and reread the story for the next couple nights, and then finally went to her mother and said, “Mom, I want to be a girl.” And her mom said, ok!
Nevertheless, for Rae and her mother, finding medical help wasn’t easy. Psychiatrists refused to see her. “There was no Caitlyn Jenner, and Laverne Cox had just started her career, but I didn’t see her everyday on TV. There was no one for me to see as an example… no success stories that said — “Hey, this is transgender, and you can have a beautiful, amazing life and love an support, no matter what.”
It took three years before Corey and her mother found Dr. Margie Nichols, who founded the Institute for Personal Growth, in New Jersey. Dr. Nichols diagnosed Rae with having gender dysphoria and being transgender, and she began the process of transitioning at 15.
She went on hormone blockers, grew her hair out and seven months later was crowned, the transgender prom queen at her school. “I just kind of started my transition really slowly and over time people got the hint… everyone had always felt a feminine energy from me, so when it started to happen, people realized, “Okay, this is what Corey is.”
However, despite the acceptance that she had in high school, Corey went to college, ‘stealth’ as she describes it. “I never told a soul for five years, that I was transgender,” even though she had her surgery just after her freshman year of college. While transgender TV star Jazz Jennings, 18, has described feeling ‘euphoric’ after her surgery, Rae describes her immediate post surgery experience as a ‘release.’ What really made her finally feel complete, was actually a visit to a Victoria’s Secret store where she put on a bathing suit.
“I bought my first thong and bathing suits. What kept me going through the recovery process was, “I’m gonna be in a bikini. I’m gonna have sex. And that all my friends bought me all this underwear. And everyone was so supportive. It’s ironic that it was Victoria’s Secret that I have a story with, but it made me feel like I was finally my true self. The person that I had been daydreaming of since 5th grade. I’ve become that woman.”
She admits that it’s odd for her to say that she is her own dream come true. “I pictured a Barbie, this blonde girl with pretty eyes and big lips, and I wanted that life… it’s very weird that you can manifest something… but if I could change genders, anything is really possible.”
Corey reassures other young transgender people that there is support out there. “You might not ever get a supportive family, and you might not ever get your church or temple to change their mind, and you might lose all your friends, but there is a transgender support center within a bus or car ride today.” Plus, there are social media leaders like herself who speak out their experiences, and can be role models.