Korra and Manuel’s story
When Korra was 13, she began transitioning to affirm her gender as female. “I transitioned around the first year of high school… and that was one of the worst years of my life,” she says.
“I was dealing with peer rejection, just because children and teenagers aren’t always the most understanding people.”
However, it wasn’t only the bullying and harassment of her peers that contributed to Korra’s difficulties – the teachers at school didn’t support her against the discrimination she was experiencing. “I literally had a teacher say Boys will be boys in response to my bullying.”
Manuel has been a stepfather to Korra since she was 5 years old, and sees himself as her father: “I’ve taken on that role. Over that whole time, I’ve watched Korra grow into the beautiful woman that she is today.”
Manuel has supported Korra many times over the years. Korra says her transition was “a very traumatic time for all of us. We were dealing with the stresses of puberty, and also going through this massive change, in my life and my parents’ life.”
Legislation at the time required Korra to go through a long process with the courts to access gender affirming medical treatment. During this difficult time, Korra says Manuel “stepped up and told his story, and our family’s story, which was vital. It’s very much needed for dads, and those that are masculine-presenting, to step up and talk.”
Manuel agrees. “There was an enormous amount of pressure going into that process, it wasn’t a quick process by any means. We were putting in that application for several months, trying to prepare documents and statements for Korra’s solicitors, and that was a huge amount of work.”
Manuel says there was a wave of relief once it was done. “We didn’t realise how much it impacted us until it was all over. It was quite emotional. It’s even emotional to think about that period of time right now, because of everything that we went through as a family.”
Since then, changes in legislation mean young people no longer have to endure gruelling court processes to affirm their gender. “Korra was one of the last few transgender young adults to go through that process, and we were so relieved when they passed that law reform,” says Manuel.
In the years since, Manuel has continued to be a spokesperson on issues surrounding transgender policy reform.
“I believe it’s important to speak to members of parliament, as a father to a transgender young person, to explain some of the issues they face,” he says.
“Some of the things that we take for granted are so much more difficult to navigate for transgender young people.”
Meanwhile, Korra recognises the positive impact of the support she receives from her stepfather. “Support from my family makes me feel seen, and gives me the confidence to live my life unapologetically.”