As a young boy, Alice Castle grew up in Scotland wondering why boys could wear kilts but not skirts.That was when she was David, a boy with a gender that didn’t fit. But now as 22-year-old Alice she is free to be the woman she wants to be. She told the Daily Record: “I knew since high school there was something that felt limiting.
"I remember thinking ‘I want to wear skirts, skirts look cute’ but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I began to understand what transgender really means, and I realised, ‘yes, that’s me’. “There was never a moment I was stereotypically feminine, where I suddenly liked Barbies, even now I know I am not too feminine but I did come to realise that I identify with being female.”
When the time came to tell her family, she was prepared and although it took some time to adjust, they have been very supportive. Step by step she has made the transition, from wearing that skirt to changing her name. “I talked it through with my family when I had a clearer understanding of the person I was trying to become.”
Part of that was choosing a name and as a comic book fan she picked Alice, after the character Big Alice, a strong and tenacious protagonist in the Pretty Deadly series. She said: “Hearing people refer to me as Alice feels like the real me, more than my birth name ever did.
“At the same time, although I know I have changed and developed a lot since coming out, there are still formative aspects of my life, like my love of comic books, that are the same.” Apart from the challenges of being transgender, Alice faced the hurdle of overcoming chronic depression which set in when she was at her last year of high school.
“When depression reared its head, it was one of those things where I missed a week of school, then weeks became months and I had missed most of the year. “That turned in to me being bedridden and not having enough energy to even get up and shower and that really messes with your self-esteem. It became a spiral.”
Despite missing so much school, her intelligence meant Alice still left school with five highers. Instead of following her projected path to university, her illness and lack of work experience made it impossible for her to get a job. After years of unemployment and trying various college and work experience programmes, she was lucky to come across a job centre who recommended she go to an open day with the Prince’s Trust.
The organisers of the hospitality programme immediately saw her potential and offered her a place on a month-long work experience course, with hotels including the Marriot and Premier Inn. Within only days of working for Premier Inn, they offered her a job as a waitress, with the hope that she will keep growing with the company.
Alice said: “Being able to chat and interact with people all day was really invigorating for me, far more than sitting in an office.” When she explained her transgender journey to her new employers, they didn’t flinch.
“They have been incredibly supportive and I really appreciate that.” Now Alice can look forward to a promising future and she’s currently on the waiting list for a gender clinic in Edinburgh. Her next step will be hormone treatment and perhaps a complete sex change but that is a decision to be made later.
The Prince’s Trust transformed Alice’s life and gave her the confidence which had been knocked over the years. She said: “I knew I could do the work if someone gave me the opportunity but I had started to be really down on myself. Doubt had crept in, so having the mentors from Prince’s Trust in my corner, gave me a goal to fight towards.”
Alice said: “There is always someone out there who is going to need that help and so there should always be someone out there to provide it.”