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  • Rain Preece (he/they)

I’m working to be the representation I never had when growing up LGBT+ in Wales

Hello, Shwmae. My name is Rain. I chose my name myself. I wanted a name that wasn’t particularly tied down to male or female. This is because I am transgender. This means that my gender isn’t the same as the one that was assigned to me at birth. 

I was born in and have always lived in Wales. I live in Cardiff and feel very lucky living in a capital city because it is such a diverse place. 

I first discovered the word ‘transgender’ when I saw a snippet of a documentary on the TV, in which a young man was describing what it was like, from his perspective, to be trans. It really hit my younger self hard, although I couldn’t quite figure out why at first. In the end, it took me a year to realiwe that the reason I felt emotional was because I related to the experiences he was describing. He discussed what it was like to look at pictures of himself when he was younger, and how he had felt like he couldn’t fit into his body. I related to this a lot, having had similar difficulties as a child. 

At school, I heard very little about sexual orientation, and certainly nothing about trans people and gender identity. I was also never taught that it’s OK to not experience, or experience only little, sexual attraction. As someone on the asexual spectrum, growing up alongside other teenagers who do experience sexual attraction made me feel really confused, and angry at myself for being even more different. 

Along my journey, at the age of 15, I was diagnosed with Autism, and I also really struggled with my mental health; in fact I still do. By 16, I had been diagnosed with ‘gender dysphoria’. Despite my age, I was referred to an adult gender service. This was because of the extremely long waiting times for these services in Wales, and in the rest of the UK, so there was no chance that I would get an appointment before my 18th birthday. Waiting was difficult, with little support, but with the help of a counselor I managed to come out as trans to my parents. 

When it came to choosing my new name, as I wasn’t comfortable with my previous one, I asked my family to help me pick. It was really fun having them on board with this as it included them in my journey, and it felt like I’d overcome a big milestone.

Though there were many struggles growing up as an LGBT+ person in Wales, the things that made the difference for me were support, community and representation.  

I was finally seen by the Welsh gender service when I was 18, and I joined Just Like Us as an ambassador in 2021. Being an ambassador enables me to deliver talks to school pupils about what it’s like to be LGBT+. The talks are so powerful because young people are able to hear from people not much older than them, rather than characters or celebrities on their TV screens. I love volunteering because I feel like I’m genuinely making a difference to young people in the UK, helping both young LGBT+ people and their non-LGBT+ peers. 

I’d love for there to be more Just Like Us ambassadors in Wales. The charity’s research has shown that LGBT+ school pupils in Wales are the loneliest in the UK. This is really sad to hear but I think we can change that. If more Welsh people joined Just Like Us, and delivered these talks to Welsh schools, I think we could all make a big difference for the next generation of young people growing up LGBT+ in Wales. 

Rain volunteers as an ambassador for Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity. LGBT+ and aged 18 to 25? Sign up here! The next ambassador training session will be in Cardiff on 13 and 14 of April. 



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