Five words that changed an Airdrie transgender teen’s life for the better

Mitchell Plunkett says testosterone eased his anxiety and helped him feel comfortable in the world

By Leanne Murray | September 12, 2022 |5:00 am

Mitchell Plunkett is happy and thriving since coming out as trans six years ago.

Photo: Julie Butler

Six years ago, Mitchell Plunkett wrote down five words in a journal that would end up changing his life.

“I want to start testosterone.”

Plunkett is currently in Grade 12 at Airdrie Francophone School. He’s a happy and thriving 17-year-old, but that wasn’t always the case.

Plunkett was assigned female at birth and had a seemingly normal and happy childhood. 

However, Plunkett struggled with anxiety and other mental health issues.

“I guess I kind of always knew that I was a bit different from other girls,” he says, adding all of his friends were boys growing up.

An internal struggle and a huge revelation

Plunkett didn’t think much of it, but continued to struggle internally until he came across a video of a trans person talking about their journey.

“It was like a huge revelation,” Plunkett says, adding the video perfectly described how he had been feeling.

At the time, Plunkett shared a journal with his mother, Tammy. He says his household is very inclusive, so he quickly decided to come out to his mom in writing.

Plunkett jotted down that he wanted to start testosterone and Tammy read it.

“She was like, completely in shock, as she would be,” Plunkett says.

Plunkett says he is thankful to live in a very inclusive household.

The journey toward happiness

In a previous interview with Calgary Citizen, Plunkett’s mother said she went through a grieving period.

“At first it was shock and disbelief and denial. And then there was some bargaining and some anger and a good amount of sadness,” Tammy explained.

“But I did all of that in my own proverbial closet. I did my own processing away from my child because I knew I didn’t want my son to feel my emotions. He had enough to be dealing with to be brave enough to assert himself and say ‘this is who I am in the world.’”

Tammy described her son’s transition as labour-intensive — changing his name to Mitchell and ensuring people used his proper pronouns going forward.

Becoming comfortable in the world

Plunkett started hormone blockers about six months after coming out.

“That helped out with my dysphoria immensely, like I was elated,” he says, adding he eventually started taking testosterone, which further helped.

“Beforehand, I had a lot of really bad anxiety and stuff, like a lot of mental health issues, especially when I was younger. And then they all kind of just went away with testosterone.”

Plunkett says he has been a lot happier since his transition.

“I was just a lot more comfortable in the world.”

An important inclusive event

This past June, Plunkett attended a Queer Prom hosted by the Airdrie Pride Society (APS) and the Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie.

APS president Kiersten Mohr says they had been wanting to hold a prom for many years and were excited to finally be able to do it.

She says there are many reasons why 2SLGBTQ+ youth may not want to attend a traditional prom.

“It’s uncomfortable or they’re worried or they can’t go as who they want to go as,” Mohr says, adding they went all out with the Queer Prom and had decorations, food, cotton candy, a DJ, lights, and a photo booth.

It was a huge success, selling out all 150 tickets to youth in Airdrie and beyond.

“There was youth that came from Cochrane and Red Deer and all over the place to just come to a dance. Which is a commentary, I think, on how necessary and needed something like this,” says Mohr.

Plunkett and his mom, Tammy.

Acceptance means everything

The school Plunkett attends is very small — only seven students are expected in this year’s graduating class — so having a prom to attend was a big deal.

“It meant a lot to have a queer event that I could go to and be, you know, my true self and whatnot,” he says.

Plunkett’s mom volunteers as an APS board member, and Tammy says the event also meant a lot to her as a parent.

“It’s that acceptance. Knowing that in the community, he can just be who he is and shine and enjoy his friends and celebrate the same way every other child does. Acceptance means the world,” she says.

Plunkett hopes the Queer Prom will return in 2023 before he heads to university to work toward a bachelor of arts in psychology.

A long but rewarding process

While work obligations kept him from attending Calgary Pride, earlier this summer, Plunkett attended Toronto Pride with his mom, who was promoting her newly released book Beyond Pronouns.

He says the event was life-changing.

“Just seeing how immense the crowds were was insane. I did not think that they could get that many queer people in one spot, all at the same time. It was amazing.”

The Plunketts were able to share their story in hopes of helping others navigate through similar situations.

Plunkett’s advice for other transgender people is to persevere.

“Push through because it’s definitely a long process, but it’s very, very rewarding.”

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Leanne Murray

Leanne is a Calgary Citizen reporter.

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