Dylan Brandt, one of the roughly 2% of U.S. high schoolers who identify as trans, began his transition when he was 13-years-old. Chronicling bits of it on TikTok, he went from long blonde hair to appearing more masculine. With psychological counseling and under supervision from a pediatrician, he started taking cross-sex hormones by injecting testosterone.
He explained that as early as fourth grade he’d had confusing feelings that stretched on until his teenage years.
“I really wanted to cut my hair, like, really bad,” Brandt told 60 Minutes+ correspondent Seth Doane. “And so when I did that, that felt really good. And then I held the door for somebody and they said, ‘Thank you, sir,’ and I was, like, ‘Oh, yeah. That.'”
Brandt started home-schooling in eighth grade after being bullied and he said it’s been difficult to reconcile his mind and body.
“Your insides do not match your outside, whatever– like, whatsoever,” Brandt said. “And people are saying, ‘Well– well, you look like this, so you have to do this.’ That’s– that’s hard, especially when in the inside, you’re like, ‘No, no, no, no, no. That’s– that’s not right.’ I know I look like this, but that’s not how I feel.”
He revealed how he felt as well as he could in a letter to his mother.
“Dear Mom, to start out with, you aren’t losing the child you raised,” Brandt wrote. “I don’t know how to say this. I am a boy. I am a boy trapped in a girl’s body… I look at myself and I don’t like what I see. I wear the same five– four or five shirts because they are loose and it hides my chest area… Every time anyone calls me a girl or says “she, her,” I get uncomfortable. I feel good when someone mistakenly calls me a ‘boy,’ your ‘son,’ or ‘he, him.'”
“I thought back on him as a little kid and just him growing up that things started to make sense,” Brandt’s mom, Joanna, said.
While Joanna worried about how Dylan would be accepted by his community, their family immediately began adjusting, starting with pronouns.
“It took a little time. It took a little bit of time,” Joanna said.
Their family journey had been a personal one, until March of this year when debate began raging over Arkansas House Bill 1570 also called the “Save Adolescents from Experimentation’ – or “SAFE” Act.
When the law goes into effect, it would be illegal for Dylan to be prescribed testosterone in Arkansas and, without it, he would begin to redevelop some feminine characteristics such as breast growth. Other changes – like his deeper voice – are permanent.
“There were people that didn’t know us trying to tell me as a parent– what decisions I was allowed to make for my son,” Joanna said. ”And I knew how– how happy Dylan was. And how well he was doing with his gender-affirming medical care that he had been receiving. The idea of that being taken away just– I just didn’t understand it.”
The Arkansas state legislature voted to pass bill HB1570 in March. Days later, Republican Governor, Asa Hutchinson, vetoed the bill calling the legislation “a vast government overreach.” The Republican-controlled Arkansas House and Senate subsequently voted to override the Governor, on April 6th, passing it into law.
The law is expected to go into effect in July. The Brandts, along with three other families, are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU in an effort to block the law from going into effect citing it is unconstitutional.
This week on 60 Minutes+, Doane reports on the rise in similar bills being introduced across the country. See the story now, streaming only on Paramount+.