by Ben Henschel
Auggie Hyde shuffled down the hall with the chipper smile of an optimist, or at least someone who felt at home. He did, mostly. Six or seven students gave him a hey and a smile, and he shot one back.
He spoke about his life without any sort of hesitation, even when the hard questions came. He kept his grin and cheer most of the time, but there was pain, too.
He’s felt more pain than most. There’s pain, and confusion, and a boundless effort to reach who he wants to be.
But at one point, he didn't feel like the work to be himself was worth it.
Little Auggie is what Auggie Hyde calls himself pre-transition. His birth name doesn’t matter to him.
Little Auggie had long, blonde hair. He grew up in Lawrence, in a neighborhood with “majority middle-aged lesbian couples.” From a young age, he got the impression that being LGBT was okay, and the community he was in made him feel comfortable. Still, something was off.
He felt too pressured to say or do anything about it. He thought his parents might not be on board with it, and didn’t want to hurt them or the bond between the three of them. So, he says, Little Auggie spent eleven years being discernibly insecure. He tried to “hide from who I know I [now] am.”
But it wasn’t like he didn’t know who he wanted to be — that was clear, and always driving him. Eventually, the drive beat the fear.
“I knew from the beginning [that I’d want to be a transgender man],” Auggie said. “It was more like I was confused as to why I was seen as a girl, because I was so confident in my knowledge that I wasn’t.”
So, after eleven years, he was done — with hiding, with being Little Auggie, and with the outdated idea of biological sex, the idea that you are what gender you were assigned at birth.
Three years, one month, three weeks and two days ago, he chopped off his long, blonde flow. He asked his parents to start calling him, “he,” and changed his name to what it is now, August Hyde.
The whole family had trouble adjusting at first, according to his sister, senior Iris Hyde. They’d forget the correct pronoun at times, and Auggie would nicely remind them.
“In the beginning it was really hard to remember sometimes, because I’d grown up with him and he’d been a girl,” Hyde said. “But after a few weeks, I didn’t make any more mistakes. He felt like the same person, really, and maybe even more of himself than before.”
Little Auggie had finally moved out.
Girls Rock Lawrence and LK Ultra
Auggie had so much support, he emphasized a handful of times. It stemmed primarily from a music camp called Girls Rock Lawrence. They’re working on the camp’s name to be a bit more trans-inclusive, he said with a laugh.
He arrived at the camp two years before he came out, and three years before he came out with a new name and pronouns. At the time, he was still Little Auggie.
The camp accepted anyone ages thirteen and up.
Okay, he thought. I can pass for thirteen.
“I was eleven at the time. I was like, oh, I’m totally thirteen, it was really easy to convince I think,” Auggie said. “But by the end of it, when I told them I was eleven, nobody cared.”
Auggie felt at home at Girls Rock. He made memories that won’t ever leave his mind, like when his counselor, Hannah, popped the the collar on her vest.
It said “f*ck” on it. It was by far the coolest thing Auggie, the eleven-year-old, had ever seen.
Beyond the memories, Auggie made a group of friends that helped him through his transition more than anyone else could. They were all older than him, naturally, but that wasn’t a bad thing. He enjoyed the age gap because he says they had more connections and experience — things he could always use.
Most of all, he enjoyed how accepting they were. As he began to think about coming out, he knew they wouldn’t exclude him. They’d stick with him. Later, when he said he wanted to change his name to August, they didn’t complain about messing up the pronouns. They said it was a cool name, and nothing really changed.
The group of friends, which began with a love for music, is bound together by that same love. They formed a band, LK Ultra — the “indigenous-fronted queer indie rock band from Lawrence, Kansas!” Auggie plays the keyboard.
“It’s such a great outlet, I really recommend music to anyone who’s struggling with emotions or identity,” Auggie said. “For myself and my identity, [the band’s] been a major part of feeling okay with myself, especially being surrounded by so many people who are so positive about their experiences.”
The band plays songs that are relatable to members of the LGBTQ+ community, and ones that, hopefully, help people get through the more difficult moments of their lives.
One song, probably Auggie’s favorite is called Two Spirit. It’s about different genders that are present in Native American culture, but it’s also about the intrinsic hardship faced by many LGBTQ+ members. Auggie says there’s almost always an audience member that comes to talk to them about how they cried during the song, or how they could relate to it.
And that’s the goal behind LK Ultra’s songs, according to Auggie.
“It’s so great to be able to get our message across and reach people with it, because I know for a lot of teenagers there isn’t really an outlet or ability to connect with it,” Auggie said.
There’s this one line, he says, that gets him every time. The chorus, “will I still be your girl when I tell you I’m not a girl anymore,” holds a special resonance with him. He felt that pain and angst when he began his transition, and in LK Ultra, he always a group he knew he could confide in.
They’d always be there for him in the toughest of times, Auggie says. And the toughest of times were yet to come.
Beating the Pain
Middle school wasn’t a love-hate relationship for Auggie. It was plain old hate.
“Deep hate. Profound hatred, haha.” He tried to hide the pain with a short and cheerful laugh, but left just enough unease to glimpse the pain he’d been through.
Auggie lost his core group of friends in middle school, and fell into an off-and-on depression. He got permission from the counselor to eat lunch in the library every day, alone. Once a week, a lunch club came to the library, and he’d socialize with them, or at least pretend to. He wasn’t Little Auggie anymore, but he’d never felt more lost.
Each day blended into the next, so time never stuck. It was all the same, and it was all dark. Eating disorders and self harm took over his life. He felt powerless, and he felt pain.
“It was a point in my life where I felt like I barely had any control,” Auggie said. “I felt this dysphoria, I always say it was feeling like an unwanted house guest in my own body.”
There was so much internal pain — he felt the need to channel it. Luckily, he said plenty of times, he had an array of resources to help him get through it.
There was always LK Ultra, and the music they played and the people they reached. It made him feel important and welcomed, and gave him a motivating reason to hold his head high.
Then there was the medication, and a look into his DNA that was very telling, he said.
Auggie ran a genome test, and found that he had the MTHFR gene — a gene that disables methylfolate production in the human body. When you have a methylfolate deficiency, it can cause all sorts of problems. For Auggie, it furthered anxiety and depression, so he began taking non-pharmaceutical, prescription methylfolate at the beginning of summer.
Auggie’s found a major decrease in his anxiety. It’s crazy to him — he’s dealt with that his whole life, and to feel it dissipate allowed him to focus on the more positive sides of his life. Again, he emphasized, he’s lucky to have access to it.
“From that point, I’ve stopped having major anxiety or anxious thoughts over small things,” Auggie said. “It’s not a cure-all, I still get anxious sometimes, but it’s allowed me to not focus only on the bad experiences I might have.”
Auggie’s felt an accepting and miscible community at East that’s also helped him break out of his depression.
He’s a member of the Gay Straight Alliance, which he says helps many students open up who’d otherwise keep to themselves. He counted on his hands how many trans people he could name at East, and got to thirteen — which he couldn’t be more excited about.
Art Club’s a must for him, since he’s always had art in his life to reflect on some of his emotions. He’ll spend a few hours canvassing or drawing to clear his mind. He’s grown to love Minding Your Mind Club, which emphasizes mental health and discusses how to improve your own.
Auggie’s so thankful for all of it — his band, his medication, the community he’s become a part of at East — and he’s finally found himself because of them.
But he understood firsthand how difficult life could become, and noticed some of the same signs of pain he felt in others. So he felt compelled to give back a bit.
Auggie’s trying to be there for anyone who needs a listener. Anyone who needs to talk, and anyone who’s been through similar difficulties.
He’s trying to be their catalyst — someone that can help those who struggle with finding their identity, find it. He’s there for people questioning their identities, or people who need advice, or people concerned about the consequences of their social choices, like he was.
But, most of all, he doesn’t want anyone else to have to hide from who they’re meant to be.
“It’s super important to have a person in your life to kind of look to for advice, who’s gone through similar things as you have,” Auggie said. “[Becoming who you are] doesn’t have to be a sad, scary thing. It can definitely be sad and scary at times, but I want to be someone people can talk to and get through it with.”
Auggie uses Instagram to connect with any of his 950 followers who have questions, no matter what kind. On his stories, he’ll leave a box where they can type in whatever they need to talk about. He’ll discuss mental health and details about his transition — whatever they’re feeling.
“He’s always trying to put himself out there for anyone who needs help, it’s really cool to see,” Iris Hyde said. “He always seems to understand what people are going through and how to help them.”
Auggie’s also starting a new club, and carrying his voice beyond social media.
In Zine club, students will be able to make their own mini-magazines with art and writing, spreading their own ideas and addressing their own problems with something more personal and tangible than a Tweet or post.
“You can really do anything with it, personally I’ve done a few about mental health and that stuff, but it really builds a great community,” Auggie said. “[Zines] began in the nineties, and they were kind of the blog before the internet where people could talk. It’s a good outlet to get through things.”
Auggie wants people to speak out, even if it’s not happy. He’s usually a positive guy, according to his friend, senior Audrey Helmuth. But Auggie only wants genuine positivity.
It’s not genuine if you don’t have both happy and sad moments, according to Auggie. He’s been through too much to think otherwise. He says being aware that you don’t always have to be positive is genuine, and that people shouldn’t be afraid of addressing the bitter moments of their life.
Auggie posts pleasant moments, like ice cream with LK Ultra on Mass Street in Lawrence, but he doesn’t hesitate to include the somber moments, either. Sitting, staring blankly beyond the camera under the loft bed in his candlelit room, or holding protest signs at a March For Our Lives rally in wake of the Parkland shooting are just a couple pictures on his Instagram feed.
Auggie says the difficulties East students go through aren’t all positive, either. He ensures them that they aren’t alone in their painful thoughts and feelings, and that he can be the person to talk to when it seems like no one else will.
He’s found his clubs and a friend group that fits him at East, but he’s sure that’s not the case for everyone. He knows people need to talk, including himself. So he’ll listen, and won’t ever hesitate to speak his mind.
Auggie does wear the cheerful smile of someone who feels at home. He does wear the warm grin of a trusting confidant, who just wants to help. He’ll sometimes wear the somber and wise cast of experience.
But when he needs to, he’ll frown. He’ll dig his heels in. He won’t move for anyone, no matter the hateful comments or tough looks.
He’s not just using social media and Zine club to connect with those in need of help, but he’s protecting his most deep-seated beliefs as well. The way trans people are treated, he says, kind of sucks.
The reinforcement of biological sex, the politicians trying to “define [transgender people] out of existence,” and the somewhat prevalent transphobic nature of certain people and even students. They’re all things that need to be addressed, he says — and he’ll use zines and social media to do it.
One of his first planned zine series’ is about what he considers East’s biggest problem to be: bathrooms. The most tackleable problem that’s the least looked at, according to him.
Auggie either has to use one of the three gender neutral bathrooms — all on the fourth floor, where he has no classes — or the bathroom of the gender he was assigned at birth. He was told that it’s “district practice.” The concept’s so weird to him.
“I feel like the one they always go back to is, ‘would you want somebody with a moustache in the women’s restroom?’” Auggie said. “Ugh, people look at it as so much more than it is. The people I’ve seen spend the least amount of time in the bathroom are trans people.”
Why? Simple, Auggie says.
First of all, it’s scary. You feel like you’re being judged in a pretty private place. Second, the bathrooms are gross. No one wants to be in there for a long time.
Even further, some of the hormones Auggie takes require him to drink more water than he normally would, so he goes to the bathroom more than normal. He says “district policy” makes this way more complicated.
Auggie says it’s, again, simple. He has to choose between following the rules and his own health, especially if he’s on the lower floors, where the majority of his classes are. He says he shouldn’t have to choose, but he’s forced to.
So he bends the rules a little.
“I don’t follow ‘district practice.’ I’ll use the men’s bathroom, I’m such a rebellious person, you know,” Auggie said. “There hasn’t been an uprising yet, there’s been no screaming, no fighting. Sometimes you get a weird look, but who cares? We just want to pee.”
Auggie says problems like these need to be addressed. They’re crucial to him, and even if they aren’t solved immediately, he wants to make them known.
Making things known is a common theme in Auggie’s life. His social media presence is transparent — his followers see the good and the bad. He doesn’t hesitate to answer most questions he receives, and he almost always answers honestly. He doesn’t hesitate to make his own voice heard, and he doesn’t hesitate to bring the problems he and all LGBTQ+ members face to light.
Auggie doesn’t plan on dropping that theme. Whether it’s the smile of an optimist, the understanding stare of a confidant, or the scold of a man relentlessly defending his most inherent beliefs — Auggie doesn’t plan on quieting down. Even if some don’t like it.
“Maybe people will have an issue with me and what I’m saying, or call me a lesbo,” Auggie said. “But calling me a lesbo? Wow, really hits me hard. Terrible. Oof. But if they do get physical or I get punched in the face — great. It’ll make a nice chapter in my memoir.”