Clara Fethers was 17 and in Year 12 when she asked others at her high school to call her “Luke” and address her with male pronouns.
The former Canterbury Girls’ Secondary College student came out to his peers in a public post on Instagram in 2017. The post stated he was transgender and would like to be called ‘Luke’.
“You might see some hairy legs in the corridor and hear my breaking voice,” the post said.
Fethers was hesitant to come out on social media as he was afraid of seeming “attention-seeking”.
“I knew I couldn’t be called by my birth name and female pronouns. So I just decided, ‘I have to do this’,” said Fethers.
“He showed so much courage,” Luke’s mother, Melissa Fethers, said of her son’s request that the school call him ‘Luke’.
He received support from his peers and was voted ‘Formal King’ by his year level at the Year 12 Formal.
The school embraced the name ‘Luke’, but staff were used to addressing their class as “girls”. “It was a challenge for him, but he was very graceful about it,” said his mother.
The uniform is a dress during the summer, and a blouse and skirt in the winter. Shorts and pants are offered as alternatives to the dress and skirt respectively.
Fethers felt uncomfortable wearing the pants as they were a ‘feminine cut’. He wore the shorts throughout the year against the school dress code and received a detention each week.
Fethers’ began taking male hormones in 2017 to assist his gender dysphoria, a condition where one’s personal gender feels the opposite to their sex at birth.
“The hormones are like a second puberty. Imagine that when you’re already going through puberty,” said Fethers’ mother. “It’s just an amazing cocktail of hormones.”
Fethers began the process of his transition in addition to focussing on his Year 12 studies and being the school’s Flynn House Captain.
“Every day I battle the question that I unfortunately make the centre of my universe; ‘Am I man enough?’” said Fethers.
Then 17, he had to decide whether he wanted to freeze his eggs before taking the hormones.
On dealing with this combined stress, Fethers said: “There were so many times … when I thought I would have a heart attack…I would just go to the (school) sickbay and sleep”.
“He had so much to deal with and he navigated it so well,” his mother said .