The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Finding identity after 15 years of searching

Photo courtesy of: Jake Rostovsky

Jacob Rostovsky, known as Jake, may look like an ordinary college student. However, his trials and tribulations distinguish him from most students at CSUN. Jake has undergone a change of gender – he was born a girl.

Named “Julia” by his parents, Jake has lived with the insecurity of feeling one way on the inside and appearing another way on the outside.

Now a 19-year-old sophomore psychology student at CSUN, Jake has struggled several years with the comprehension of his own identity. At the age 12, he realized he was transgender. Julia was a typical tomboy, choosing cars over dolls.

“I acted the way I felt in my heart, but that was not always accepted,” Rostovsky said.

Julia was bullied and harassed throughout high school. It came to the point where she lived in constant fear; she even received death threats from other kids at school mostly from the upperclassmen.

At the age of 12, Julia was raped by a fellow student. The boy was intolerant of her behavior.

“He told me that he wanted to show me what I was missing, and make me realize I was a real woman,” Rostovsky said.

In ninth grade she had to quit school.

“This was a very difficult time, because I am a social person,” Rostovsky said.

The same year, Julia met a boy who was different, in a way she had never seen in another person before. He told her he was transgender.

“I looked the word up, and realized that was who I was. It was like a wonderful door opened up to me. I was not alone,” Rostovsky said.

Julia immediately told her mother what she had discovered. She realized then that her mother had known all along that Julia was transgender, but wanted Julia to discover it for herself.

“My mom cried of happiness,” Rostovsky said. “She knew I had been struggling with depression. I had even attempted suicide more than once. She knew this would give me a new perspective. Her first words were, what took you so long? It was like the weight of the world was lifted of my shoulders.”

Julia’s father had a hard time accepting her decision to change her gender.

“He told me I was dead to him,” Rostovsky said.

But his love for his child persevered, and he eventually became used to the thought of having a son instead of a daughter.

Julia used the first year after discovering her state of gender to inform family and friends. Most of her friends were supporting. Since Julia had always been a tomboy, it was not that difficult to understand.

“A few of my friends could not accept it,” Rostovsky said.

The transformation from Julia to Jake took two years. He was then a boy of 15. People who do not know Jake’s incredible story, probably cannot detect that he was once a girl. Jake looks like any other young man. His path in life has not been easy, but it made him who he is today.

“It helped me become a stronger person,” Rostovsky said. “I know I can do anything. Having learned to stand up for myself, I can now even stand up for other people.”

Jake loves to educate people about the transgender state. He wants to use his life experiences to help other people. Jake has started the organization TUFF with his mom Cryden.

They want to create a safe haven for transgenders, so others do not have to go through everything that Jake had to endure. He dreams about becoming a transgender voice for his generation. Jake has held several school presentations and done various media interviews.

“I hope to raise money to individuals who do not have enough money for their transitions,” Rostovsky said. “To this, I want to dedicate my life.”

Jake has advice for individuals who are in the same situation as he once was.

“Everything will be okay as long as you follow your heart,” Rostovsky said. “Know that you are not alone.”

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