Lucy Spraggan says she would have undergone gender-affirming surgery as a teen: ‘I was a boy’

X factor star Lucy Spraggan on identifying as a boy called Max until puberty.

Ahead of the release of her new memoir, former X Factor star Lucy Spraggan has opened up about her complex relationship with her gender identity after identifying as a boy called Max during her youth.

Earlier this month, Lucy Spraggan revealed in a powerful interview with the Guardian that she left The X Factor back in 2012 after being sexually assaulted by a hotel porter.

The 31-year-old singer, who rose to fame on season nine of the popular ITV reality competition in 2012, explained that she made the brave decision to open up about the ordeal in an attempt to “rebuild myself and move on” a decade of silence.

Ahead of the release of her new memoir Process: Finding My Way Through, Spraggan shared another experience that shaped her life during an appearance on the podcast How To Fail With Elizabeth Day, explaining that she identified as a boy called Max for the “majority” of her childhood and teenage years.

“I don’t ever remember being a little Lucy really,” the singer explained to Day. “It wasn’t that I wanted to be a little boy, I wasn’t a tomboy, I was a boy. I went to the barber’s with my brother, I climbed trees – not that it’s a boy thing) – I wore boxer shorts. It wasn’t that I was ever pretending to be anything. I was living my absolute authentic self.”

Spraggan recounted one anecdote in her book where she proved to her male school friends that she was a boy by unbuttoning her trousers and showing everyone her boxer shorts.

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“All the little boys went ‘oh yeah, see, we knew you were a boy’ and the simplicity of that is what we lose as we get older,” she continued. “You are who you say you are, I still believe that now. I was a little boy until puberty.”

Despite the progress that has been made for trans rights, a recent wave of anti-trans sentimentparticularly in the US and UK– is threatening to undermine genderqueer children exploring their identity in school.

On Wednesday (19 July), education secretary Gillian Keegan confirmed that the UK government intends to make schools ‘out’ trans children to their parents; a decision that has sparked backlash from MPs, teachers and LGBTQ+ organisations.

Spraggan, fortunately, remembers her mum being unfailingly supportive as she explored her identity.

“Had I decided to stay Max she would have said ‘absolutely’ and the power in that is such a privilege,” she explained.

As to why she didn’t continue to identify as Max throughout adulthood, the “Bodies” singer explained that a lack of “options” for gender-affirming surgery combined with the onset of puberty prevented her from living authentically.

“At the turn of the millennium, there weren’t the options that we have today and people really struggle to get their heads around the fact that if that had been an option, I’d have loved to have still been Max,” she continued.

Lucy Spraggan performs at O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire.
Lucy Spraggan performs at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. (Joseph Okpako/WireImage)

Spraggan has been vocal about her struggles with body image in recent years, suffering with disordered eating and weight loss that led her to getting breast surgery.

“I think a lot of the issues I had with myself and my body image were based in the fact that puberty stopped me being Max,” she explained to Day.

“I know it’s difficult for people to understand because when they look at me they see a woman with blonde hair and fake boobs. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m still comfortable being a woman and I’ve had to really undo all of that my whole life.”

Spraggan’s relationship with her gender identity remains complicated to this day, and she described surprising feelings of “jealousy” towards of trans men.

“My sister said ‘oh yeah we had this conversation that if you transitioned to Max now, none of them would be surprised’. The other day I saw this trans man with an amazing beard and instantly I thought ‘I don’t like this person’. Then I thought ‘one sec what are you doing here?’ I was jealous of his beard.

“I don’t get jealous of cisgendered men’s beards, just trans men’s beards.”

Despite her ongoing exploration of her gender identity, Spraggan admitted that one of the reasons she is not trans is “because of how much hatred and prejudice and bully happens towards trans people”.

She recalled an anti-trans protest she stumbled up in Birmingham that deeply impacted her.

“I cried because I thought ‘how many people are here protesting against somebody being their authentic self’. And I could look at almost everybody there and say ‘you are angry because you are not being honest with yourself’.”

Lucy Spraggan’s debut memoir Process: Finding My Way Through is available to buy now.

Rape Crisis England and Wales works towards the elimination of sexual violence. If you’ve been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland’s helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.

Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.

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