He’s the man: Spotlight on Dylan Perkins ’23

Dylan Perkins ’23 opens up about field hockey, friends and coming out as transgender.


Fallon Dern

Dylan Perkins ’23, Casey Ross ’23, Preston Yeh ’23, Ryann Castanon-Hill ’23 and Chiara Umbeko ’23 spend time together.

Fallon Dern

Dylan Perkins ’23 leaned on a poster-covered wall and said he’s never known how to smile in photos. Casey Ross ’23, Preston Yeh ’23 and Ryann Castanon-Hill ’23 surrounded him, calling out poses for a flashing phone camera. To Perkins’s left, Chiara Umbeko ’23 painted on Perkins’s bedroom wall near his light switch. For the duration of the interview, Perkins encouraged his friends to freely decorate his room.

Perkins came out as transgender in November of 2020, and as he sat between Yeh and a box of art supplies, he said he was ready to share his journey.

“There’s a nice version of this story, and there’s one that I probably shouldn’t say because some people will get mad at me,” Perkins said. “Let’s go with the nice one.”

Perkins recalled his childhood and how he understood transgender identities

Perkins said he grew up without transgender representation in media and didn’t learn about gender and sexuality in his classrooms. Instead, he relied on the internet to answer the questions he felt uncomfortable asking adults in his life.

“I had a lot of anxiety as a child and spent a lot of time online,” Perkins said. “I learned about LGBT identities very young. I learned about what it meant to be trans. I knew it fit. I’ve known I was trans since fifth grade, solidly.”

Throughout his elementary school years, Perkins used social media to share different pronouns, names and interests. In fact, the name Dylan was chosen in a virtual space; Perkins came out to his closest friends and asked them to pick a name from his list of options. Ross, who had been listening to Perkins’s stories from her spot on Perkins’s bedroom floor, said she wishes her name ideas were chosen.

Ross, who had been listening to Perkins’s stories from her spot on Perkins’s bedroom floor, said she wishes her name ideas were chosen.

“You didn’t like my suggestions,” Ross said. She recommended ‘Grier’ and ‘Urine.’

Perkins said neither landed well.

“I did not like your suggestions,” Perkins said. “Someone else said ‘Fork’ was a good idea. Eventually, we decided that ‘Dylan’ suited me best.”

After his mind was made up, Perkins shared his new name with his Peer Support group, parents, other close friends, deans, teachers and Instagram followers. He came out in late November, soon after the field hockey season ended. Perkins said he feared whether he would be allowed to play field hockey, an historically all-girls sport, after coming out as male.

Field hockey has always been an integral part of Perkins’s identity

“I planned to wait until after field hockey season of 10th grade because by then, I’d have played for two years in high school,” Perkins said.

“Then, if they kicked me off, I still would’ve had those years, and that’d be fun. But then [COVID-19] hit, so I couldn’t play hockey. Nonetheless, I knew I had to stick to my plan, so I came out November of 10th grade.” Perkins said he has devoted himself to field hockey since seventh grade, playing for the school program as well as West Coast Riptide, USA Futures U14 and USA Futures U16.

“[The Field] Hockey season was my main concern for [the] timing [of] coming out,” Perkins said. “It’s an all-girls sport, and there’s no boys field hockey team at the school. I knew that even if they had to kick me off, I would’ve wanted to have played for a bit.”

Despite his concerns, Perkins said his coaches and teammates have been nothing but supportive since coming out. Field Hockey head coach Erin Creznic said that the team is lucky to have Perkins.

“Dylan has been doing really well for us,” Creznic said. “The coaches were always excited to bring him up to varsity, and we knew he’d be by this year. Everyone’s really warm and welcoming and embracing the changes, and we’re really grateful to have him on our team.”

Perkins gushed about Coach Hamzah Hashmi in particular, and said he now calls the team over by shouting, “Girls and Dylan! Come on!”

“Hamzah’s wonderful,” Perkins said. “I’m sure he guessed this two years ago. He asked me if I had any other pronouns one day and I said, ‘No,’ but in my head, I was wondering, ‘How do you know that?’” 

Perkins said although he is still subject to wearing field hockey skirts for games, he doesn’t mind.

“It’s not a new thing,” Perkins said with a shrug. “I’ve always played games in a skirt, and I’m honestly okay with it because clothing doesn’t have a gender.”

Perkins said he’s become comfortable sharing his identity with others

Gender expression and its discussion have become second nature to Perkins. He said he doubts those in the school community would be intentionally transphobic towards him because of the consequences those actions would have.

“What are they going to do?” Perkins said with a laugh. “I didn’t really care. Nobody’s been unaccepting to my face. If [anyone] misgenders me, I’ll go to the deans. Then what are [they] going to do?”

That line drew a few laughs from Perkins’s four attentive listeners, and Ross said that Perkins has “friends in high places.” The friend in question is Ross’s mom, Associate Head of School Laura Ross. “Oh yeah!” Perkins said. “I’m besties with Ms. Ross.”

Perkins, who has been a friend of the Ross family since 7th grade, said he first told Casey Ross he was transgender via a crumpled-up note in Latin class that read, “I don’t like my name.” 

“I was confused,” Ross said, turning to Perkins and addressing him. “I think I just responded with something stupid like, ‘I don’t like yogurt,’ but a minute later I got it. Years later, you came out, started dressing like yourself and got that haircut. When you became comfortable with yourself, that made me happy. I like seeing you happy.”

The friends reflected on how Perkins gained the strength and confidence to come out. Castanon-Hill, seated on Perkins’s bed and fiddling with his guitar, said she has always been proud of Perkins.

As Perkins paused to remember that day, Umbeko stood up from painting, her brush unintentionally hitting Perkins’s eye with a spec of paint. Within seconds, the friends offered to clean his eye as five different pitches of laughter rang and Perkins freed himself from their grabbing hands. Perkins said he doesn’t push their affection away often, and when asked who he’s most grateful for, he pointed to his friends.

“I had people I was going to spend time with whether or not I was in the closet,” Perkins said. “My gender has never mattered to them because, really, it’s just a spectrum. It can also change. You can be kind of a girl or kind of a guy or not, or in between, or whatever. It’s your life. It’s all just labels. And labels are stupid.”