LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As the Las Vegas valley has continued to grow, one community living in the shadows has been expanding. The trans population is rising and for one, it’s a journey not many know about. 

“We are moving forward.” 

It’s been a long and bumpy road for Frankie Perez. The Las Vegas resident invited 8 News Now into his home to talk to us about his life as a trans man. 

“How do you identify? I identify as Chicano as Latinx as a trans man and sometimes I put all that together and I say trans Latinx Chicano. It all depends on the space I’m in,” Perez said.  

That space is important because he said safety is his number one priority. Growing up as a female, catholic and in a Latino family, his journey was not easy, he said. 

“My dad didn’t say too much at first when I told him. He didn’t speak to me for a little while. My mom spoke to me but it was very awkward.”  

According to the Human Rights Campaign, there are more than 2 million transgender people across the United States representing all races, faiths, and ethnic backgrounds. 

The word transgender or trans is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from the sex assigned at birth. 

In Nevada, there are about 12,700 trans members according to the LGBTIQ center of Las Vegas.  

Percy Neavez is the Youth Resource Specialist with the center in Las Vegas. A crucial resource she said for the trans community with their “identi-t” initiative as well as a lifesaver. 

“We know that studies done over time, it only takes one adult in a youth’s life to save them. If they have that one accepting adult or family member it makes all the difference,” Neavez said.  

“The mental part was first and coming to terms with things like pronouns saying he/him/his. I thought people should be calling me they/them. I couldn’t get the fact that I was assigned female terms at birth and saying I’m really a man,” Perez added.  

Gender identity, as The Trevor Project explains, is not an easy concept which is why pronouns matter. 

We may identify Susie as “she or her” but we shouldn’t assume that is what Susie wants. Susie may want to identify as “they or them.” Perez said it’s all about respect.    

“At the beginning, it was like these are my pronouns. I’m going to start my hormone replacement therapy and change my name.” 

Perez’s journey to transition to a female began after leaving the air force and finding the right doctors in Las Vegas, a private phase to find his real self. 

“Am I dating? No. I don’t have time for that.” 

Today Perez lives every day with a smile, being true to himself, and surrounded by people that support his decision. A personal and sometimes difficult journey he said that he does not regret taking. 

“I think with the Latinx families we got through a lot and we still get together.” 

Frankie told 8 News Now he is in the process of achieving another personal goal. He is planning on becoming a father as he is in the process of adopting. 

His advice for others in the trans community is to be strong and have a solid support system.