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Stellan Petto, a sixth grader at Louisville’s J. Graham Brown School, was recently named a finalist in NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge. His podcast called “What is it like being trans?” explores how Stellan found happiness with the help of his family, and features an honest interview with his older sister, Raegan, about her thoughts on his transition at an early age. Stellan, 12, made the podcast in his digital storytelling class along with help from his teacher, Randi Skaggs.

From the start of the project, Stellan said he knew that he wanted to talk about being transgender. “I can’t really be shy about any part of me,” he said. It was a discovery he had made about himself when he was six years old. A podcast about the trans experience would help people understand his plight, he said.

Henry Zimmerman | wfpl.org

Stellan made his podcast with the help of his teacher, Randi Skaggs.

And Stellan wants people to learn from his story.

“My topic is a topic that no one really talks about,” he said. Stellan hoped that aspect of his podcast would help him take the top honors, but when the winners were announced at the beginning of May, his name wasn’t among them. Stellan said he was excited to make it that far, but ultimately disappointed. He thought for sure he would win. 

In the future, Stellan said he might not make any more podcasts. He has his eyes set on a much different goal: becoming an orthopedic surgeon. It’s a goal inspired by his own experience breaking his arm and leg when he was seven years old. And while he’s still a bit too young to do any major advocacy work, Stellan will continue to share his story, whether that’s through his podcast or not.

For being a finalist, NPR will send Stellan a certificate honoring the achievement.

You can listen to the full version of “What is it like being trans?” by Stellan Petto below, or by clicking here.

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