A N.S. valedictorian comes out during graduation speech. A standing ovation followed


Quinn Legg grew up watching, and working alongside, his dad as he fixed cars and tinkered with renovation projects.

The 18-year-old’s early introduction to repair work led to his love for mechanics and he’s now graduated from the Nova Scotia Community College automotive and repair program as valedictorian — with a speech to remember.

“From a very young age I knew I was very different. The body I was born in does not match who I identify as,” Legg said in his speech on June 16 where he came out as trans.

In a later interview, he told  Global News that he knew he was not in the right body at age six and transitioned at 14.

Only Legg’s very close friends and instructors had known he was trans throughout the school year.

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“I went stealth,” Legg said. “I’m very lucky to pass well, and I kind of experienced a camaraderie, like I said in my speech, with my whole class.”

In a blue-collar trade like mechanics, Legg noticed he wasn’t really represented and wanted to change that.

“To see somebody like myself be able to thrive in that environment, I think is really important to me, and would also be important to my community as well.”

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His speech was met with a standing ovation from classmates — more than he ever could have expected.

“Oh my god, it was an adrenaline that I have never felt before,” Legg said. “I actually kept re-watching my speech over and over for the rest of the day and the next couple days… It was not the reaction that I was preparing myself for for the past couple of months. So, it was an amazing feeling.”

Legg described the feeling like “a warm blanket,” remembering how he started the school year with fear and trepidation.

“Through high school and leading up to going into college I was really, really scared. Like, what’s going to happen if people find out?” Legg said. “To instead be embraced by the blue-collar trade, it was a really nice and warm surprise.”

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For Legg’s mother, Alicia Frederick, the enormity of the moment had her on the edge of her seat.

“It was surreal. Especially when, multiple times throughout the speech, he got a huge round of applause and cheers,” Frederick recalled.

“I have never felt that kind of pride and warmth and happiness and hope, still vibrating with fear, all at the same time. It was amazing and I’ll never forget it.”

Initially worried about the reaction the speech would get, Frederick says it felt like she was walking Legg into the lion’s den.

“A lot of people haven’t been nice throughout this whole thing,” she said. “Once, he did tell me he was definitely going forward with the speech where he comes out to the whole room. I was like, ‘ok, here we go, we’re doing this.’”

And her advice for other parents looking to support their trans children: “Don’t let gender get in the way of letting them try to figure out who they are.”

For Legg, he wants his speech to bring hope.

“If I was back at six years old and I saw someone like myself up on that stage being able to give a speech like that and being able to give support… Just to see someone with a voice like that, I think I would have felt safer and came out a lot sooner.”

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Now a graduate, Legg is ready to work towards becoming a red seal technician — following his dreams and paving a path forward.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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