March 25, 2015 01:10 PM

Tom Sosnik, a 13-year-old from Fresno, California, recently stood in front of his classmates and did a very brave thing: He revealed that he is transgender.

Sosnik posted video of his speech to YouTube as a dedication to Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen who took her own life in December after her family refused to accept her transition.

“All of sixth grade, I struggled with my gender identity, and I am now embracing my truth,” Sosnik says in the video. “For a while I dismissed the fact that I hated my body. I pretended to be content with what I was assigned until, at a certain point, I broke.”

He describes the breakdowns and thoughts in his head surrounding the internal struggle to go from Mia, as his classmates knew him, to Tom, which he now identifies as.

“I understand that this will be a difficult adjustment but I hope and trust that you will treat me with respect and thoughtfulness,” he says. “So those of you that are having trouble, that is completely understandable.”

Sosnik says he is open to answering any questions his classmates might have about his transition.

After reading Leelah’s suicide letter, Sosnik says, he came to appreciate the support of his family and community.

“This is how I came out to my community as trans,” he says in the description of his YouTube channel. “Please share my story and my message with your loved ones. To all those struggling to embrace their true and authentic gender or sexuality, I want you to know that if no one else accepts you, I always will. Rest in power, Leelah.”

He concludes the video saying any form of support is received with much gratitude.

“I hope that everyone can really support me because you guys are like my second family, and if you do support me,” he says, “I will feel like the luckiest boy in the world. Thank you for letting me share my story.”

The roaring applause from his classmates showed their support for Tom, and even brought the young man to tears.

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