Busselton woman Erica Dunn stopped by the Mail office last week to talk about being transgender with the hope it might stop the bullying she receives in public.
Ms Dunn has been living in Busselton since 1983 and is approaching her 20th year working at a supermarket, something she is really proud of.
Recently, she has been made to feel threatened in the community from people she did not know – complete strangers - because of her appearance.
Ms Dunn recently started hormone treatment to become a woman, something she has felt since she was four years old.
“In my mind I did not want to be born male - I wanted to be born female – but it did not happen that way,” she said.
Ms Dunn approached her GP about the issue and was told she was a transgender child, not the gender she was born.
“The doctor told me I would have to fix it before it became too late.”
Ms Dunn said the process had presented challenges in the community, with people questioning why she was wearing the clothing she was and that it was inappropriate.
She was told by her specialist if she wanted to become a female that she would have to wear female clothing in public.
“You have to face up to the people in the community, but I do not have to mix with them if they are unkind, I do not have to say anything to them and can ignore them,” she said.
“People have been giving me a hard time and I have been trying to ignore it.”
South West Counselling chief executive officer Karen Sommerville said she was not surprised to hear this story, as much as she liked to think that we were an accepting community.
The counselling service works with people of diverse genders and sexualities, and had undertaken a project funded by WA Primary Health Alliance to offer support to the LGBTQI South West community who may be struggling.
“The marriage equality debate has impacted on people and their level of safety, and people have been indirectly affected by comments or things they have read,” she said.
“People can be made to feel as an outsider to the rest of society which can be quite confronting and hurtful.
“The debate feeds into people's beliefs about transgender people and misinformation is being provided in the debate which has created fear. It can be really isolating for people.”
If you need crisis support or would like to talk with someone please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.