Woman steps out after living her life as a man
Today, Stephanie Vaughan woke up, had her morning cup of tea, styled her hair, clothes and makeup and set about her day - as a woman.
Such an act would once have been unthinkable for her and for many across the world. To go out as her true self, act as her true self and be the woman she was always meant to be.
Why? Because Stephanie was born intersex and raised as a boy. She was born with both male and female genitals and her parents had agreed to surgery in order to raise her as Robin.
To make matters worse, this discovery was made not as a child, or a young adult, but at the age of 55 in a doctor’s office while on a mission to discover the reason behind her lifelong issues with estrogen and body development.
Having spent her whole life feeling wrong, cross dressing in secret and struggling to find her place in the world she ultimately chose to transition into a woman, and so Stephanie was born.
“I made the decision in 2016 to transition, I went to Philadelphia for surgery and by March 2017 I was Stephanie both at home and out,” she said.
“It was strange really, I’d had gotten to a stage where I felt like I had to keep changing back to Robin for certain things and I needed to do grocery shopping and I thought this is it, I’m going to put a dress on, look nice and be me.
“It was nerve wracking, daunting really, I’d told a few close people but I hadn’t gone out in public because I had established myself in my male identity for such a long time, I was worried I’d never pass in Busselton, that people wouldn’t accept me.
“But I’ve not had a single negative remark made towards me here, I am finally me and feel truly accepted.
“Stephanie has always occupied part of my brain, I used to go to bed every night and pray I would wake up as Stephanie.”
Since that day, Stephanie has never looked back thanks to the support of her “incredible” partner Denise who stood by her side throughout her entire transition from a man to a woman.
Transitioning gender, also known as transgender, is a person who now has a gender that is different to what was assigned to them at birth. In 2016 the Australia Bureau of Statistics found 1260 Australians identified as transgender however the count is not considered accurate due to limitations around the population’s willingness or opportunity to report as sex and/or gender diverse.
In recent media, the focus of transgender has been on teenagers and young adults, in emotive debates about access to toilets, sporting events and when to put a young person on hormone blockers, older trans people have been rendered invisible.
To combat this, share her story and help others transitioning later in life, Stephanie has put pen to paper on her unique and not-so-unique life.
This Friday, the book will be launched in Nannup, a story meant to be shared with the world and show others it’s never too late to be your true, happy authentic self.
“Writing this book, I wanted to help other people and help them not feel so alone,” she said.
“I want people, both young and old, to feel confident to strive to be their authentic self and know there’s safe spaces within our world, it’s never too late to transition if that’s who you really are.
“I also want to bring the conversation around intersex people to the forefront of media, there’s so much work to be done and conversations needed in Australia about the impacts surgery on babies has on people in the long term.
“The problem is that, with intesex people in particular, it’s such a taboo subject and there are still infants being modified without their consent and that’s completely wrong.
“There are five babies every day being operated on. Back when I was born in 1961 doctors were God’s word but the sad thing is babies are still being operated on today.
“I never knew I was intersex until my 50s and by then my parents had passed away so I had no answers, I don’t want others to have to face that prospect.”
Born as the youngest boy of three children in 1961 on a Yorkshire farm, it took Stephanie only a handful of years to realise something didn’t add up, she wasn’t like her older brothers or the boys at school but didn’t know why.
As a teenager, despite being rail thin, she developed breasts but was told it was because she was overweight. It was then she began to fantasise about becoming a girl, about becoming Stephanie.
This was the 1970s though, transitioning wasn’t done. And so, she continued life as any other man, got a job, married, moved to Australia, divorced and married again.
It was at age 51 Stephanie decided to get her health in order, after losing her brother to a heart condition at only 53, which is where her journey of self discovery and transition truly began.
Launched on Friday, Half Him Half Her, is a heartfelt autobiography where readers join Stephanie on her journey to self discovery, healing and acceptance and know no matter their age, experiences and lifestyle, they too can find happiness no matter what.
Half Him Half Her is available to buy on Kindle or in paperback at Amazon or from other online book sellers.
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