My name is Kara Jane, and I am a 61-year-old transgender woman. I was born in Adelaide and have lived here all my life.
I knew from a very early age that I was different to other children as I saw beautiful things and wanted to own them, I saw beautiful clothes and wanted to wear them. My home life was nothing special, a typical suburban Catholic family - living with a lot of Catholic guilt. Nothing really happened until I reached the age of 10 years and that's when I realised that I was born in the wrong body. I knew from that point I would always identify as female.
Most, of a certain age in our community would know that growing up in the 70's and the 80's was a scary time. There was much violence directed toward our community. I started to experiment from the age of approximately ten years wearing my mother's clothes whenever I was left home alone. This gave me a great deal of pleasure as it felt very natural wearing these clothes.
My disappointment came when I would look in the mirror and from the neck down, I saw a beautiful young girl, but as soon as I saw my face I became very upset at what I was seeing because it didn't match. During this time I started a scrapbook of pictures of models and female celebrities. This book was my pride and joy, as it was my only opportunity to let my imagination run wild thinking one day that I too could be that beautiful.
When I reached the age of 16, I was very confused about my gender as I presented as male but felt female. I plucked up enough courage one day to discuss my confusion with my mother. I wanted her help, I felt I needed her guidance as I wanted to live as my authentic self. The conversation went badly and before I had a chance to express my confusion I was told ‘those people’ were just attention seekers who made poor life choices.
I had to deal with family expectations as the only male born to our family it was my ‘responsibility’ to keep the family name alive by getting married and having children. Deep down inside I didn't want this (marriage) so I decided to conform and married a wonderful woman and had 3 children and fortunately 2 of them were boys, to ‘carry on the family name’.
I continued to live a straight male life because I was too afraid to come out to anyone. I was suffering from what we refer to today as Gender Dysphoria. At the time, to suppress my feelings, I imagined a small fire burning in my chest and this was my authentic self. The only way I could find to suppress the realisation of who I truly was, was to wrap the burning fire in asbestos, to keep it under control. Every now and then the fire would grow and burn through, and I would again begin to express my authentic self.
I fought this battle for over fifty years until one day I was attending a football match at Adelaide oval in April 2021 with family and friends. During the half time break I suddenly experienced a euphoric feeling that overwhelmed me. I realised it was now or never. The fire had completely burnt through the asbestos and was so big now it was outside of my chest and there was no stopping it. Moral of the story, beware the magical powers of the AFL. Ha ha ha.
I had reached a crossroads in my life, and it was going to be a life changing moment because I had to decide to live as my authentic self or suffer greatly. At that moment the desire was so strong, these I knew, were my only options, I had because I couldn't continue to live the lie any longer about who I really was.
I had to keep this to myself as I didn't have any idea where to start my transition journey. I decided to approach my family GP in May 2021 to begin the discussion about what to do next. We had a very long conversation and worked out a plan beginning with Shine SA. I had to come out to two of the most trusted people in my life, my two sisters. Next I had to come out to my wife and then to a close friend and then one of my cousins. All of them were shocked initially but very supportive.
Unfortunately the support didn't last long as my sisters and my wife couldn't cope and I was isolated from my family but fortunately I had my friend and cousin still with me. I was emotionally destroyed and in a few weeks most of my support was withdrawn and I was on my own. I spent weeks out of control emotionally constantly crying for no real reason or just being triggered by everything I saw and heard. I also started to seek out others from the community as I desperately needed to connect with other transgender women.
I did a lot of research and found a private Facebook group called LGBTIQA Elders Australia I joined this group and my entire world just opened up. Through this amazing group I met some of the most open, honest, understanding and accepting people. They embraced me and loved me for who I was - no judgements. Some of the people I have met are going to be lifelong friends who I thank them for, as I’ve never been truly accepted during my previous life.
I did have a few setbacks along the way and for awhile was dealing with a private psychologist but eventually found my way back to Shine SA who saved me. I had become lost but getting back in with Shine SA turned my life around as without their understanding and support I don't know where I’d be at today. The next people I needed to come out to were my children which again was another difficult discussion which went much the same way as when I came out to my sisters and wife.
The most difficult person to talk with was my 87-year-old mother. I needed to do this as our relationship was very damaged already because of what I was dealing with. Again, the same outcome as with the rest of my family. I have come a long way since April 2021 as I've learned a lot about our community, good and bad and about myself. I managed to establish myself in our beautiful community and made a number of friends. I’m building my own wardrobe of clothes for the first time in my life. I sat in a major makeup department and had a full face of makeup applied. I presented in public with hair and makeup for the first time in the last few weeks which was a huge challenge.
I have been on HRT for a few weeks, but I have already started to feel some emotional changes as I am finding a few new things that are triggering me and I’m starting to cry again about non transition issues, emotional scenes in old movies and television series. I know that there are many challenges ahead for me and my family as we are trying to make adjustments to our family life as non-acceptance is still a big issue. No-one with the exception of my niece (who did my makeup) and my best friend have been with my authentic self. Family support is important to me, but I do understand their day-to-day struggles with accepting my coming out, especially for my wife as she's dealing with it daily.
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