24 hours back on home soil and my head is full of reflections of every kind. While Yorkshire is my ancestral home my heart is in Australia. My 2018 trip has been full of every type of emotion, some good some very tough.

The wedding of my stepdaughter Nikki was an amazing day, full of pride for the part I played in bringing her up. I was truly honoured to have been a part of it and having the opportunity to speak as her step parent. We had a bond right from the start which at the time blew me away because I was not particularly child friendly but as I said in my speech she captured my heart on Christmas Day 1990. It was lovely to spend my last evening them. The down side was that I was not with my best friend and soulmate, Denise, when she needed me and I regret not going back to Wales to support her. Hopefully I can make that up to her in some way by being the supporting partner she deserves now that I am back.

There have been some real high points while I have been in Yorkshire, I have caught up with lots of people I haven’t seen for many years, all of whom have welcomed me in my new self and been very supportive. There have been some outstanding comments from people, the two most notable being “how could you ever have been a boy” by one person after looking at me and the other “you make a lot better looking girl than you did a boy” by a person I haven’t seen for 15 years at least and while that could be taken as a bit of a back handed compliment I took it as a compliment nonetheless.

There have however been some very tough moments, the hardest was probably on Sunday afternoon in Harpham churchyard after the scattering of the ashes of my mother’s best friend Pat Webster. I stared at the grave of my parents and can’t describe the emotions I felt, I so wanted to ask them why. Why didn’t they tell me of my beginnings?  Why did they watch me struggle through school being bullied and teased?  Why did they take me to two different specialists to try and explain my severe gynecomastia (when they already knew the reason for it)?   Finally why did they not do as the second specialist told my father to do (i.e. tell me) after he had asked my father why he had brought his child to see him when he knew why I was having problems.   It all hurts so much and there are tears in my eyes writing this.  The fact that my brother won’t talk about it hurts me even more.

Then there was Denise’s mum’s funeral.  As funerals go it was the perfect tribute to a wonderful lady with whom I had a real connection from the start. It was a true celebration of her life and a tribute her true spirit, that of a battler and strong lady for whom I had great respect and love. I couldn’t help but make comparisons between Doreen and my own mother.  If I had had the same sort of relationship with my mother as I had with Doreen my life could have been completely different.

My visit to the surgeon in Brighton, I feel, was a success.  He spoke a great deal of sense and said he would be happy to carry out further surgery on me if required. He said I have a 50/50 chance of needing it and having a positive next step is comforting for me. Hopefully I will continue to heal and everything will be fine, and while it isn’t fully the result I had hoped for I need to get my life back on track, finish the Nannup project and start enjoying my life as Stephanie with Denise.

While there have been lots of setbacks, receiving the comments and support that I have had in the UK makes it all worthwhile along with the amazing support I have had from our many friends at home.  As a friend commented on my Facebook post earlier, you will never please all of the people all of the time and family are the hardest to please, so just enjoy being who you are and enjoy all the friends who you care for and who care for you.


For some reason today has been a tough one. In the scheme of things it shouldn’t have been, lunch with a lady I used to work with 20 years ago, tea with someone I have known for over twenty years and then a catch up with someone I have known for 40 years but haven’t seen for 30. The last one was always going to be a story telling time which has it’s pitfalls but I thought I had managed to navigate my way around the tender points quite well. It didn’t turn out that way for some reason and some time after he had left I found myself really struggling. When it came time for my walk, the sun was still out but low so I wore my sunglasses. Just as well really as before I had got very far I found my eyes welling up and the tears rolling down my face. The harsh reality is that the parents thing still hurts me very much and no matter how many time people say to me that times were very different then and lots of things just weren’t spoken about, the truth is that they had lots of time to tell me in the nineties and the 2000’s when things were more liberally spoken about but chose not to. While my physical health seems to be improving my mental health evidently is not which is disappointing as I thought I dealing with things much better. Visiting friends and relatives in the UK was always going to have its moments but I thought this time being the second time for most of them would be easier. Perhaps the fact that I am not having to think so much about my physical well-being has left me more time to dwell on the mental side of things which is more difficult to handle. The physical side of things could be very easily fixed by taking a tablet or two to ease the pain but the mental side is much more of a problem. The acceptance of the fact that in reality I’m not going to find someone who knew about my beginnings and even if I did they are unlikely to tell me they knew anyway is a huge hurdle for me.

So I am into my last week of the 2018 visit. As much as for the most part I enjoy catching up with friends I am actually ready for home. I miss Denise so very much, I miss the pets, our friends and the place itself. I have been back to the UK 8 times in the last 9 years and I’m thinking we will be having a break next year. There are lots of places in the world I want to visit including the rest of Australia.

So my challenge when I get back is to deal with the mental health side of my transition. Hopefully the physical side will keep improving and there will be no need for further surgery, the surgeon in Brighton thought there was a 50/50 chance so somehow I need to improve the odds in my favour which will be the first thing I discus with my GP when I get home. The first obstacle is to get through the next week without too many days like today, hopefully it was a one-off and tomorrow will be better!

Halfway mark

As I sit relaxing with my glass of Baileys I think it’s time to reflect upon the first half of my 2018 trip. The functions are over and the job now is to catch up with as many friends and family as possible before I head back to Australia on the 25th May.

The main reason for my trip was to attend the wedding of my stepdaughter Nikki and her fiancé Jon, it was the most amazing day I have had in a long time, even the weather was kind to us. The bride looked truly spectacular and I couldn’t help but think of the two and a half year old little girl who curled up on my lap on Christmas Day 1990, thumb firmly entrenched in her mouth and how she captured my heart. It was a lovely day from start to finish and I felt very honoured to be part of it and even more honoured to be able to speak as ex step father now step mother as it were.

Sadly just two days before the wedding I was attending the funeral of my best friend and soulmate Denise’s  mum in Wales. Doreen and I made a connection on her very first visit to Australia after Denise and I got together in 2013. For some reason we just clicked, she made fun of the fact I was from Yorkshire and I made fun of her for living in Wales. We had so many good trips and so many laughs over the next few years which will remain in my memories for ever. A truly outstanding lady who had no problems getting to grips with my transition unlike some closer to me who should really just be happy for me instead of having a problem accepting the fact that I am now Stephanie and very proud of what I have accomplished over the last 18 months. Denise did an amazing job of organising the funeral in a way that made it a true celebration of Doreen’s life and her eulogy was outstanding. I played a very small part by reading a poem but felt very honoured to do it.

Two days prior to the funeral we were in Brighton seeing a transgender surgeon. I needed to know whether he thought I needed further surgery, on what timescale if I did and his views on several other issues. He was lovely with me, he listened to my story, made me cry and after examining me, treated some granulation tissue with silver nitrate which also came close to making me cry but the meeting I feel was very beneficial and if the need for further surgery arises then he would be high on the list of people to do it. He classed it as a 50/50 chance so there is a large possibility that I will see him again.

So now to the task of seeing as many people as possible before I go back home. There will be lots who I don’t get to see and I hope they will understand. If I spend the rest of my time here chasing around the country visiting people it will not be a holiday for me and I will return home exhausted and probably go backwards in terms of my healing so I hope I don’t disappoint too many people. I have made a good start and have had some memorable meetings with people up to now including my beautiful friends Stephen and Yvonne who I saw yesterday. They have been so supportive of me and when I arrived yesterday Yvonne’s greeting was priceless, she took one look at me and said “just look at you, how could you ever have been a boy?” It simply doesn’t get any better than that! Then today I caught up with a lady I haven’t seen for over 40 years, since we were at school together. We met at Bainton and spent over three very enjoyable hours talking about old times, common friends and my story. Wendy I’m sorry I made you cry when I told my story, I still fill up with tears when I tell it but managed to keep them back today. It was a wonderful three hours and would have loved it to be longer but hopefully we will get you out to Australia at some point in the not too distant future.

This trip I hope to catch up with a number of people who I haven’t seen for many years and today was a good start. I am so lucky to have as many positive friends that so far outweighs the odd negative one and I will continue to seek out people from my past who I would love to re connect with, hopefully they are of the same mind, time I guess will tell!