After I travelled to Coffs Harbour to meet Col Young for our first interview, I was deeply impressed by the tenacity and courage of this 84 year old transgender woman, negotiating living openly as a transgender woman in a small regional community, as she simultaneously faced the reality of having to transition into aged care.
But the thing that struck me most about Col’ story was the incredible bond that had developed between Col and her wife Heather. Married for over 50 years, Col and Heather guarded Col’s secret, that she felt she was a woman caught within a man’s body.
Although Col describes that it was initially difficult for Heather, they eventually become “partners in crime”, and most nights, Heather would draw the curtains on their suburban bungalow, and the two would dress up in Heather’s clothes. They would then wait for the cover of dusk, and venture out walking together as two women. Col even reports that they were wolf-whistled one time, but were giggling so much they didn’t know which way to run.
It was the love between these two human beings, that over time completely transcended their gender roles. This is why it was so difficult for Col when Heather was diagnosed with brain cancer, soon after passing away when they were both in their late 70s. Col became very introverted, lonely and depressed.
Heather had however arranged for a mentor for Col. She asked her best friend Denise to look out for Col. What Heather didn’t tell Denise however, was the Col was transgender.
But Denise is a wonderful woman and friend, and has a heart of gold. So when Col found the courage to come out to Denise, she accepted her with all the love in her heart.
Col’s sexual health specialist Dr. Emanuel Vlahakis commented that it is often a major life event, such as the passing of a partner or spouse, that creates an opportunity for many transgender people to come out and start to live on the outside as they feel they are on the inside. This was indeed the case with Col.
So at 82, Col began the wondrous journey of openly living as her true self.
To find out more about the documentary ‘Becoming Colleen’, you can watch the trailer on our home page.