Caroline's Story
Copyright © 2002, Caroline
Aerobics Instructor, Welfare worker/student,
Track and field athlete
I feel very fortunate since I transitioned in September 1995, four days short of my thirtieth birthday. For the most part my family and friends were very accepting. Sure there has been some heartache along the way, but with that comes growth, so I have felt that maybe that heartache was necessary for me to be the person I am today.
Since I transitioned back in 95, I suppose I have been very lucky, I have always been told I pass well. Fom me it has always been about balance, i.e. living my life with dignity, just getting on with it and being a normal girl. I have always been aware that I was TS, but for the most part, it wasn't a big factor in how I lived my life. In my early transition, the TS girls that just loved being women were my inspiration, I suppose you could say that they were my role models.
For a few years, I had very little to do with the Transgender community, as I was living with another post-op girl who is my best friend to this day. When my friend moved to the United States in 2000 I felt a little lonely, so I mixed in the community a little more. Every once in a while, I would visit the Gender Centre at Petersham to stay in touch.
In 2001, I felt very stagnant and I would say that was a watershed year for me. I was teaching Aerobics, which I love doing, but I wasn't going anywhere with my life. I felt socially and financially isolated, so I decided to do something about it.
Firstly I decided to participate in the 2002 Sydney Gay Games (story in next edition of Polare magazine) in the sport of Track and Field. I also decided to do a course at Campbelltown TAFE college in Welfare (2 year course-Diploma of Communiity Welfare). Well has this year been a hoot, I just feel like I have achieved so much. I got out of my comfort zone.
During the Games, I was fortunate enough to win 4 gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal. I won the 100m, 200m, long jump and was a member of the winning 4 x 100m relay team for my age group (35-39 years.) I also won a silver in the 4 x 400m relay in the 18-29 years age group (dropping down two age groups) and a bronze for the mixed medley relay (35-39 yrs). I had the best time, I really believe, if you set your mind to something, you can achieve anything. I was a champion athlete at school, so I knew I had it in me. I doubt that I have wanted anything so badly for such a long time. As far as I was concerned (pre-competition), those medals were mine and I wasn't going to let anyone have them without a fight.
I also had such a great time, the athletes were wonderful, everyone was spurring each other on to do great things. Now I am going to compete mainstream (after I get my assessment done) and I am going to attempt to be World Masters champion in those events for my age group in the next few years ( having goals is good). I also want to defend my gold medals in Montreal 2006.
As for my welfare course, I have really enjoyed that to, and the 14 of us
(all girls) in my class really enjoy what we are doing. I have been fortunate enough to top the class in several subjects and I have earned four distinctions so far this year. This year I have achieved more than I did in the last five put together. I think once I had my surgery, I didn't think life could get any better, but it has.
On a personal level, I feel I have come full circle. I used to feel ashamed that I was TS, but now I feel proud. Obviously I don't go around telling everyone, but it is a feeling that comes from within. The same feeling I have about being a woman.
As for the future, I am going to keep on running and competing. With my Welfare course, I'd love to get out there and educate the general community through schools, etc, that transgender people aren't bad people. I know that one will take time, but we have to start somewhere.
Well, if I have inspired one person to transition or compete in sport, then that is great. I know I have been inspired by other people during my life and I know how powerful this can be.
Update: April 3, 2003
I won a bronze medal at the 2003 New South Wales State Athletics championships in the 100 metres and I attained fourth place in the long jump. Unfortunately I injured myself (Grade 2 calf muscle tear) in the process of running my 100 metre race, so unfortunately I had to withdraw from the 200 metres and shot put. I also unfortunately had to withdraw from the Trans Tasman Masters Games. On times and distances I would have won medals in all of my events at these games, but that is sport, sometimes you get injured and medals are just the icing on the cake, they signify the hard work and effort that you have put in. They are nice to have, but they are not the be all and end all.
As for my personal life, I have moved three times over the last three months and now I am finally settled. We sold the family property at Orangeville, 70 kilometres west of Sydney. My mother subsequently bought a 5 acre property at Arcadia (outer northern suburb of Sydney). Because of this I changed TAFE colleges and went to Nirimba (as it is closer), I have absolutely hated it (the students were nice though), as it is completely different and foreign to Campbelltown, so I am going to go back to Campbelltown TAFE to finish what I started, as I was near the top of my class in every subject, at Nirimba I felt that the teachers didn't teach as well or weren't as passionate about their students doing well. Sometimes we have to have some adversity, so that in the end, our successes are that much sweeter (I should be a philosopher:)
It hasn't been all bad though, as I have been employed at one fitness centre since moving and I teach my first aerobics class there tonight. I am looking for more work and I am hopeful of getting work at the Sydney Aquatic Centre (where the swimming was held at the Sydney Olympics 2000), my resume went out this week to them. I shall keep you all posted on that one.
My injury has also healed (calf muscle tear) and I am now back in training for success at the Australian Masters Games in November. I started back training this week. So all in all, life is going pretty well at the moment."
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