Matt: Cool, so, I’m Matt, and this is my twin brother Daniel. We were born on the 3rd of July in 1995.
Dan: I was born on the 3rd of July 1995 –
Matt: We were born on the 3rd of July 1995.
Dan: You were born on the 25th of February 1993.
Matt: Yeah but I’m youthful.
Dan: Yeah but like, technically.
Matt: Okay technically, but we look similar.
Dan: Yeah well we do look similar, so I guess.
Matt: Anyways, now that Dan’s ruined that illusion, I’ll tell you a little more about him from an outsider’s perspective. If you meet anyone tonight and you’re like, “oh I just saw this guy Dan Bacon,” and they knew who he was, there’s three things that every single person says about Dan. So one is that he’s charismatic as anything, which I’m very jealous of –
Matt: Two, is that he is a bloody good time.
Dan: I can back that up, yeah.
Matt: And the third one is – acting modestly obviously.
Matt: And the third one is that he’s very loyal. So, Dan is the kind of person that would take his shirt off and give it to a person on the street if they needed it. He’s also the person that if you ever call them up, he gets an inkling like you need company, he will already be halfway to your house. It’s those traits about Dan that makes me very blessed that I’ve got him as a brother, but also makes me feel quite intelligent that I chose him to be my best friend. Oh – I always forget this part. He identifies as transgender.
Dan: Yeah, it’s gonna make sense later, you know what I mean. Well this is Matthew – he’s my older brother, technically. And if you couldn’t kinda tell obviously by the way he speaks, he has a very very big heart. And I think he’s just so considerate and pretty much the definition of selfless. And I think with everything that he does – he always leads by example. He uses his past experiences to, I guess, to be understanding and empathy, and he’s real and relatable and – I just love you, and you’re trustworthy, and again he’s… I’m very lucky to call him my older brother, but I’m more lucky to call him my best friend.
Dan: So after that, where do we begin?
Matt: I suppose the best place to start is that we had a pretty ordinary childhood, except we grew up on the largest hydroponic lettuce farm in Western Australia. I mean, pretty unique, I guess.
Dan: I’m actually surprised that we’re still alive, just because of all of the ridiculous things that we kind of did. I mean, I always felt safe ‘cause I had two older brothers and I looked up to them so much so I was like, “yeah we’re good, we’re good”. I think that kind of, transcended even into teenage years and adult years, ‘cause if I’m with Matt I know I’m okay.
Matt: I don’t think we were that unsafe.
Dan: Well, I mean if you think about…
Matt: Like yeah, we used to crawl through long grass –
Dan: Which were snake infested.
Matt: Yeah…and we did used to beat each other with PVC pipes…
Dan: Yeah I mean, it was sword fighting. Look, I mean I did slice open my eyelid and you did fall off the cool room larder.
Matt: Okay put that way, it sounds pretty bad. But we never made a mess! So –
Dan: Yeah…that’s – you didn’t make a mess…I used to try pee standing up all the time, and it just went everywhere. Just, ebbs all the time.
Matt: Yeah Dan was pretty disheartened when mum had to teach him to pee sitting down. But it wasn’t as weird as his obsession with suits, so that’s a bonus.
Dan: I don’t – I don’t think that’s weird. I don’t think –
Matt: We went to Bali and he got a tailor-made suit done and he said, “it has to have red silk lining!”
Dan: That was my favourite colour –
Matt: “It has to be black with a pinstripe, and it has to have three buttons, because anything less than three buttons is – “
Dan: Is smart casual, you gotta really balance it – but I just think for me, it’s the – when the Ferrari Formal ads would come on when I was younger I’d be like, “ooh, that’s a good suit.” But again, that’s not as weird as you having the obsession of being a phantom’s hairdresser, so…
Matt: Okay whoa, you said you wouldn’t bring that up!
Dan: Well you brought up my one!
Matt: Oh – okay well it’s not that weird that I wanted to cut someone’s hair in purple tights. There’s weirder things than being a phantom’s hairdresser.
Dan: Okay, like I said, we have our differences – we have our differences. But, we’ve always been really close, and I guess it came to a point where our worlds kind of didn’t make sense anymore, and that’s when we had to kind of start keeping things hidden from one another.
Matt: Yeah I think for me, that started in year six. So, I swapped schools, and it was a religiously affiliated school that I moved to. And I was sitting in sex education, which is weird enough in year six, like it’s already so peculiar, and the teacher got up and he was like, “does anyone have any questions?” And then looks down, because no teacher ever wants to answer the questions that the kids have when it comes to that. And so there I was, and I put up my hand –
Dan: You would’ve.
Matt: And I was like, “why are people gay?” And then the whole class bursts out laughing, there is not a dry eye in the household. And I was like, what on earth is going on? And he goes, “Matthew!”
Dan: You’re in trouble when he says your last name, or your full name.
Matt: When someone says your full name, you know you’re in trouble. And so he goes to me, “Matthew, that’s not appropriate, you need to see me after class.” As I was there, and I was a teacher’s pet – self-proclaimed teacher’s pet, that’s how much of a teacher’s pet I was – so I went back after class and I went up to him and I was like, “oh, before you answer my question, can I ask another one? Why did you respond that way?” And he goes, “you have to understand that a lot of parents would be very upset to find out that we’ve put ideas in kid’s heads today,” and I was like, “okay then…” And being that I didn’t even realise my own sexuality at the time, I didn’t realise how homophobic that was.
But then afterwards I was like, “okay so why do you think that people are gay?” And he ends up referencing a verse from Romans from the Bible, and the gist of it was that there was a community of people who sinned so often and so regularly that God gave them over to their lowest form of depravity, and only then did they end up sleeping with people of the same gender. So then he precurt that and was like, “so, sexual sin is really dangerous. If you start masturbating, then you’ll end up watching porn. And if you watch porn then you have sex out of wedlock. And if you have sex out of wedlock, then eventually you’ll end up just doing really depravious acts, like sleeping with the same gender and sleeping with animals.”
And so there I was in year six without realising even who I was yet, but having an understanding that gay and bestiality were in the same clan. I then went up to my friend and was like, “why did everyone laugh when I asked that question? I thought that was a pretty ordinary thing.” And he’s like, “oh don’t worry about it, it just looks bad because now people are gonna think you’re gay, because who would want to know that unless you were?” And that was probably the first time when I was like, “oh I’m not quite like everyone else in my age.”
Dan: Um, for me I was in year seven and it was lunch time and I was sitting around with my friends – they were all girls – and randomly you know, conversation comes up and they’re like, “if you could be a boy or a girl what would it be?” and I’m like, “obviously boy! What kind of question is that? Like, we’re pretty much just living this life because we have to, you know? It just happened. It’s clearly, you know, boy. Anyway, you guys go.” And they all went around the circle and they were like, “I see the pros, I see the cons, but –”and I was just like, “…yeah cool,” and then I was pretty much like, okay. There was something different. And it was that I hadn’t thought the way they had felt, and I hadn’t – there was just essentially, something different within what we were talking about. I knew that my opinions were not shared, and that I was different, and so I started keeping them to myself because I wasn’t like anyone else.
Matt: I think that moment when I started hiding things was a little later because I didn’t – not ‘realise’, but I didn’t ‘know-know’. I went to probably year eight – and this is going to sound like a massive stereotype and a massive cliché so I’m really sorry.
Dan: He’s not sorry.
Matt: Brokeback Mountain came out when I was thirteen and I used to watch the Oscars with my mum every year, and she was like, “Matt, Brokeback Mountain is getting so much praise, you have to watch it.”
So I went to bed one night and I was watching Brokeback Mountain – and if anyone’s seen the movie, about twenty minutes in, there’s a certain scene that if you’re attracted to men, you’re like, “oh, I just blushed a little bit too hard and my heart is racing just a little bit too much.” And so I had this moment where I was laying in bed and was like, “why do I want to rewind the movie so badly, why am I blushing, why am I nervous when there’s no one here? What is this feeling?” And so I got just under halfway through the movie and was like, “oh my god you’re gay”. You are – well I’m not shearing sheep or climbing mountains – but –
Dan: You are gay.
Matt: I’m gay, yeah. And so that was sort of a bit of a, ‘I-don’t-know-how-to-take-this’ moment, and five minutes later there’s a scene in the movie where they find a body in a gulley and the dad’s like, “that’s what happens to gay people. They get murdered and they get castrated but more than that, the police don’t care. And their families don’t care because that’s what happens to gay people, they’re alone in this life.”
So that was the moment that I was then like, “oh okay, not only do I know that I’m gay, I now know that I need to keep that a secret because that’s not appropriate – it’s not appropriate to feel that way.”
Dan: Yeah that’s okay. Look, I don’t blame you. Heath, heart-throb, right? I’m just saying. I just personally think like, I miss him.
Matt: Yep. Beautiful man. So that was sort of the beginning for me, especially for the next three years. There was sort of this moment where I was constantly trying to hide a part of myself. And because of that, I had no self-confidence except for this character that I sort of created, that didn’t listen to Britney spears or Christina Aguilera.
Matt: Then I was filled with self-loathing ‘cause from year six I was told that it was something that I did to myself, that if I hadn’t have thought certain thoughts, then I wouldn’t be in this position. And so I had a healthy dose of self-loathing on top of that, and then factor in guilt as well. It was just sort of a big old messy situation that ended in me crying myself to sleep for about three years – ‘cause I’ll be there praying to God and I’ll just go, “if you don’t want me to sin and I don’t want me to sin, let’s just cure this. Let’s just get it out of the way. Just please, cure me. I don’t want to feel this way.”
Dan: Trying not to get caught up in it, I guess.
Matt: Yeah. I was in this moment where I was so caught up in my own life that there were things I started missing. And so, whereas I was caught up in my life, Dan decided he would get caught up in everyone else’s so that he could avoid his own issues that he was going through.
Dana: Thanks babe.
Matt: Hey, if you weren’t playing psychologist to all of your friends, you probably wouldn’t –
Dan: I mean, you’re the one studying psychology right now so I don’t know why –
Matt: Yeah that is me now, not a thirteen-year old trying to be someone’s psychologist. Anyways, all I’m saying is that if you weren’t playing psych, you probably would have an easier journey or one that was just a little short, is all.
Dan: Oh okay. I do obviously agree that I did do that. But I guess in that situation you can only kind of do as well as you can in your position. And on that note, I think we will take you on another journey. But we would like to say – this journey is a family trip already and it’s going to go further, and you know on any trip you gotta bring your own backpack that you carry with you. And a little precursor, in this backpack is love. We love our family, and this is in the backpack that we’re gonna take.
Matt: We will precurse this – I know 110% that our mum and dad love us and that they accept us now, and we are more blessed than a lot of people. In saying that though, our parents did put us in a few hard positions in our life. Very proud to say that we grew from them, and didn’t let us – well it didn’t permanently get us down.
But so, just throwing it out there, our mum had a massive problem with alcohol when we were young. And for someone who was in year nine and needing to talk to someone, I remember l would look at my mum and be like, “you can’t even take care of yourself, you can’t even have basic self-control, how are you going to help me? How are you going to be able to support me?” Mix that then with my dad who was the son of a military man who also – we have a generational gap – is very much one of those, “I love you, here’s twenty dollars,” not one of the like, “I love you, let’s sit down and emotionally support you.”
So that sort of confounded into me running into religion quite heavily. Which instead of getting messages of acceptance that I probably needed, I got a lot of messages of homophobia. And the worst part was I internalised a lot of that because I respected the Church, because even though they didn’t know parts of me – they listened. And I didn’t have anyone else that was doing that at the time.
So there was a very vulnerable and very sensitive Matt, and I found my escape there. And unfortunately, that drove me and my mum further apart because my parents both weren’t religious. It’s something that I found by myself. And my mum hated that I became religious, so I very much distanced myself from that relationship. Which meant when she needed support it all fell on Dan, and I sort of left him hung and dry.
Dan: I don’t blame you.
Matt: I know but I blame me, I’m sorry.
Dan: Don’t blame you. It is true that I did step up earlier than my two older brothers with regards to the caretaker role of my mother. Though I will say that it was natural – because I was not the man that you see before you today! I was a young, confused child living life as a girl, so for me – for my two older brothers to dress your mother, that’s not – you know, that’s not appropriate. That’s my role to step into, and so it was hard because like I said, my oldest brother was travelling around the world at that time, and Matt was travelling in the pathway of the church. And so she [my mum] was like, “I’ve lost my two only sons!” And she would cry about it and everything, and she’d keep saying, “I’ve lost my two only sons,” and I’d be there in front of her, working through it being like – it breaks my heart that you can’t see what’s right in front of you.
You know what I mean? And we did work through that I guess, and you know that’s where I stayed – with her, in front of her, for years, whether it was to catch her tears or to catch her falls, or just to help her catch her breath. It was really important for me to do that and then even, once you – obviously have a lot of sleepless nights – and once you kind of get her settled, you then do the house chores because my dad was very ‘out of sight out of mind’. He’d go to bed and you know, whatever happened, happened. And when he’d wake up and see all the dishes are done, the house is in an okay shape, then your behaviour isn’t okay, but I’m not as disappointed. So, I kind of had to ease the conflict, because she was already so mad and so sad about herself, that she wouldn’t have been able to handle it from him as well.
So, yeah, it was definitely hard. There are a lot of memories that I cannot forget, that she does not remember. A lot of memories that she simply does not recall. I remember I’d be yawning at the breakfast table, nearly sleeping, and she’d be like, “What! Why are you yawning? You better not have been up all night watching T.V,” and I’d be like, “I’m sorry I had a late one, I just couldn’t sleep,” and then Matt would be like – he tried to step in a couple times and again, obviously I wanted to protect her, I was like, “no it’s okay.” You know what I mean? Like I said, he was one of the people who kind of knew what was going on behind, in the background. It did give me a gift in a way, because going into primary school and into high school if anyone was ever not okay, it was like, “Bacon, Bacon!” and I’d be all like, “this is a sign, I’m not even overwhelmed at all, this is great. This is good, it was relaxing! It’s kinda therapeutic.”
And then also being the child going through high school, I knew how bad it was at home and how much I struggled and how I could turn that away with a smile and no one would even know. So I knew what to look for. Whether I was walking through the hallways seeing someone two years younger, or two years older, or my same age, I’d know what to look for and I’d be able to pull them aside and break their walls down, and make sure they were okay, and make sure that they could accept themselves. And Matty’s right, it was a huge deflection. It was a huge distraction and I think just deep down, I was hoping – if I could save them, if I could save enough people, then maybe I could save myself.
Matt: So to say that there were some pretty dark days around this time for us both is a bit of an understatement, but you know. I was very very blessed though, and very very lucky, that I ended up having a teacher and a chaplain coming into my life at school, which sort of came to be because I was in drama class one day, and it was year twelve, so 2010, and WACE exams for young people is so much pressure already, factor in home life and self-hatred, trying to keep this secret constantly. And then a person in my grade passed away from a car accident, it all just confounded and it was too much. So I had this huge breakdown in drama one day, which is very gay of me, looking back. Even in the most theatrical place in school, I found a way to be more theatrical.
Dan: Not wrong.
Matt: So, the teacher grabs me and takes me outside and is like, “listen, you need to see the chaplain, I’m referring you to her because you – this needs to be talked about,” and so I was like, “yes sure of course I’ll go,” left drama and I was like, “I’m not going to see the chaplain. Like no, that’s not a thing that I’m doing.”
I go about my week and I go to class and up she [the chaplain] waltzes and says, “sorry can I just take Matt out of class,” and I was like, “sure…” So then get up and walk away, and at the time I was thinking, “I’m going to be reluctant. Like, I’m not telling you anything! I’m just gonna say that I watched My Girl or something and I was crying because of that.” Like, it was going to be completely not opening up at all. And then I sat there for five minutes and ended up confessing that I was very much a homosexual male, and all about my mum and my home life and yeah it all happened in like –
Dan: It’s just Fort Knox, nothing gets past him.
Matt: I’m really locked down –
Dan: Five minutes, that’s a record! You really held it out didn’t ya.
Matt: How dare you. So yeah I sat there and started walking through my same sex attraction, and it’s amazing those moments that change you, because that was the first time I had ever said those words and didn’t feel dirty. So the fact that I was able to do that was very very therapeutic, and I like to think that even if all of that didn’t go ahead, that I would’ve still gotten to this point – the moral of the story is that, that was the first step in me feeling proud, which when I look back on it, I’m like, I sort of deserve to be proud since day dot. So yeah, that was sort of a big moment for me.
Dan: Yeah, I guess for me relating to that situation, I wasn’t at a good place. It was definitely getting worse. Matt was sufficiently worried. I was kind of letting myself break down, in the comfort of my bedroom, alone, or in my study, alone. Which was, really nice, you know what I mean.
Matt: Yeah, he’d always be like, “oh I’m just stressed about assignments, that’s all.”
Dan: Yeah look, that was a lie, but it happens, there are definitely textbooks with tear stains on them, but that’s okay. And it got to a point one time when Matt came in and I was there looking at the assignment – you know, classic. And Matt’s like, “I think you should see someone,” and I was like, “no! No, no, no, no,” and he was like, “it really helped me, and I just think you should just see –“ and I was like, “get out Matt! Goodnight, goodnight. Love you, have a good sleep! I’m just going to sit here and do work all night, it’s fine.”
Next morning, he comes in at 7am, I’m still there just looking at my assignment and he’s just like – incomplete, desperation on my face – and he just knew how to play it. You know when your brother just knows how to get ya. He said –
Matt: I said, “you know if you go see her, she’ll give you an extension on your assignment.”
Dan: Hey honestly, that’s the kind of person I was! Look, I was desperate, my literature teacher was a dragon lady, so I was like, I’ve got no choice. I was very against it. You know what I mean? I did struggle with it, but I did the session, and I did get the extension as well.
Matt: Whereas I was the attempted Fort Knox, Dan’s like the literal Fort Knox.
Dan: If Matt’s reluctant, I’m impossible. It was more than five minutes for me, but we did the first session and she was like, “I think you should come back for another one,” and I was like, “nah, I’m alright, it’s okay. I got the extension so it’s alright,” and she was like, “maybe at least until you finish the assignment?” and I was like, “okay that’s not a bad idea, you know?”
Good to have in your back pocket there. But I guess for me, a huge reason why I had never opened up before and really struggled with it is because I had been dealing with this weight from my mother, and I knew the way – and the negative impact that her burden – had on me. And I just never wanted to be that to somebody else. And I held onto the fact that I could not be that to somebody else. I didn’t want to make anyone else feel the way I was feeling every day and every night.
But, I did go back to her [the school counsellor] and it was all under my conditions. It was on off periods. Every classroom had to be in, and I would then stealth around the school and pretty much break into her office. And if someone saw me, I would run away. You know, we did sessions, and bit by bit, she did break me down – with a lot of resistance. But yeah, it got me there. And I just think you know, to a place where she was like, “you’re not okay, you need to see a doctor,” and I was like, “I can’t. My parents can’t know, I can’t do that.” And obviously legally she couldn’t do anything without my parents’ consent, and I respect so much that she – you know what I mean? That she didn’t break my trust, and that she didn’t do that.
What happened is, the day after I graduated, where she was no longer my teacher, she picked me up, she drove me to the doctor, and I got diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety and I started therapy. And so for me, I would not be here today without her. I can say that confidently. That was my first real safe place. That was the first place where I could really unpack things and begin my journey of being self-aware. So I cannot speak more highly of that.
Matt: So whereas Dan was just starting the journey, I very much was in the middle of mine. I was one of those people that were like, “I’m not coming out, I’m not coming out,” – strap the glitter canon to your back, pull the thing, zzzz, spray it everywhere! I went from closeted Christian boy graduating high school to full-fledged Kinsey-six homosexual. But really like, by leaps and bounds.
So it was during that stage as well that I was in my second year of uni and I was like, “god my sex education was terrible, I should probably do an elective in sexology.” Which ended up being the best decision that I ever made because one, it led me towards the profession that I’m in now, which I absolutely love and worship – but two, it gave me a really good baseline education for what was gonna be really important later, in the way that I had really good abilities in doing education. I learnt a bunch about supporting people and most importantly, whereas I wasn’t there for Dan in high school, I sort of had a really good baseline that I could be there for him and be the brother that I always wanted to be. So yeah, sexology was the best thing that happened in that sense. Not your [Dan’s] number one best thing.
Dan: Yeah good, safe call. Yeah, if someone says loving yourself is easy, they’re lying to you. They’re lying.
Dan: They’re lying! Just check their faces, you gotta be careful with them. Just take a step back maybe, I dunno. But yeah, I did therapy, there was breakthroughs, there was multiple breakdowns, I can tell you that. I also realised that I had a crush on my best friend who was a girl. I realised I like women. And I was like, I’m gonna tell you [the therapist] in a therapy session! I’m gonna tell you this!
Matt: [whispers] I’m gonna tell ya!
Dan: So in the entire therapy session I was building myself up, but was like, “not now, not now, but soon–“ and she was like, “times up!” and I was like, “you’re kidding me right?” And so I – Matt picks me up and I’m there, just a bunch of nervous energy, and Matt’s in the car like, “what is going on with you?” And I’m like, “look Matt, I’m just – I think – look, I just think we need to talk.”
Matt: And I’m sitting there driving like, “yeah…?”
Dan: And I’m like, “hey Matt, you know how you like boys – you like boys and that’s cool like, I’m not – no judgement that’s so fine with me that’s cool – you know what I mean?”
Matt: And I’m there going like, “yeah…?”
Dan: “And you know – you know how you think like, guy on guy and that’s cool and – I don’t, but I think about it like a girl and a guy but like I think about the girl – but like, I’m the guy. But like, I think – I think about the girl, you know?”
Matt: And so I’m there and I’m like, “Dan, maybe you should come to the court with me sometime. It’s a really fun place.”
Dan: And I was like, “okay.”
Matt: So I say all that, but little does Dan know that I’m sitting there like, “my brother’s transgender.”
Dan: Yeah, I actually was like, “I just came out as a lesbian!” So I had no idea what transgender was, you know what I mean. I told my family, they were not surprised, and then I started dating –
Matt: The lesbian – Dan told the lesbian part and they weren’t surprised.
Dan: Oh yeah, the second bit yeah…
Matt: The second bit, whoa.
Matt: We’ll get there.
Dan: We’ll get there, wait for it! And so you know, I told my family I was lesbian, and I started dating my first girlfriend. She was kinda like, “hmm okay…” – she was quite educated and was like, hey, this is what transgender is and I was like, “oh, that’s really what I want!” and she was like, “okay,” and I was like, “I can’t do it,” and she was like, “why?” and I was like, “I was a test tube baby, and my parents designed me to be a girl, so that would break their heart.” And she was like, “you do realise you not being yourself – you’re only breaking yours.” And I was like, “yeah you are right.”
And after a lot of struggles for a couple of years, I finally sat my parents down and was like, “hey look, I’m transgender.” And the first thing – it wasn’t received as well – and the first thing my dad said to me was, “you’ll never be a boy,” and the first thing my mum said to me was, “who’s going to love you?” which was – again it was hard, but at the same time I knew that they were confused.
They didn’t know what it was, they were scared because their entire vision of what they imagined for my life was crumbling around them, they didn’t know what this meant for me and I was like, I want to tell the family, because I’m close with my family and they were like, “no, don’t do that.” And I think they were kind of worried maybe it wasn’t the right decision, that I didn’t know what I was talking about, and for me I actually respected that wish, because I knew when I transitioned, it wasn’t just me transitioning. It was my parents transitioning, it was my brothers transitioning, it was my whole family transitioning. It was my friends, it was complete strangers. And it was a journey that I wanted them to be on with me. And so I held back telling people for a little while, out of respect, so that we could do it together. And although they were really scared, I was really excited.
Matt: So flashing forward to the more optimistic part of this story. Where I’m at now is I’ve finished my undergrad in health promotion and I now work for the Western Australian Aids Council, so I’m the health and promotion officer for gay and bisexual men’s health. My role there is all around holistic gay and bisexual men’s health, funnily enough. We do a lot of workshops and education, on self-esteem, how to navigate gay community as well as a lot to do with safer sex practices and different sexual behaviours. I also work for the youth affairs counsellor of Western Australia doing safe sex education with high school students, so a lot of consent and respect messaging, which is where I love being with heterosexual youth. On top of that, I’m finishing my maters in sexology as well, so it’s all, “sex, sex, sex, sex!”
Dan: Don’t ask him what his hobbies are, just don’t. It’s the imagination part of it.
Matt: Mum learnt to stop asking me what I learnt that day. I said, “do you know the clitoris?” and she was like, “please don’t, I don’t need to learn about that from my gay son. That’s cool.”
Dan: That’s a fair point to be fair.
Matt: So yeah that’s sort of where I’m at now.
Dan: I guess picking up from where I left off with my parents, I did obviously wait a little bit till they were more comfortable, and I said, “look, we’ve given it a bit of time, but I want to tell the rest of the family. It’s important to me.” So I made the decision to actively phone each family member or meet up with them in person and just tell them. I wanted them to know my hardships, but I wanted them to know that this is a good thing. It’s a good thing for me, but it’s a good thing for our family. And it was received with open arms. They were – they knew I wasn’t okay, and they realised this made sense and [they were like] we were happy for you. And then I pretty much got to tell the world and that was also received really positively. And I am very lucky because not everyone gets to sit on this side of the story and be able to say that. I then obviously had been on hormones for quite a while now, got top surgery so that’s a weight off my chest. I mean, literally.
And since then I guess, for me, it’s just crazy to think that where I’m at to this day. Because I never – I would’ve struggled to believe that I would’ve got here. For so long I couldn’t see a tomorrow. I had been through the depression and the anxiety and the suicidal ideation and the suicidal attempts and – do you know, to kind of come out on the other side and accept and love yourself and be able to believe and know who you are in the present through your past, helps you see a brighter future.
And so it’s also funny, because I was the person who could never talk about anything. But now, I’m like, if you need help, you should talk to somebody. Get professional help, open up to your friends, open up to your family. Communication is honestly so key, and for someone who could just never talk about their emotions, I now write and perform poetry which is like – life is funny like that, I mean I’m like, “hey guys, this is my soul in a line right now,” and it’s like eleven-year-old me is like, “what are you doing?!” But you know –
Matt: Conceal don’t feel!
Dan: Of course you do, I’m not surprised – okay. But yeah, I just think it’s kinda funny how life works out like that.
Matt: Yeah and then I suppose the reason why I agreed to do tonight is something I call ‘queer resilience’, which is all around this deep sense of knowing yourself but you’re like, my family might hate me, my friends might hate me and I might be left alone in this world – but I know myself so well that if I don’t do this, there isn’t a life. So I’m just going to chance everything and I’m just gonna lay it on the line, and in that process you sort of win yourself. So, you could lose people, but you win you.
That was sort of the first thing that I really wanted people to take from this night. I guess the next thing as well is that, because of my experiences with sex education which very much moved me towards what I do now, it just sort of, to emphasise – there’s a lot of things in this world that feel really natural for people, and when shame and stigma and guilt is attached to those really natural body autonomy things, it’s so dangerous. And again, I had so much guilt and I’ve got friends that are both gay, straight, bi – all colours of the rainbow – that still don’t feel comfortable talking about sex, and it’s one of the most bizarre things in this world to me, and that what shaped what I want to do, and that’s another thing that I wanted, as a ‘take home message’.
Dan: I just love how passionate he is – he is just so passionate. And I guess for me it’s just really kind of coming full circle. In a lot of ways, just figuring out who you are and taking the time to. Because when I was younger I used to be like, what’s a sex change? Like, what’s that? And now I’m like, I’ve literally done that. Like, I’ve literally done that!
And that’s me, and it’s just with every day, there’s nothing but reassurance. And there’s nothing like, this is who I am, and this is the life I was meant to have lived. And I often say, “what a time to be alive!” Because it really is for me, and getting to that point of loving and accepting myself has obviously changed my life, and I want everyone to feel that. I’m grateful for people in my life who have got me here, for all the hardships as well, because they’ve let me get to this point.
And the fact that I can sit here and be able to say I love where I am and I love who I am is really incredible. I guess me and Matt both have a big love for people and we want to allow people to just be themselves, because for so long we weren’t. We were supressed, and we see the detriment of that, and I’m just very thankful for everyone I’ve shared my life with, but no more than this guy right here. Honestly, the way he lives his life and just the strength and the optimism and just the pride and the honesty and just how authentic he is, allows me every day to do it as well. So that’s –
Matt: There isn’t a life without you little brother.
Dan: That’s us.
Host: Does anyone have any questions?
Matt: We’re super approachable. I know we’re like sitting in the corner, we’re like baby in the corner over here but please ask away. Tonight’s your ability to shamelessly ask all the questions that you would want to ask someone because we’re open books.
Guest: It’s a random one. When you first came out, what was the song that you danced to most?
Dan: That’s a great question!
Matt: Oh my goodness, stop it.
Dan: Listen, I was always a Whitney Houston fan, so there was that. And there was also – oh it’s such a stereotype, so bad! But my go to ‘get-me-through’ song is Don’t Rain on My Parade. But yeah – from Funny Girl the musical – and my mother was shocked when I came out so, riddle me this! Good old anthems.
Host: Can I ask you a question Dan? It’s something we touched on when we were workshopping together, I hope you don’t mind me sharing.
Dan: No, that’s alright.
Host: You were saying before you transitioned, you were kind of trying to imagine what your future would look like and what you wanted to do with your life. I remember I ran into you shortly after you’d started the process and I hadn’t seen you in a while, and we were kind of just catching up, and you told me and was saying how liberating it was. And you remember thinking that – feeling that – before you started that process, you couldn’t see a future for that woman. You couldn’t see a future for that person that you were, and so when people would ask you, “what do you wanna do? What are you gonna do?” you were like, “nothing, because this isn’t me.” And when you started that process you were like, “okay, now my life can actually begin.”
Dan: Yeah, makes sense. So in the conversation when we sat down, I made sure Matt was there with me when we sat down with my parents, because I wanted to make sure someone there was educated when we did this. The first thing my dad said was, “you’re never going to be a boy,” then my mum was like, “who’s ever going to love you?” Then my dad was like, “how can you make such a big decision, you can’t even decide what you want to do at uni!” and I’m like, “how do I know what I want to do if I don’t even know who I am?” You’re asking me what this girl wants to do ten years down the track and I’m like, this girl doesn’t have a future, so I can’t answer that question. If I stay as this person, I’m not going to be around for it. Whereas now, as Daniel – as soon as I started transitioning and being myself – everyone’s like, “you’re so much more different now, you’re so much happier!” And I’m like, “yeah, I can’t wait to do this and do that” – where I’ve never even had that ability, and it was just because it wasn’t an option, because I wouldn’t have been able to sustain it – because it wasn’t me.
Host: I just remember thinking how it was so powerful when you put it that way ‘cause it was like you kind of almost had this – that was your real identity, and you were just kind of living this life that didn’t identify with you and that you didn’t feel comfortable with. And I think sometimes, people can think of transgender people as like – you just ‘decide’, and now it’s like you’re the same person, you’ve just changed. But it’s two separate things, and that’s the person that you always were meant to be and you wanted to be in your life, and couldn’t start until then.
Dan: Yeah, pretty much.
Host: Thank you Matt and Dan!