Shanna’s struggle in the wrong body

Shanna Steyn, of Merriwa.Picture: Martin Kennealey         d443667
Shanna Steyn, of Merriwa.Picture: Martin Kennealey         d443667

HER gender is a constant source of unhappiness for Shanna Steyn.

The 20-year-old Merriwa resident has identified as male most of her life.

“Since I was a kid I always thought I was a boy,” Shanna said.

“My parents just thought I was a tomboy, so I just kept going the way I thought I was.

“Then eventually when I was halfway through primary school, nearing high school, Mum started telling me to start wearing girly clothes and things because, you know, you’re growing up and I was like, I don’t want to do that, I don’t want to wear girls’ clothes, what is she talking about?”

Shanna said feelings regarding her gender identity intensified in her early teenage years.

“I saw an article in the newspaper about someone who was transgender and that’s when I knew that’s what I have to do to be happy,” she said.

“I decided I’m going to get a job and start saving and get this done but then everyone, all my friends that I could talk to about it said, ‘Just wait, don’t do it yet,’ because they obviously didn’t know how serious I was.

“They told me, ‘Wait until you’re at least 19, then make your decision’ so I listened to them and only really became more serious about it a year and a half ago.”

Shanna has struggled with depression over the past several years, which she said created a vicious cycle, as she was often unable to work and in turn save money.

She decided to turn to others for help raising money for gender reassignment surgery, which she was told could cost more than $50,000.

“At first, I wanted to do this all myself, to save for everything myself but it wasn’t getting anywhere, so I decided to start the Go Fund Me page,” she said.

“I don’t really like asking people for money, so it feels weird.

“As soon as I get a job, as my depression has been playing up, then I can start saving towards it as well.”

She has raised $1170 so far and will use the initial funds to see a psychologist, which she is currently unable to afford.

Though her parents are supportive, they are not in a position to contribute much money.

“They’re very accepting, both of them, they just want me to be happy,” she said.

“When I first told my dad, I thought he was going to be the one to be like, ‘What?’ but as soon as I told him, he said that he went through all my old pictures from when I was younger and told me how uncomfortable I looked in dresses and how happy and playful and energetic I was just being myself.”

Shanna has a friend in Melbourne who underwent gender reassignment and provides some support but said she does not identify as a transgender person.

“I see myself as male,” she said.

“I always had the feeling, I was always attracted to females and boys were always just my best mates and nothing more.

“I never felt comfortable in my body; I don’t know how you explain it.”

She believes transitioning to male is what she needs to be happy.

“I would be a lot happier; at the moment I’m barely confident to even go to the shops,” she said.

“Every single thing, every day, it affects me.

“People don’t know how hard every day that goes by is unless they are in the same situation.”

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