Aleana Robins is a wonderful woman, but she was a terrible man.
For as long as she can remember, the 49-year-old knew something wasn’t quite right.
Born in Riverside California, up until about two years ago Ms Robins went by the name Alan.
When she was 12 years old she said reached a crisis point and decided to end her own life.
At the time she was living in an abusive home and was grappling with her own identity.
The term transgender was not something she was familiar with.
“I decided I wanted to end it. I walked outside in the middle of freezing weather and stayed out for half a night thinking – I will catch pneumonia. I wanted to die,” she said.
“I remember walking outside, we had moved from California to Washington, so I wasn’t used to snow. And I was so depressed at that time.
“Being trans, now on reflection I can think OK I have always been this way.
“I just didn’t have the words to have the understanding behind it.”
Looking back, Ms Robins said she would tell her 12-year-old self – ‘it will get better’.
The son of a “military extreme”, Ms Robins father was a war veteran with 26 years of service in both the marine corps and the air force.
As Ms Robins explained, her father was everything she wanted to be, but couldn’t.
Her mother also struggled to accept her for who she was, leading to an abusive relationship.
“I was bullied at home and I was bullied at school,” Ms Robins said.
“I was always a little different and I have always struggled not only with that, but within myself to be like my dad.
“I wanted to be like my dad because in my mind he was my hero. He was everything I wanted to be, but couldn’t.
“Being transgender, we would love to be able to wake up in the morning and be either A or B, not sitting in the middle and having the battle within ourselves.”
For the past 16 years Ms Robins has called Tasmania home.
She is a father to seven children – three who are fully grown and living in the United States, one who is living in Melbourne, and three aged between eight and 12, who she is currently raising in Ravenswood where she has lived for the past three years.
And while her medical transition to become a woman only started three years ago, Ms Robins said the path to becoming Aleana had been a long one.
“Something that I think people need to realise is that trans people don’t just one day come out and say – surprise, I want to be a woman or a man now,” she said.
“It is a very difficult path to open up and say, ‘I am transgender, I have always been this way, I just haven’t told anybody’.
“I have always known I was trans. Well not trans because honestly I didn’t really know what was going on.
“But when you look at what took place with me, I knew something wasn’t quite right.
“You look in the mirror and think, no I don’t look like that.
“That doesn’t look like me, in my head. It is a difficult time to understand that as a child.
“My mother didn’t take it well and she became incredibly abusive.
“I went from having parents who were loving and caring, then you change one dynamic and its over.”
In July the state government confirmed it was reviewing laws that force transgender individuals to divorce their spouses.
Under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act, married transgender individuals who have gender-changing surgery cannot change the sex on their birth certificates unless they divorce their spouses.
The same law prevents a transgender person from changing the sex on their birth certificate, unless they have gender-changing surgery.
Ms Robins said politics aside, every person deserved the right to equal treatment.
“It seems really silly to me, but I am glad they are bringing it to the forefront and saying – let’s fix this,” she said.
“I think equality should be equal for everybody. I think we have had some wonderful leaders throughout the years who have said – ‘what is good for one should be good for another’.
“It shouldn’t matter the colour of your skin, your gender, where you were born, you should be treated equal.”
As for her role as a father, Ms Robins said no one had ever been more supportive of her true self than her children.
“My kids know and they don’t care,” she said.
“In fact my son, who is 12 years old, sits there and goes – that’s my dad, but she is OK.
“He uses the correct pronouns, because I am dad. I am happy with that.
“Because I use to wake up and think, I hate what I am wearing.
“I hate the way I feel. I did not look in the mirror for 40-something years, I was terrified of my reflection.
“I did not like what I saw, and that is really hard on a persons mental health.
“When you get to that point where it is a need and you start taking those steps.
“My counsellor tells me all the time, you are such a wonderful woman, but you were a terrible man.”
- For assistance: Lifeline 13 11 14; Sexual Health Services Launceston 6777 1371; Working It Out 6231 1200 or 0429 346 122.