Ways In or Ways Out

Since coming out four and a half years ago I often like to think back on feelings and thoughts I had when struggling with the idea that my life may potentially change and it was such an unknown. I have often been asked what did it feel like? How did you know?

Then its like how do I describe this?

So I often liked to think of a door. It is a door you never open and avoid going near. Often I found I would mentally imagine locking it with chains hoping it could never be opened and maybe it would be covered over never to be found.

Why a door? Doors are parts of structures which may be opened or closed in order to control and restrict access. BUT a door may also metaphorically refer to portals and other non-physical entrances. In literature, doors often represent choices or outcomes. In this case it symbolizes the transition and passageway from one place to another in my life.

What is behind that door? This is the door many of us never open, it is the potential “maybe” or “what if” in our life. I was afraid of what I couldn’t see in life and restricted myself in so many ways. I was taught to fear everything in life because everything was bad. I believed as we grow and new challenges face us we need to reflect of those lessons learned and we “see” the next door to start the next lesson or the next stages of our lives.

The doors never really close right away when we go through them and they remain open as long as we need but eventually they do need to close. We go through many challenges in our lives and when we are ready we make that step forward through there. Well I struggled when that door appeared. I was about 4 or 5 and each time I wanted to open it or go near it I was told no and that was one of the worst doors ever. It always made me curious because I wanted to open it so badly and my whole body ached to but I couldn’t. In a way it was like side rooms opened up that connected to that next room but they opened easily and I went those ways but the door to the previous room never closed. I would revisit where I came from sometimes being lost and not recognizing this previous space as if I was in a loop emotionally and blinded by what I must do to grow. This happened for 36 years.


So I was never growing and was stuck in the same place essentially but thinking I was growing. Hiding my femininity or changing my surname, or getting married was like repainting the same room over and over.

That door for me, as I imagined, was my female life and self behind that door. Sometimes I would mentally go to it and sit in front of it with my back facing and talk through the door when things became tough. Even though she was trapped and hidden her voice brought me comfort but I was ashamed to speak to her face to face or tell anyone else about that door, so I hide it and covered it up. I would put chains across the handles and keep it closed. Occasionally in my life I would open the door just enough when no one was looking to sneak a peek inside and speak to her and find comfort in her presence. Eventually she found a way to sneak into the room with me. While there with her I found I was getting lost in a world of pleasant personal thoughts ignoring the world of worries I had, judgments by family and friends, and ongoing fears. Allowing myself to sit with her through a cracked door or in the room with me it robbed my attention from the present moment. She would bring me comfort and take away the pain that I felt. But each time she left I would put another chain on hoping it could never be opened again.

I remember moments through the years when I felt like I was preparing to open the door and go through it. I cleaning around it. and try to close all the side doors I opened. It was never successful and it made more of a mess around me.

stephanie-flores-483863-unsplashLooking around me I didn’t realize that things were falling apart . But I remember when she forced her self back into my room. I was tired. It was like a series of bullets came through the walls and my body dropped and couldn’t go on. She opened started to clear the doorway for me. She started to calm me and prepare the door to be opened and it was like she knew what needed to be down even though I resisted.

I remember when people said to me it was like Daniel died. Some say that Michelle killed Daniel and took his place. I like to think that it was Michelle that saved Daniel.

Daniel became tired and weak and unwell and was unable to open the door himself. She was able to hold him and help him rest and basically said its okay i’ll take it from here. I do feel the more I do as Michelle the need to have Daniel there becomes less and less relevant. I think in some ways I feel guilty and now instead of going forward through a door to live I hold myself back by not closing that previous door. The thought of not having a reference to Daniel anymore does bring me sadness because at some point he cannot continue this journey.

There are these moments recently when I knew HOW I identified before and how I would react to situations before but when I look in the mirror and stare at my reflection I often see something else and questioned myself, repeatedly because I feel this need to hold on to all of me but I know I can’t forever.


See going through Transition is a difficult and endless process, it doesn’t really end and we forget that the rest of society around us going through their own form of transitions as well. So for me this is the feelings I felt. Now that I have opened up myself to who I was meant to be the doors become more solid and each room I only see briefly as i move through them at a rapid pace like i am playing catch up.

Now when making the decision to pursue gender transition in our lives it can’t be taken lightly because being trans is what you are when you’ve exhausted every other option. There are different types of transgender people coming from many different backgrounds with a variety of stories to tell.

Mine is only one of thousands.

Published by mishsheppard

Michelle's powerful combination of self and community shines through the platform of radio which has helped raised the public profile and national dialogue of transgender, gender diverse and intersex issues on a national scale. Surprisingly nothing is off limits with Michelle who connects with her audience brilliantly; obviously through her humor and unapologetic blunt honesty. She is often labelled as an inspiring advocate and role model for youth and adults alike and hers is a powerful story to tell. We know that when a woman has the support of her community, especially her sisters, she is unstoppable. Michelle’s wider support from the women around her, LGBTI+ or ally alike, has helped develop her own unstoppable resilience and body positive confidence that she inspires others with. Now a sought-after public speaker Michelle is admired for her bold public representation of the Transgender community as works to break through the barriers of unconscious bias, cultural and structural issues to ensure equality of opportunity for all Australian work spaces. Winner of the ANZ Excellence in Business Award, ‘LGBTI Jobs’ a relatively new project, they pair LGBTI graduates and jobseekers to companies that embrace inclusion initiatives. “We’ve started a business that helps anybody who’s in the LGBTI Community. We go to companies and see what they are you doing. This isn’t just for me, this is for the entire community and we are going to make a massive change.” Michelle was recently celebrated alongside some truly amazing individuals from our community as part of the ‘The LOTL Power List 2016’ as someone who does everything in their power to make life that little bit better for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities: sometimes with blood, sweat and tears; and sometimes just by being themselves. Michelle is also a finalist for ‘MTV – LGBTI Broadcaster and Presenter’ in the Australian LGBTI Awards 2017. Awards Globe Awards 2016 - ANZ Excellence in Business Award The LOTL Power List 2016 (28/40) Finalist for ‘MTV – LGBTI Broadcaster and Presenter’ in the Australian LGBTI Awards 2017

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