Cassandra Hymers shares her 'coming out' story as a trans woman

'We are all human': Out South West co-chair Cassandra Hymers. Photo: Pip Waller.
'We are all human': Out South West co-chair Cassandra Hymers. Photo: Pip Waller.

As a child, Cassandra Hymers said she wanted to have the superpower to change shape.

She remembers telling her school friends it was so she could rob a bank and then change into someone else in order to escape.

But unknowing to those around her, the real reason for picking that superpower, was that she could change into a female and never change back.

After years of wearing 'feminine' clothing in the safety of her own home and battling with gender dysphoria, Ms Hymers, born a male, officially transitioned to female when she was in her 40s.

She said looking back, there were so many incidents in her life that hinted at her being transgender, starting from "crying herself to sleep" at seven years old while wishing she was a girl.

"I remember a couple of times as a child I would wear girls bras and underwear under my school clothes with a big jacket over the top," Ms Hymers said.

"Then in my adolescent years I started cross dressing, but because of society I felt ashamed of it and kept it very hidden.

"I was like, something is weird about me, I'm attracted to wearing women's clothing and I don't know why."

At 18, Ms Hymers "repressed" her actions due to being told it was "wrong".

Out South West co-chair Cassandra Hymers with fellow committee member (events and entertainment) Brad Hartley.

Out South West co-chair Cassandra Hymers with fellow committee member (events and entertainment) Brad Hartley.

But after she got married at 20 years old and had her first child, she said the desire to dress as a woman "crept back in".

"I still had to keep it a secret.

"I remember a couple of times having to run to the toilet and quickly getting changed out of a dress because my family would come home early.

"I remember sitting in marriage seminars and hearing, guys are like this and girls are like that. But I was like, I'm like that, so where do I fit in?"

After telling her now ex-wife and her seven children, who all accept her transition, Ms Hymers says she was able to "break away" from her religion and come out as a trans woman.

But she said it still wasn't easy due to a lack of information on being transgender, plus a lack of societal understanding.

"I just got to a point where I couldn't hold it back anymore," Ms Hymers said.

"I worked as a relief teacher and I'd come home, run into my house, rip off my work clothing and throw on a dress, and it was like being able to breathe.

"It was like I'd held my breath all day and then suddenly I could breathe again."

After telling her friends and feeling their "safety net", Ms Hymers, who would usually get home, get changed into skirt and a blouse, and then get changed out of them again, went to the shops for the first time dressed as a woman.

She said the hardest part of coming out in public was the stares she received, negative comments and people sometimes making a point to over pronounce 'sir' when talking to her.

"The dirty looks have to be the worst, but I just got to a point where I had to choose to either be depressed for the rest of my life, or just get out there.

"It's still tricky and I just want people to know that trans people aren't trying to push themselves onto society, we're just scared.

"I didn't enter a female toilet until six months into my hormone replacement therapy, and that was out of desperation.

"A friend of mine in Perth came out of the women's toilet and a random guy said in front of her, 'if I ever see one of those freaks come out of the toilet I'm going to beat them up'. Imagine what that is like."

Today, Ms Hymers said she was "in a good place", although she still struggles slightly with things associated with masculinity, such as wearing pants or shorts.

After work I would come home, run into my house, rip off my work clothing and throw on a dress, and it was like I could breathe again."

Cassandra Hymers

She is a teacher to "high end needs students" at College Row School in South Bunbury and said it was an inclusive, supportive environment and a "very fulfilling" place to work.

She offered the following advice for people in the South West community:

"If you are dealing with a trans person and you mis-gender them, just make a short apology, correct yourself and move on.

"Don't make a big song and dance about it, once it's done, we forget it very quickly."

Ms Hymers, who has been co-chair of Out South West for three years, invites the community to the groups annual PrideFEST event held at the Graham Bricknell Memorial Music Shell on November 20.

For a gold coin donation, community members of all identities can enjoy live entertainment from drag queens Fanta Sea and Barry Mundi, market stalls and "the freedom to be themselves".

Ms Hymers said anyone in the South West community who needed support with their transition was welcome to reach out to her and to join in in the group's coffee catch ups held once a month.

To find out more, visit Out South West on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/outsouthwestwa.