Collie-resident Kai Vincent shares their story for International Transgender Day of Visibility

Comfort in your own skin: Kai encouraged the Bunbury community to be kind to each other and not judge based on gender or sexual orientation. Picture: Pip Waller
Comfort in your own skin: Kai encouraged the Bunbury community to be kind to each other and not judge based on gender or sexual orientation. Picture: Pip Waller

COLLIE-resident Kai Vincent said their name came to them in a dream they had just days before they began their gender transition.

In a ballroom filled with long mirrors on the walls, Kai dreamt they were dancing with a male partner.

But when they looked up in the mirror, they themselves were the male.

"I could see in the mirror I was wearing a nice, tailored suit," Kai said.

"And then I heard this voice saying, it's time to wake up Kai.

"And that's how I picked my name."

Assigned female at birth, Kai shared their transition journey so far with the Mail in an effort to help provide education and awareness of the discrimination still sometimes faced by those who identifies as transgender in the South West community.

The conversation was particularly important as International Transgender Day of Visibility was acknowledged and celebrated around the world on March 31.

At 24 years old, Kai said it wasn't until they moved out of their family home two years ago that their gender transition began.

"I remember I went onto TikTok and I saw a lot of people coming out, or just being part of the LGBTQIA+ community when I thought, I'm attracted to that," Kai said.

"So I started doing a lot of research and went through the process of finding out who I was.

"First I tried to define my sexually - thinking I was bisexual, then pansexual and then demisexual.

"Which then made me think about my gender - I was identifying as non binary, then hovered between male and female.

"And then it eventually clicked that I was trans."

If you find your support you can get through and if you need to talk, we are all there for you."

Kai Vincent

Upon realising they identified as a transgender man, Kai began therapy as a constructive tool to help reach acceptance.

They said although they "didn't realise" they were transgender until they were an adult, therapy provided a lot of 'ah ha' moments.

"Initially I just thought I was a tomboy growing up because I didn't like playing with toys specifically for girls and I always wanted to be outdoors," Kai said.

"But I also wore girls clothes, like to my high school ball.

"But there was always this feeling of something not being right, which I didn't know how to define at the time."

Shortly after beginning therapy, Kai then took on the somewhat difficult task of sitting down with their mum to 'come out'.

They said their family was very supportive even though they at first did not understand.

"When I sat down with mum and told her, it was a long process for her to understand what I was going through but she's definitely getting there," Kai said.

"Once I came out to her, I came out socially and then medically to a doctor.

"Socially now, I just walk up to people and say hi, my name is Kai and this is me, I just own it."

Despite being met mostly with support, Kai shared the challenges of coming out as transgender in a smaller community, stemming from limited understanding of the community, to a perceived lack of gender affirming doctors in the region.

"A lot of help that we need to get in our transition, which involves hormone replacement therapy and gender confirmation surgery is not available here in the South West - so we have to travel to Perth a lot.

"In terms of acceptance, it's getting a lot better in both Collie and in Bunbury, but there are still people who are hesitant.

"But I think people are slowly getting there.

"I'm studying social work at Edith Cowan and I hope to continue advocating and creating awareness of our youth in the LGBTQIA+ community."

Kai also shared the negative implications that being referred to as their 'dead name' could bring about.

"When you are trans and you hear your dead name, the name you are given at birth, you can sometimes get gender dysphoria," Kai explained.

"It's hard as well when your dead name is very popular like mine which is a name of a song.

"So whenever I hear it on the radio, my brain can go into meltdown."

Kai, who is in the beginning stages of their transition, shared with the Mail that they are now in the process of beginning Hormone Replacement Therapy in the form of testosterone injections.

After undergoing the therapy for 12 months, they will then move onto 'top surgery' which involves the surgical removal of the female breasts in order to achieve a more masculine appearance.

They said the next step was to then apply to the Western Australian Gender Reassignment Board to officially change their name on their birth certificate.

Kai offered the following message to anyone who identifies or is in the beginning stages of identifying as transgender in the South West.

"Just know that there are people out there to support you - including OutSouthWest and me personally.

"If you find your support you can get through and if you need to talk, we are all there for you.

"If you don't understand someone who is trans, please try to educate yourself - don't be rude, be kind to everyone, no matter what their gender or sexuality is."

In addition to OutSouthWest, members of the LGBTQIA+ community can seek support from online group Transfolk of Western Australia, PFLAG Bunbury (parents and friends of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or questioning) and the WA Aids Council.