Writer and former military official Catherine McGregor has publicly apologised for her previous stance against the Safe Schools program.

Writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, McGregor said her mind had been changed by a young trans man, Charles O’Grady, with whom she recently worked on a theatre production.

“[O’Grady] told me how much he resented me for my stance on Safe Schools in 2016 and for my life as a soldier,” McGregor wrote.

“He found me incomprehensible. A fascist at best, and a tool of the Australian Christian Lobby in its vile war on trans people at worst.”

McGregor said that rather than fighting, the two began talking openly, and are now “dear friends”.

“I understood exactly why he felt as he did,” she wrote.

“He penetrated my defences and challenged me to review my own behaviour.

“Many young trans people believed in me at one time. I had never fully grasped the extent of the hope that I had inspired in them.”

She acknowledged that she had been wrong to oppose the Safe Schools program.

“I dashed their hopes and broke their hearts over my criticism of Safe Schools,” she wrote.

“I was too selfish, too ideological, and too combative.”

McGregor said she had come to understand how her experiences differed from those of many young trans people.

“I had a limited, arguably obsolescent view of how gender variance manifests among contemporary teens,” she admitted.

“My model worked for me. Indeed, it was integral to my survival and sense of self.

“But that is not how O’Grady lives and expresses his gender.

“Neither of us are wrong.”

She added that she regretted supporting transphobic conservatives.

“Even more to my chagrin, I failed to anticipate the ammunition I offered to those like Miranda Devine and Lyle Shelton who refuse outright to accept the reality and legitimacy of trans identity,” she wrote.

“In light of the harm I did to many and the friendships that I lost, I deeply regret my actions.

“I wish to apologise to all those I harmed or disappointed. I made a mistake and threw the baby out with the bath water.”

McGregor said young trans people are “doing it tough”.

“Mainly because of cruel religious fanatics and their enablers like Devine,” she wrote.

“The ignorance and hate directed against them is killing them.”

She apologised to those she may have harmed with her past views, adding that she forgave the people she had clashed with.

“We may not agree always,” she wrote.

“But we need one another.”

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