The opening words of Lisa Wilkinson’s interview with 90s Home And Away star Mat Stevenson and his transgender daughter Grace Hyland is not Lisa’s opening voiceover, but rather a haunting vocal track which sings the question “Is this choice, or is this fate?” And it’s a fitting opening for a moving and important interview, especially for the young people who were watching that might be questioning their life experience or the parents who can see their child struggling but may not know how to bring up this life changing question.
When asked how old she was when she first thought she might be transgender, Grace’s eloquence, and well, grace shines through in her answers and it makes you feel for all of the transgender kids out there without such an amazing support network.
“As young as maybe 4 or 5, just really feeling that I was a girl, I just couldn’t explain and I just thought I was weird or destined for a life of unhappiness.
“I came out at 12 and then I went through a gradual transition until I was 14, to grow my hair out, to get my name change sorted, to sort out my blockers and then by the time I was 14, I was fully presenting as Grace to the public and at school.”
When asked about her coming out process, Grace shares with Lisa that she first told her step mum “and I wrote it down on the post-it-note because I was too scared to initially say that I was a transgender woman but she was so supportive and really helped me navigate telling everyone.”
He was also asked about how his friends had reacted to the news his child was transitioning to be his daughter.
“I’m a member of the local cricket club. One of the boys came up to me and said, ‘Stevo, I just, I don’t get it, mate. I just don’t get it.’ I said, ‘It’s okay, buddy, you don’t have to get it. All I’m asking you is to love my daughter and show some empathy.’
“Sadly in this country, we have a really high adolescent suicide rate and it’s a tragedy. Trans-adolescents are 36 times more likely to self-harm, to commit suicide,” Stevenson went on to explain. “There’s a distinct correlation between lack of support and self-harm. I didn’t want my daughter to become one of those statistics.”
“I remember the day that her Vanity Fair cover came out everyone was talking about it and then I know for myself I had to answer a lot less questions.”
And to compliment her Dad’s 90s run at heart throb status on Home And Away, Grace is bringing a little star power of her own into the household with over 130,000 followers on TikTok after starting to do TikToks through quarantine to keep herself busy, with her audience ‘blowing up’ after she decided to open up in a video about being transgender.
When asked what she would say to any young people watching the interview who might be feeling similar feelings to those that she might have been having at the beginning her journey, Grace says, “It’s ok to feel how you feel, you don’t have to know all of the answers straight away. These things do take time. Then for parents who are scared for their child’s future just know that with your support they can have such a happy life but they really do need your support.”
For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14