At the age of 65, one Tamworth farmer is the perfect example of how it’s never too late to be yourself.
Dianne Harris was born presenting as male but from as early as five years old, knew she was meant to be a woman.
“I felt at that time, God had run out of girl bits, so he gave me boy bits, but I should have been female,” she said.
“Unfortunately, the birth certificate said male, and if I had contradicted that, I would have been taken to a doctor who would have assessed me with a mental disorder, and I would have been consigned to a mental institution.
“In the 60s, that would have involved horrendous treatments to make me ‘normal’. That, coupled with the fact my parents were dealing with a sick younger brother and would never understand, I kept my secret.”
Living in a rural area, coupled with strict gender rules, Dianne found herself growing up with few friends.
“I was growing hair and muscles, but the worst part was my voice grew deeper, and now I didn’t even look like a girl.
“I started telling myself my condition would go away, and I wouldn’t wish I was a girl anymore.
“But, at this point, I was terrified that if I had anything to do with genetic girls they would somehow know and then my family would find out, and I would be ridiculed, and my father would kick me out.”
So, Dianne threw herself into being the man people expected her to be.
“The years kept rolling by, and I was very good at pretending I was a bloke, and as expected by my family, I met a nice girl and got married and had three adorable children,” she said.
“All the time, telling myself my condition would go away. In the end, the only way I could cope was to work. So I worked from daylight to dark on the farm, and I went to bed so exhausted I went straight to sleep and never had to think about what I was.
“Unfortunately, I worked through the best years of my life and never spent enough time with my kids.”
Dianne’s determination to ignore who she was by working led to an accident where she slipped into a piece of machinery and almost lost her leg.
“I couldn’t work hard enough to ignore my true self and yet I still had mortgages and bank overdrafts and the drought thrown in as well,” Dianne explained. “I tried, I tried to still be and do what was expected of me, but after my injury and heart bypass surgery, I was still expected to work. I had had enough.”
Now 60 years old, Dianne considered taking her own life, but her love for her children stopped her. At this point, she decided enough was enough, and she would be her true self.
Dianne’s partner left her, but all three of her children have supported her during the transition.
“I have never dared to tell my father, and he soon developed Alzheimer’s, so it didn’t matter, but my mother has been fantastic,” she said. “She loves having a daughter.”
Flash forward five years, Dianna has been on hormone replacement therapy, found her fashion sense (handbags are a must for any outfit) and had breast implants.
Thriving on presenting her true self to the world, Dianne was also instrumental in setting up a support group for LGBTQI people in Tamworth and the surrounding areas which included the regional city’s first Pride event in 2019.
“I have been able to see and do things, I never thought I could do,” she said. “I have been to the big smoke and attended shows, I have attended gala balls – at which I looked stunning – I went to Mardi Gras, and I went to the Priscilla festival out at Broken Hill and got picked up by a lady and the rest I will let you figure out.”
Dianne has even been on a float in the Tamworth Country Music Festival – which of course the Pride committee won a prize for.
She has one message for anyone who is struggling to accept who they are.
“It breaks my heart to think there are still people who think they will not be accepted,” she said.
“We are prisoners of our mind, so we need to step out of our mind. There is more support than what people think, even in regional areas.
“We all need to be happy and celebrate who we are. You can do it!”
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