Call me ma’am not sir

Summer Day and Get it’s Kirstin Cuthbert sit down in her Varsity Lakes home for an honest, raw and revealing conversation about how Summer went from a suicidal and depressed ‘man’ to the amazing woman she is today — gracing our front cover!

Summer Jane Day, 37, is a post-op transgender woman and she doesn’t try to hide it. She was born with a boy’s body but a girl’s brain. As Michael

John Day, she achieved many great things — becoming a professional skateboarder, getting married and having kids — but deep down she knew she wasn’t being true to herself, and it almost killed her.

Four years ago, she made the decision to transition from her male body to a female body, so she could live life as the woman she always shew she was. Depression, heartbreak, fear, freedom, acceptance… she has experienced it all… and she leaves

nothing out as she shares her journey from Michael to Summer with us.

GROWING UP

Let’s go back to the very beginning; can you start off by telling us what

life was like as a child?

I had a good life, good parents and a good home but when I was in between ve and seven, I really started to understand the whole concept of what a boy was and what a girl was. My mind was always dragging towards female things, but I looked in the mirror and I saw a boy. It was confusing.

What was school life like?

In primary school, all I wanted to do was hang around with the girls and play elastics, so I was constantly bullied for it. I knew going into high school that I had to create
a persona to avoid being bullied. I became very good at imitating men and joined the surfer/skater group. No one knew about my gender issues and I used drugs to stick them to the back of my head.

There was a point where I started wanting to hurt myself then a friend of mine introduced me to progressive skating. I started on that and realised you can’t skate without getting hurt, so for me, the pain side of skating

was therapeutic. When I was 18 I ended up picking up a sponsorship and skated competitively, 24/7, so that was brilliant.

LEARNING ABOUT GENDER IDENTITY

Was there a moment you realised why you felt the way you did?

When I was 22 I got the internet and I started Googling the things I had been feeling. I came across YouTube videos of people who had transitioned from male to female or female to male and it was a lightbulb moment.

I knew I wasn’t gay. Orientation-wise, I have always been bisexual. EvenwhenIwaswithmen,inmymind,Isawmyselfasawoman,
so I only felt I was gay when I was with women.As soon as I saw transition videos and realised it was a thing, everything made sense.

What did you do from there?

Iwasinmyearly20sandconsumedbyfear.Iwasthreequartersof the way through a man’s puberty and I was a giant at 6’1”. At that age you are bombarded by what’s ‘normal’ and what’s ‘not normal.’ I felt there was nothing I could do about it, I was stuck that way forever.

MARRIAGE AND KIDS

How did the next few years progress?

I supressed my gender issues even deeper. I met my wife Atsuko, my now ex-wife, and fell in love. When I turned 30 we decided to have children and I made the decision to stop using drugs. Unbeknownst to me, that set off an atomic bomb in my head.

A year later, at 31, we had our eldest, Milla, and my whole role in life was dad. Things festered so bad for me that when she was one and a half I tried to take my own life.

Did that encourage you to take any action?

No, even after a suicide attempt, I couldn’t speak about it. I bottled
it all back in there. A couple of years went by and our youngest, Zara, was on her way. I got to the lowest point of my life and tried again. Luckily for me, in those last few seconds I got visions of my daughters in the future without me as a parent and that stopped me.

I also had a memory of my friend Zane who took his life 12 years
ago and I couldn’t bear to leave my family with unanswered questions. Afterwards, I found myself back at home in the same situation but this time I knew I had to do something about it.

COMING OUT

So, what did you do about it?

I told my mum rst. I knew my mum would have my back no matter what. She actually thought I was gay. You could see
her ick back in the years, looking for markers that she hadn’t noticed. She rattled off a few like wondering why her makeup was always broken and disappearing or why her clothes were in differentdrawers.ShewassohappythatI’d nallycometothat point in my life and wanted to deal with it.

And when did you tell your wife?

I told her a few days later, in a long, tearful conversation. She took it well, but she had no idea what it really entailed. She comforted me, anddidallthesupportivethings,butIknewonceshewasbyherself she would start to go through the emotions.

It’s like a death, that physical person is going to disappear. I’m still here, I’m still the same soul and mind, but physically that person is disappearing. For her, being with me for 12 or 13 years, that’s big. Every woman pictures their future, the typical white picket fence, family and kids — she de nitely did not factor in that her husband at the time would transition into a woman.

BECOMING SUMMER

What was the rst step in your journey?

To nd a gender therapist. I didn’t need to be told by a therapist that I was transgender, I already knew, but I needed someone to offload all my thoughts onto. I had three or four sessions with him and then he gave me the letter for hormone therapy. And that was the beginning of my amazing, scary social change.

How long has it been since then and what has happened in that time?

It will be four years this August. I was on hormone therapy for two years.The estrogen pretty much melts muscle and redistributes it asfattothebum,hipsandboobs.IgotaBcupthroughitbutknew I would need breast surgery to even me out. I got that in May 2016, then a year later in 2017, I had my gender reassignment surgery.

Tell us about that surgery, what was it like? Did you have any concerns?

No concerns whatsoever! I absolutely loved every second of it! I knew once I came out that I would get the surgery, as I had to erase every possible marker of maleness on my body.

There are two types of surgeries. There’s one where they take a snippet of the colon to use as the vagina and the colon self-

lubricates and the other you can’t self- lubricate — I chose that option because

“He [Michael] was my taxi driver and Summer was in the backseat just waiting to get out — and she sure did!”

you can’t turn the self-lubrication off like when a woman gets excited! Lube is my best friend now!

What was the recovery like?

I had my surgery done in Thailand and there were two stages. I had my rst surgery then four or ve days later
I had my second surgery. After my second surgery, I wasn’t allowed to move for three days, so that was a bit of a nightmare, but I knew afterwards that I would get to see the big reveal.

And, how did she look?

It looked scary as down there! It was so bruised and swollen — it didn’t really look like a vagina. But, the more time thatpassed,andthemoretheswelling went down, it was like oh yeah, there’s my ower! All vaginas are different, let’s face it, so it falls in the spectrum,

just like it’s a genetic woman’s vagina. I have all the bits and pieces yougirlshave!

Were there any things you had to do after surgery, upkeep so to speak?

Yes, I just got stuck into my dilating regime straight out of hospital which was three times a day with six different sized dilators. Because it’s not a natural vagina, the body at that stage is going to try and close the operation site. Dilating took up an hour and a half, three times a day. It lters down to where I am at now, I pretty much do it once every three or four days.

Do you need to keep doing that for the rest of your life?

I guess so. I only use two sizes now but hey, if I get a boyfriend, I won’t have to!

DATING AND LOVE LIFE

So, speaking of boyfriends, are you single and if so, are you looking?

Iamlookingforapartnerbutit’ssohard.Asatransperson,ourpoolof sh is so much smaller than the general population.Then you have men who want to ll their fetishes or their sexual desires with trans women and sorry but no, I’m not going to be your experiment. I am bisexual, but Iwouldpreferaman.ThemoreI’vetransitioned,themoreIwanttofeel that sense of security and protectiveness that a man typically provides.

How do you nd online dating now?

My pro les online are black and white. I’m a post-op trans woman. And then I get questions like,“Do you still have a penis?”And it’s like come on, it says post-op trans woman, if you don’t understand that statement within itself, Google it!

Here’s a big question, have you had sex since your surgery?

I have been getting out there! You only live once and, as they say, use it or lose it. Having sex for the rst time as a
physical woman was so scary, it was like I was
16 and a virgin again. I knew what to do but

actually doing it was so different. It was good, well good and bad. Let’s face it, men only last a few minutes if you’re lucky, so I was like,“Oh is that it?”

And another big question, can you orgasm?

That rst time there was no orgasm for me and even trailing three weeks after that, I couldn’t gure it out.There is a percentage of people that have no proper feeling down there. After some concentrating and hard work, I found my orgasm, so I was super excited!

FAMILY AND FRIENDS

How is your relationship with your ex-wife, Atskuo, now?

She’s my soulmate, we still live together, and we have an amazing friendship, but we’re not together as partners. She’s straight so I knew once I started transitioning that somewhere along the line we wouldn’t be together as a romantic couple. I do feel bad in a way that I stripped her of the physical partner, but I’ve got her back for the rest of my life, we have two beautiful kids together and I’d do anything for her.We still love each other.

At what stage did you tell your friends?

AfterItoldmymum,Atsuko,anddidallthetherapysessions.Ihadjust started taking hormones but was still in boy mode. I decided to write a long letter as I realised I couldn’t sit there and do it to their face without balling my eyes out.When I started to tell my friends and I handed them the note, they thought I had cancer or something and I was dying. Itwaslike,‘NoI’mnotdying,I’mstillhere,I’mjustgoingtobemore amazing in the next few years!’

How old are your daughters and do they understand your journey to a degree?

They are six and nearly four. In the beginning when we had Milla, I didn’t want to take that tag of Mum away from Atsuko as she was a brand- new mum, so Milla called me Summer. As I progressed in my transition, I wanted a title because Milla was getting asked at school who Summer was. So, I became Mumsy. Zara, my youngest, has only known Mumsy.

Milla was two and a half when I came out. It was just nothing for her to grasp that I’m going to start changing and that she now has two mums. Zara in time will start to understand. I don’t hide pictures as I don’t want to erase that part.

NEGATIVITY AND DISCRIMINATION

Have you copped much negativity through your transition?

I’ve had my fair share.The highest percentage of negativity is staring.I startedsmilingbackatpeopledwhostared.Whatbetterwaytode ect that negative energy than with a big smile? I’ve promised myself that I won’t walk away from any situation upset with myself. I have nothing to be upset about — I’m amazing!

Pronounshaveproveninteresting.Ihardlyget‘sir’anymore,I’mpretty much getting ma’am and miss. Everyone has eyes, so call me ma’am, not sir!

What else have you encountered?

We found a kindy for Milla and did the orientation. Prior to that I explained to them I am transitioning, and they were cool with it. Once we nished the orientation and came home, I got a phone call from the kindy saying that the teachers were concerned how I was

“Gender is who you go to bed as and sexual orientation is who you go to bed with!”

dressing. I had a knee-length skirt and a nice pleated top and wedges on.They thought I was a cross dresser and that’s not who I am.

I met with the head of the kindy and they were just as clueless.
I decided to take them to the antidiscrimination board and I ended up winning. I wasn’t there
for money so instead of seeking a nancial payout, the entire company of about 200 people were required

to attend a three-day course with my therapist who runs programs for companies regarding transitions.

MISCONCEPTIONS AND THE FUTURE

What’s the biggest misconception you come across?

A lot of people think it’s a choice.Whywouldanyone want to go from oating through society unnoticed as

whatever gender they are to making a massive physical change where everyone notices?

Another one is that people who transition from male to female are gaymenwhichisnottrue.Yourgenderandsexualorientationaretwo different areas of the brain.The way I say it is gender is who you go to bed as and sexual orientation is who you go to bed with!

Looking back on your journey, is there one last thing you would like to say?

You can’t live your life not being you.That moment you acknowledge what is going on within you and you make the change to better yourself, it will be the best thing you ever do.

And that person I was, as hard as it was growing up, got me from the beginning to when I started my transition. He got me there in one piece. I use the reference that he was my taxi driver and Summer was in the backseat just waiting to get out — and she sure did!

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