A life On Loan

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Roz Caroline Peta Dickson  

Queensland, Brisbane

My conception changed what might have been for my mother and father. My young mum was to go away and at term my life was to be given away. Was it my fault -no, their fault -no, those who’d come to adopt me -no.

Yet I wonder which name should’ve been mine? The name my mother gave me of my father or the name my adoptive parents gave me? My new mum wanted the same first name but back then the government said no it couldn’t be, I wasn’t allowed that identity.

So I grew up a Ross and not a Peter yet it wouldn’t truly be me because the sex assigned at birth was not the gender I felt me to be. The sex the doctor saw, diminutive at best, sufficed to place an M so at his behest, I was raised a boy much to my detest only to find much later I was intersex.

In the maternity hospital called Boothville of the Salvation Army my young first mother was given a pill daily. I wonder if perhaps it was the “Wonder Drug” DES Diethylstilbestrol even though she was told it was Iron for a healthy baby. DES is a story not often told, a powerful synthetic estrogen developed of old, in 1927 and given to the world, a bad reputation it would subsequently earn. A destroyer of lives it became known as the “Silent Thalidomide”. It could have deprived my prenatal brain of surges of testosterone which would help explain how female I felt I was to remain.

I wouldn’t transition in the era I was young. It was Sir Joh’s in Queensland and it couldn’t be done. I suffered in silence as I was separated from peeps, my girlfriends in early primary school, my tribe I couldn’t keep. In hiding I’d wear my adoptive mum’s clothes, a stocking here, a shoe there but I’d always be alone.

It wasn’t easy growing up and as my family struggled. My adoptive dad a lovable larrikin Korean War Vet yet withdrawn with PTSD. An older adopted brother so different from me. My brother was hurting because I couldn’t be the football mad brother he longed to see as he suffered unknowingly from OCD. He tried to change me, shaming with words such as “Sissy” and “Faggot” and on occasion his fists were driven from the trauma within him. Our mother sadly suffered more each time Dad was away until one day she broke...

It was hard seeing mum in the St Andrews hospital bed, one day she knew us but the next she didn’t. The doctors had given her shock treatment to remove her pain and she had to learn all over again who we were. I was young and in primary school back then but I was smart enough to figure out that her treatment would be mine if I transitioned genders.

And how could I abandon my adoptive parents and leave to transition to be me. I had to grow up quickly into a young man to help them. My life was on loan, my identity assigned. It would be after my adoptive father’s passing that my body would be mine.


I was 47 when I transitioned genders to live authentically as me Roz. I gained great peace from the alignment of my sex and gender and I’ve found there’s so much more to me than the shell of a man I’d been moulded into and tried so hard to be. I've also developed a love of learning ballet and other dance