Truth, honesty, anger, acceptance and love were some of the themes under discussion when author Cath Lloyd spoke to college students about her life with her transgender father.
The writer, lifestyle coach and stress-relief expert shared her first-hand experiences with more than 150 students at West Nottinghamshire College, Mansfield, this week (Tuesday, February 6) in a series of talks arranged by the student experience team to mark LGBT History Month, which runs throughout February.
Mrs Lloyd discussed how she initially struggled to accept her dad Martin’s surprise announcement in 1987, that he wanted to become a woman; highlighting her emotions, inner-conflict and torment as she wondered if things would ever feel normal again.
She went on to share her story of how, after initially fighting against her father’s gender re-assignment, she developed coping mechanisms to finally conquer her anxieties and learn to not only accept his life-changing decision but embrace it.
Mrs Lloyd has now turned her candid account into a book, called When Dad Became Joan: Life with My Transgender Father, which also serves as a self-help guide for anybody coming to terms with change, whether gender transitioning, separation, loss, illness, disability or living through trauma.
Level 3 public services student Chloe Simpson, 17, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, said: “Cath was really inspirational. She explained things very well and answered our questions in great detail. If you want to change sex, I think it’s completely natural and it’s your decision. You should do whatever makes you happy.”
Classmate Reece Bowskill, 16, from Mansfield Woodhouse, added: “It was very informative and I learned more about how complicated the process is, how long it takes and how determined somebody needs to be to go through with it. Even though I’ve never had a problem with transgender issues, this has given me a wider view. If anything, I will respect people’s differences even more.”
Mrs Lloyd, from Dudley, West Midlands, said: “My overall message was about the need to be OK with who you are, and to challenge your thought processes around things you find uncomfortable and learn to accept those difficult feelings. That is the key to learning, changing, understanding and building better relationships.
“If people are experiencing anxiety and stress when they’re young and don’t resolve it, this will build-up throughout their lives and really affect them. If they can start to manage it now, they are going to be in a better position to live happier, healthier lives.
“The students asked extremely good questions. It’s nice to see young people showing such an interest in this topic and being so inquisitive.”
When Dad Became Joan: Life with My Transgender Father costs £14.99 in paperback and £6.99 on Kindle.
It is available at www.cathlloyd.co.uk and on Amazon.