There has been a wonderful outpouring of support for Erica Coates – a 65 year-old Irish farmer who shared her story of transitioning later in life. Erica shared with Joe Duffy and his RTÉ Radio One show, Liveline, listeners about how she feels she has been released from solitary confinement since ‘coming out’ as trans woman.
Erica shared, “All my life, even from a child, I knew there was something different about me… Never knew anything about transgender, I knew I wasn’t gay.” Then 15 years ago, Erica saw a trans person being interviewed on The Late Late Show and things finally made sense to her. “That ticked my boxes,” she shared. “I said, ‘that’s what I am.'”
Erica is transgender. She says that she always felt different.
One night she was watching the Late Late Show and watched a story about a person who had transitioned.
She identified immediately with it, it explained her feelings for the last 64 years.@joeliveline#liveline
— Liveline (@rteliveline) July 3, 2020
Coming from a rural area and running the family farm alongside a very conservative father, Erica kept her realisation quiet, unsure of how it would be received. “I kept it to myself for years and years. It wasn’t easy,” Erica explained. “Told nobody. Felt bad in myself for a long time.”
Erica’s father sadly passed away, yet she was still living in silence. Then she shared an event that took place last year which changed everything.
Great to hear Erica sharing her story on @rteliveline right now. It is never too late to be yourself. If you're looking for support or would like to chat, we're here: leave a voicemail at (01) 873 3575 or email us at [email protected]
— TENI (@TENI_Tweets) July 3, 2020
“I was in Cork one day and I decided to go over to the Debenhams. I wanted to get some makeup. There was a very nice girl who kept talking to me from the Lancome counter.
“I said I was interested in a bit of makeup, and she said ‘A lot of men are doing it now’. And it just came out of me that I was actually transgender and thinking of coming out. And she was so nice and honest and genuine to me.
“It just came out. She was the first person in the world I said it to.”
Listening to Erica on #liveline would warm the heart. Must be so reassuring for transgender people living in rural Ireland to hear her story.
— Lynn Boylan 🍷📖🐾 (@LNBDublin) July 3, 2020
When Joe asked her how it felt after all the years building up to that moment, she described, “My mind was in solitary confinement, sent in for life, and the sentence came off and the gates were opened that day.
“I wasn’t going back, that was it.”
There has been so much hate directed at transgender people, that it's nice to hear #LiveLine today being a place that's celebrating people for who they are and it's a lovely start to the weekend. ❤️
— Fiona Kenny (@FionaKenny1) July 3, 2020
Erica explained how her life has changed since that moment, “I’m dressing female now, jewelry and everything. I get my nails done. Changed my name and drivers licence…The old me is left behind.”
“A lot of people now have said to me, from the time I came out and crossed that bridge, ‘you’ve totally changed completely, you’re always looking so happy now, before you didn’t… you’re completely different.'”
“It just feels so right now, I don’t know why it is, but it does.”
Someone sent Erica a €100 voucher for a beauty treatment. Lately, I have feared for Ireland, given the hate-filled rhetoric that has started rearing its head. This small gesture reminds me that all is very, very far from lost, and that people are wonderfully kind. #Liveline
— Philip Nolan (@philipnolan1) July 3, 2020
Callers to the show praised Erica for her courage, and the outpouring on social media has been heartening. Another trans lady, named Rebecca, then called Liveline with her own story, as did a mother whose daughter was making her own transition. Listeners complimented the show as a great opportunity to share positivity at a time when transphobic content is far too prevalent on social media.
To listen to the full Liveline episode, you can follow the link here.
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