Why this Coast man could no longer live as a woman

SEXUALITY SERIES: The way we see each other - who we are and who we love - is changing.

Through a four-part series in collaboration with the University of the Sunshine Coast, the Daily is exploring sexuality, gender and politics in the Sunshine Coast region.

In part two, Bastion Nunez explains why he had to become a man - from the start of his "transition" and transformation from female to male.

PART 1 : A life more ordinary?: Bill Darby on coming out on the Sunshine Coast


How (and why) Bastion Nunez became a man

HE WALKS with a wide smile across his face, 36 years old and looking like any other male in the street.

But Bastion Nunez, formerly Mel, is seven months into his lifelong transition from woman to man.

"I'm just now changing my name, I'm actually expecting my new birth certificate in the next week or two, so that's a huge thing for me," he said.

Bastion Nunez is sharing his transtion story.
Bastion Nunez is sharing his transtion story. Warren Lynam

From an early age Bastion hated to wear dresses or anything "girly".

"My mother forced me into girly clothes and I fought that a lot," he said.

"She said I would get very violent and angry towards her when she would dress me in them."

This discomfort with feminine clothes, he said, was the first indication that maybe he was not meant to be a girl.

Bastion, however, did not truly start to question his gender until he was much older.

Bastion Nunez is sharing his transition story.
Bastion Nunez is sharing his transition story. Warren Lynam



He recalls the first time it really "clicked" to him - what these feelings meant.

"I saw Paige Phoenix, he was on the X Factor, and just seeing him on TV, I didn't think it was possible, I didn't even really know what transgender was," he said.

"I'd never seen it and then when I saw it on TV I was like 'Wow. OK. Click. That's possible."

He said it was only in the last four or five years that he had truly come to terms with who he is.

"It's very scary when you first come to the decision to transition," he said.

"You're going to lose people unfortunately.

"The main thing is you just have to be true to yourself, just be happy and everyone else will come around and if they don't that's their loss."

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Bastion's decision cost him a close relationship with his family.

"At the moment I don't really talk to my mother or my father and my brother is having issues dealing with it," he said.

"I knew that would happen as my mother is very religious, but for me it was a life or death situation."

He said his mental health was being drastically affected by the misalignment of his mind and body - a condition known as gender dysphoria.

Bastion knew if he did not do something about his feelings, he may not have survived to tell his story.

"It was a choice that had to be done because I was on the edge of not carrying on."

The decision was the result of years of research, looking online at whatever information he could find.

"There's so many activists out there that put videos and blogs and do all this so I just started following them.

"From there it just built to a point where I just had to reach out to all the different support groups I found."

Bastion Nunez as a young child.
Bastion Nunez as a young child. Contributed

In Australia, there are strict guidelines on transitioning.

According to the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender, individuals may identify with a gender separate from how they were born, or even a gender that is not exclusively female or male.

Sex reassignment surgery and hormone therapy are not required for a person to change their gender, according to the guidelines.

The most common way to physically change gender is for a doctor to refer the person on to a psychiatrist who evaluates their mental state.

They either sign off on the transition or stop it from going ahead.

The other way is through "informed consent" - that is, the person shows they have been given all the information, along with the negative aspects.

Once that happens, they can sign off on their own transition.

This is the process Bastion went through after his years of research.


Even so, he said it was ultimately up to the doctor.

"There are some doctors who allow informed consent, but of course that's up to them," he said.

"The doctor will evaluate you and see where your mental health is.

"Obviously if they feel that you need to talk to someone then they will [refer you to a specialist] otherwise you can sign a piece of paper that says you are informed and want to continue with therapy."

Bastion knows his decision to transition is not one he will regret.

"I look in the mirror now and I see myself, where before I was so disconnected that I didn't feel like I was me," he said.

"I'm not saying it is all cruisy, because let me tell you hormones can make it such an emotional roller coaster.

"I've already been through one puberty and now I'm going through another.

"It's overwhelming at times but it's the best and I saved myself because I know I would have been just another statistic."

Bastion Nunez after beginning his transition.
Bastion Nunez after beginning his transition. Contributed

He now feels more at peace with himself but knows this is just the start of the long and expensive journey he has ahead.

"At the moment I'm saving for chest surgery, I should hopefully have that this year."

The chest surgery he is saving for is a double mastectomy - breast removal -- which costs around $9000 in Australia.

The cost of the surgery is not the only obstacle. A psychologist needs to sign off on the procedure.

"It's basically plastic surgery - nobody else needs mental health checks to get plastic surgery but us."

For this reason, along with the lower cost, Bastion has considered going to Thailand to have the procedure done.

"Thailand is a fair bit cheaper than here and they won't ask for the psych tests, they absolutely embrace the trans community."

No matter where he has his surgery, or what tests he must go through, Bastion said the decision to transition was exactly what he had to do.

"It was absolutely the best thing and I don't have a single regret about doing it.

"I suffered a lot with mental health issues because I just didn't fit and the best thing is to try and not fit.

"Don't fit if you don't fit, try to make your own way, because you'll be so happy for it."



LGBTI: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex

Straight - A boy attracted to girls or a girl attracted to boys.

Queer - A word for any sexuality that isn't straight.

Gay - A boy attracted to other boys.

Lesbian - A girl attracted to other girls.

Bisexual - Attracted to more than one gender.

Pansexual - Attracted to people regardless of their gender.

Heterosexual- A person who identifies as their gender assigned at birth and is attracted to the opposite gender.

Transgender - Someone who does not identify as the same gender as they were assigned at birth.

Cisgender - Someone who does identify as the same gender as they were assigned at birth.

Intersex - People born with variations to genital, chromosomal or other physical characteristics that differ from stereotypical ideas about what it means to be female or male.

Questioning - Someone in the process of exploring their own sexuality and or gender.


NEXT WEEK: We talk to a gay teenager about how he finds schooling in 2017, and his feelings about the contentious "Safe Schools" program