Name: Katherine
Age at interview: 78
Gender: Female

Katherine works part-time as a librarian and activist for transgendered people and lives on the central coast of New South Wales. Katherine is 78 years old and was born a male named John, in Scotland. She has three adult children. She is currently single and lives with a housemate and their pet dogs.

More about Katherine

Katherine's father was a sea captain and so she grew up travelling around the world with her parents and sister. Katherine later trained and worked as a librarian in Canada and the United States and served in the Navy. She resisted being transgendered for many years before commencing the transition to female at age 52. She decided to help other transgendered people following her transition and wrote her autobiography, 'Katherine's diary: The story of a transexual', which was published and won an Australian Human Rights Non-Fiction Award.

Growing older has been, for Katherine, 'imperceptible'. She still regards the world pretty much as she always has and she is still willing to learn. She had a triple bypass six years ago and a stent inserted in her aorta more recently but otherwise she has excellent health that she attributes to good genes, no smoking (unless an onstage role required it) and little alcohol. Katherine has received excellent medical care from her health professionals and support from the transgendered community. She was a keen sailor for many years, although she has had to cease this due to hardened arteries in her legs. This condition limits other physical activity but not significantly; she is still able to do everything else she wants to do. Chess, her pet dogs and writing are some of Katherine's passions.

Katherine would like to live forever so that she can complete a number of projects she cannot find the time to start. Creativity is extremely important to Katherine and she has a strong sense of leaving something behind when she is gone. However, provided it is not painful or undignified, Katherine accepts the prospect of death. She takes this approach to her friends and family who are no longer alive, as much as she misses them. Friends mean a great deal to Katherine. Many of her friends are people she helps, which she believes is important as it gives her purpose as she grows older. She feels that her life is now 'set in its course', as she envisages no major changes to where or how she lives. Katherine sees no great advantages to growing older but she accepts it for what it is. As she says, 'time goes only in one direction.'