Four years ago, Cate McGregor planned to take her own life. In 2016, she was a finalist for Australian of the Year.

Trigger warning: This post deals with issues around suicide and might be triggering for some readers. 

On the eve of Australia Day 2012, Cate McGregor was told she was about to be awarded the Order of Australia medal. Only instead of planning her acceptance speech, she was planning on killing herself.

The former Army Lieutenant Colonel, political adviser and cricket writer made the admission to Mia Freedman on the No Filter podcast this week, detailing how a sliding doors moment saved her.

It was just four years ago that the high-profile transgender woman, was in complete turmoil. McGregor had just come out as transgender to her wife of ten years in “the cruellest conversation I’d ever had.”

She couldn’t sleep and had lost 23 kilograms.

“I was dying inside, I was desperate,” she said.

So, having hoarded sleeping pills from various doctors, she walked off Adelaide Oval with a plan.

“I was going back to my hotel to commit suicide.”

“I wasn’t clinging to life. It was relief. I thought, ‘It will be good to end this.'”

Since then, the 59-year old, previously described by many as a “blokey-bloke”, has transitioned from Malcolm to Cate, and become a public spokesperson for transgender issues.

Being presented the Order of Australia in 2012.

She told Mia Freedman that her first memories of feeling like a woman were present in childhood. At eight, she was caught in a dress by her mother, who made it clear that such behaviour would not be tolerated.

From then, McGregor says she was forced into a “hyper-masculine” life. She was a Royal Australian Air Force group captain, a Rugby and cricket aficionado, a fighter and it was all in an effort to suppress what psychologists had named her “gender dysphoria”.


In 1986, depressed and confused, she investigated transitioning only to be told by her psycholgist; “I don’t transition people like you…you’re going to lose your job. You’re going to lose your family. And you’re going to lose everything.”

Listen to the extraordinary interview here: post continues after audio

It wasn’t until her mother died in 1992, that she realised she could finally transition to a woman.

“I left her funeral and thought to myself ‘you can transition genders now.’ Because I’d been so deeply terrified about breaking her heart. And destroying her illusions about this golden haired son,” she says.

As the world’s most senior transgender military officer, it’s an extraordinary story of transition.

“I want everyone in Australia to understand I’m a human being. And I’d like to proceed from that assumption first. Because if you accept that, certain things flow. They’re detestation of us [trans people] is so deep that they dehumanize us, as do the religious zealots. They haven’t got the common decency to treat us as human beings – and I think that’s what is missing in this discussion.”

Cate McGregor is determined to continue shining a light on humanity for trans gendered people.

“There is an inexorable tide happening her,” she said.

“The fact that I’m here is a victory in it’s own right.”

Listen to the full interview, here:

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