When Paula met Belinda in 2003, they conceived the idea of a series of images that would challenge the oft-touted media stereotype of the transsexual woman as a freak and an outsider on the margins of society. They sought to challenge the viewer’s preconceptions with a different viewpoint – that of the transsexual woman as woman…as everyday woman, employee, commuter, shopper, friend, lover…as the woman next to you on the bus, in the street, across the counter.
Paula feels that she most likely born with the neurological structures of a female and the body and genitals of a male. Trans-sexuality, in concert with psychological and social factors, led to her growing up as she says, using a perhaps naive but essentially accurate expression, “a woman trapped in a man’s body”.
Like most transsexual people of her generation she struggled, increasingly unsuccessfully, to deal with the condition by denial and suppression. Eventually, the years of guilt and shame and pain proved too much and, faced with chronic depression and suicide, she finally acknowledged “her true self”.
Paula “transitioned” to living and working as a woman full-time nine months after counselling, hormone therapy, electrolysis to then have gender reassignment surgery and a legal name change. She transitioned among her neighbours and local community, amongst her friends and workmates.
Paula lives and works in Sydney. She now lives alone, since her husband passed away, and continues to work at Telstra. In her spare time she captures extraordinary documentary images of Sydney using film and digital cameras.