Dec 10, 2020

Trans Australian Male Cody McConnell on living authentically and embracing your truest self.

To Live Liberated could be pinpointed in little, fleeting, daily decisions like wearing that sort-of-clingy but totally tremendous dress out for dinner. Or, it could be something as life-changing and momentous as deciding to change your gender in order to embrace your most authentic self.

Today, we’re so incredibly lucky to be talking openly with the utterly intrepid and really cool Cody McConnell. Cody is an Australian trans male. Despite the staggering, daunting and momentous physical and mental trajectory Cody has undertaken to embrace self-acceptance and a new sense of agency over his true identity, he assures us (and anyone going through similar motions out there) that it is all worth it. It’s only when we lead a life liberated from fear and complex feelings of disconnection that we can exist authentically. (And this applies to so many internal turmoils we can all universally share in facing).

Cody has navigated complex feelings of dysphoria, grappled with the notion of femininity in new ways and learned to ask for help on the heavy days. Here, he speaks with candor and infectious candor on the word ‘transgender,’ forging your own narrative and the importance of cocooning ourselves with people that buoy us in life to soothe whatever estrangement we might be feeling.


Cody, tell us about your journey.

Growing up I always felt different to other girls, but it wasn’t until I was sixteen that I found the term transgender to describe how I was feeling. It took two years of an internal dialogue, denial, and finally self-acceptance before I came out at eighteen. I was then old enough to take my transition into my own hands. My friends were extremely understanding and supportive and helped to create a space where I felt my identity was not to be ashamed of, that it was ok to live my truth.

My parents were initially opposed to my transition, but over the course of the past five years they have made slow progress which gives me hope for our future relationship as I am not one to burn bridges. Being a broke university student, I asked my doctor to refer me to the public system to speak to a gender psychiatrist in which the waitlist was nine months. Once I was in the system, I was able to talk to my lovely gender psychiatrist through many tears and difficult conversations who really unpacked all the signs which led to the conclusion that medical transition would be the right step for me. These sessions were reviewed, and I could start taking the hormone, testosterone, which alters your secondary sex characteristics to match other males your age. I must say, going through a second puberty whilst studying full time architecture at nineteen was quite a journey! Waves of angst, bursts of energy and not to mention the hunger! Presenting in front of tutors with voice cracks galore, bumping into doorways as my shoulders broadened, feeling anger as a first response instead of sadness. It was a surreal experience of going back in time with the knowledge and maturity of your older self, whilst tackling instinctive bouts of irrationality.

Through my check-ins with my psychiatrist I was fortunate enough to be offered funding from the Government that would go towards my top surgery, a dream I thought I would not be able to afford for many years. I was nervous as to how my family would react but I knew deep down that this procedure was something I couldn’t pass up and so I really focused on what I needed to be happy in my body. My work was phenomenal in giving me extra shifts leading up to Christmas to help save up that last little bit and it was in February 2018 that I had top surgery with Mr. Andrew Ives in Melbourne, spending all of my life’s savings. I did feel moments of sadness that my parents weren’t there with me in such an incredibly rewarding part of my journey, especially when I saw other trans guys in consultation waiting rooms with their families, however, I cannot express how grateful I am to have had my best friend, Kirsty, looking after me as I recovered, reminding me when to check my drains, driving me to appointments and feeding me painkillers.

Falling in love with my girlfriend, Samantha, was a whole new experience. Knowing that I could be completely myself and still be deserving of love was an idea that I was prepared to throw away when I was still in the closet overthinking everything. Our relationship is healthy and stable but exciting and spontaneous at the same time. Gender roles in the relationship are loose and fluid, we focus on what makes both of us happy and have an open channel of communication.



What is your life like now that your gender matches who you always felt you were?

Coming up on just over three years on testosterone, my quality of life keeps improving in leaps and bounds. I have developed a strong sense of confidence and agency over my body and its trajectory. I have learnt so much about myself, what I am capable of and a sense of self-worth. Discovering what kind of man I aspire to be, now that I feel more at home in this body that I have been given, I am able to reconnect with my femininity in a way that doesn’t discredit my identity. I still experience dysphoria and my medical transition is not yet over, but I am present in this body that I have now and look forward to what the future will bring.


What was it/is it like to experience periods when you do not identify with the gender they’re largely associated with?

Facing periods was an uncomfortable and confusing time, although not one of my main points of dysphoria, the whole process felt wrong. Periods were an out of body experience as if ‘surely this wasn’t happening to me’ as I felt so detached to what was going on. After beginning testosterone, my period went away which brought with it a huge wave of relief, however just over a year and a half in I got some spotting back which can happen for a myriad of reasons and can be easily managed by speaking to your gp and gynecologist.

When I had to deal with periods, and when they returned as an unwanted guest, one aspect that made me uncomfortable was the fact that men’s bathrooms did not have bins so going out in public had an added stress, which resulted in me holding on until I was home or drinking less so I wouldn’t need to pee later. On top of that, packaging in sanitary products can be quite ‘girly’ which did not help the dysphoria. If I could propose one change, it would be to have a line of pads that came in more subdued plain colours as another option. These would be for people who may have to be stealth for safety, feel dysphoric from the bright coloured wrapping, or simply prefer a more discreet option. That way, even if men’s bathrooms did not have bins in the cubicles, the pad could be thrown away without drawing unwanted attention. A portion of these products could also be placed in the ‘men’s grooming’ section of supermarkets and pharmacies and that may sound radical, but some men get periods too! This is not aimed to undermine the great work occurring at the moment to dismantle stigma from having a period, or for people embracing a natural bodily function, it is just a means for catering for everybody.

In terms of fertility, I am in the process of freezing my eggs and to do so, I will need to come off hormones for approximately six months until my cycle returns and so periods will once again integrate themselves into my life for a brief period of time. However, in saying that, having had periods in the past this experience is definitely uncomfortable, but it does not take away from the fact that I am still a man. It is purely one aspect of my life that contributes to my story as a whole.


What advice would you give to others who are confused or struggling with their gender identity?

My motto would be, ‘take your time but don’t waste your time’ and is a phrase I have told myself throughout the years. It is perfectly okay to wait, to self-reflect, to be comfortable but when that security turns into something that is stagnant or is holding you back, then it is time to take that leap of faith. I would encourage those struggling to reach out and talk to someone, to ask their gp, to refer them to a professional who is an expert in untangling the ‘mess’ that might be plaguing your mind. In those two years when I was in the closet, I fell into a deep depression because everything was all in my head, spiralling out of control. Once I was able to seek help, the burden I felt like I had been carrying this whole time seemed to slowly ease itself off my shoulders. Now, when I am feeling down, I know there are people who I can speak to, who will bring a moment of comfort and shelter in this sea of dysphoria.


What does liberation mean to you?

Liberation to me is having the power to write my own narrative and to share it. To acknowledge this unique perspective I have on life now because of these circumstances that I have been given and to revel in the beauty of it all. To be liberated is to be uninhibited and to live authentically.

This is what we call fierce, soul-warming and brutally honest liberation. Whatever inner conflicts you or your closest friends might be facing, we hope Cody’s story has served as some solace and support. This story has given us a deeper understanding of what it means to fully come into one’s truest identity with agency, bravery and patience. And while this isn’t something as frivolous as period stains on a sheet, we want you to know that whatever battle (big or small) you’re facing, there’s always someone out there that understands what you’re going through. After all, living liberated means talking, crying, laughing and embracing our unique narratives, together unconditionally.


Love, Libra x



Anything else? Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.


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