Transgender advocate speaks out against bullying

Transgender advocate Mary Haddock-Staniland was bullied as a child in Matamata.
ABBY BROWN/ FAIRFAX NZ

Transgender advocate Mary Haddock-Staniland was bullied as a child in Matamata.

Mary Haddock-Staniland still remembers being bullied at the Matamata school she went to and being yelled at on the street.

The well known transgender personality, who transitioned from male to female at age 18, said her fellow school peers were nasty.

"I remember catching the bus in Waharoa and the bullying would start from there," she said.

"Everything from name calling to being tripped up." 

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It would be the same minefield on the bus ride home.

She attributed the bullying to her being different and people not understanding her.

"My mum took me at age six to a psychiatrist at Waikato Hospital to find out what was wrong with me." 

She said noone really knew about gender dysphoria then, which is the condition of feeling one's emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one's biological sex, which she was later diagnosed with.

She found her experiences even harder when she was compared to her athletic identical twin brother William.

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"He played cricket, tennis, rugby; anything with a ball." 

Haddock-Staniland hated sports and preferred jazz ballet. 

Even now she still has negative experiences when returning to visit her "amazing, supportive" mum in her hometown.

But it's not confined to Matamata.

She even experiences it in Auckland, where she now lives with her husband.

"It's not unusual for me to go into a store and be stared at and be talked about."

Despite that she said society's view of transgender people had improved but could still be better and she's had former bullies apologise to her.

"I don't validate them, I accept their apologies, but I put it back on them by telling them that they hurt me."

As a transgender advocate she speaks in workplaces about the need for equality and diversity.

Her advice to anyone who thinks they might could be transgender was to get professional help by going to a GP rather than self-diagnosing.

"Go against the grain; don't let people stop you from being what you want."

She encouraged everyone to have more compassion and tolerance towards each other. 

 - Stuff

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