Former military officer and high-profile trans advocate Catherine McGregor has apologised and said she was “wrong” to oppose the Safe Schools anti-bullying program in 2016.
Catherine McGregor wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald that she put her change of mind down to working with a young transgender man, Charles O’Grady, on a theatre production based on her life story.
“[He] told me how much he resented me for my stance on Safe Schools in 2016 and for my life as a soldier,” Catherine McGregor wrote.
“He found me incomprehensible. A fascist at best, and a tool of the Australian Christian Lobby in its vile war on trans people at worst.”
Catherine McGregor said that instead of arguing the two began talking openly and are now “dear friends”.
“I understood exactly why he felt as he did. He penetrated my defences and challenged me to review my own behaviour,” she said.
“Many young trans people believed in me at one time. I had never fully grasped the extent of the hope that I had inspired in them.”
I was too selfish, too ideological, and too combative
But, she continued, “I dashed their hopes and broke their hearts over my criticism of Safe Schools.”
“I was too selfish, too ideological, and too combative,” she said.
She said a disagreement with the political views of one the public backers of the program had led her to “throw the baby out with the bath water.”
“I had a limited, arguably obsolescent view of how gender variance manifests among contemporary teens,” she said.
“My model worked for me. Indeed, it was integral to my survival and sense of self. But that is not how O’Grady lives and expresses his gender. Neither of us are wrong.
“Even more to my chagrin, I failed to anticipate the ammunition I offered to those like [News Corp columnist] Miranda Devine and [former Australian Christian Lobby head] Lyle Shelton who refuse outright to accept the reality and legitimacy of trans identity.
“In light of the harm I did to many and the friendships that I lost, I deeply regret my actions. I wish to apologise to all those I harmed or disappointed.”
Catherine McGregor said young transgender people are “doing it tough”.
“Mainly because of cruel religious fanatics and their enablers like Devine,” she said.
“The ignorance and hate directed against them is killing them.”
She apologised to those she may have harmed with her past views, adding that she forgave the people she had clashed with.
“The LGBTIQ community is fragmented and riven by petty hatreds. My young friend Charles O’Grady showed me that we all need to listen and open our hearts to one another or we will never move forward,” she said.
“To those I harmed, may you find forgiveness in your hearts. I forgive you. We may not agree always. But we need one another.”
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