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Transgender Lt Col pays tribute to mental health professionals

Three years ago, Lieutenant Colonel Malcolm McGregor AM met a psych triage nurse on duty at the Royal Military College, Duntroon. It was a meeting that changed the speech writer and political strategist’s life. I attend Alcoholics Anonymous regularly, I meditate and pray but it wasn’t lifting me – it was time I got some help on this. “It saved my life and gave me a life I hadn’t dreamed was possible. I had been half alive my whole life. That’s the real gift from the support that I received."

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

6th October 2013 02:01

Alessia Valenza

After commencing gender transition in June last year, Lt Col McGregor is now Catherine ‘Cate’ McGregor and continues to work in the Australian Defence Force for Army chief Lieutenant General David Morrison. Lt Col McGregor will tell her story and the important part mental health nurses and psychologists have played in her transition from male to female as one of the key note speakers at the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses’ 39th Annual International Mental Health Nursing Conference, being held in Perth from October 22-24.

“I feel an enormous debt of gratitude to the people that worked with me over the course of the last three years,” she said. “They helped me find my way to the most important decision I have had to make. “Without them I wouldn’t be alive today. I was in quite dire straits on a few occasions.”

The psych nurse referred the Lt Col, who commanded the Australian Army Training Team in East Timor, and recovering alcoholic to a psychologist supportive of the AA’s Twelve Step program – opening up an entire new world to the Lt Col. Lt Col McGregor said she first sought help from a psychiatrist in the 1980s and battled preconceived ideas of “what a transgender person looks like”, resulting in a misdiagnosis.

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