Thank you, Halifax. You should feel proud. | Opinion | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Thank you, Halifax. You should feel proud.

A woman who transitioned later in life thanks her chosen city for all the help it gave along the way.

click to enlarge Thank you, Halifax. You should feel proud.
Penny Catterick says Halifax helped support her become her true self with its openness and its heart. Her Youtube channel, Penchant Social, chronicles her transition journey.

Beauty, it is said, is in the eye of the beholder. July is pride month, a time when we usually behold the beauty and excitement of up to 120,000 Haligonians sharing in the celebration and joy that is the annual Pride Parade. Understandably not this year, so I thought this article would be my small contribution to pride month.

Until I arrived in Halifax from Scotland, I had seen nothing like it: The streets thronging with cheering spectators and floats of all colours, shapes and sizes. It was just gorgeous. I’ve now lived here for almost fours years and participated in three parades. I have come to understand Haligonians, their love of social bonding and openness, and the grace with which they share their community with new, international residents like me.  

I came to Halifax in the fall of 2016, a professional person wanting to make a mark at Halifax Shipyard—but weighed down and harbouring the shame of hiding away my authentic self. I was, in fact, a transgender woman trapped in a man’s body, like a bird trapped inside a cage.

Over the years, many wonderful people in Halifax have helped me to slowly open that cage door so I could gradually learn to live my authentic life. It’s an unbelievable feeling to be truly yourself—but it’s made extra special by the help, support and love received from this local community.

I’ve thought long and hard about how to say thank you from my heart to all those people who have helped me on my journey. I’ve written thank you cards to each one of them, like Dr. Chow and the team at the Halifax Sexual Health Clinic and Rosanne, Scott and Emma, my pharmacists. But that doesn’t seem enough—and there are many other names on the list.

It’s not possible for someone like me to navigate my journey alone. It only happens when there is a support structure around you: Not just friends and work colleagues but also the local community. So, I wanted to say thank you to the city of Halifax. It is as important to be greeted with courtesy and warmth when you enter a shop as it is when you meet with your clinicians.

It’s now time for this bird to leave the nest in Halifax that supported me while I learned to spread my new, gorgeous wings and fly back to Scotland. When I leave Stanfield International Airport, I will leave a big piece of my heart forever with the people of Halifax.

Thank you.

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