A trans woman from the Scottish town of Johnstone has spoken of the torment she faced after being ridiculed for her appearance to the point that she felt “forced” to leave the town.
Stephanie Smyth, 32, told The Gazette, that verbal abuse she received was “traumatic”, and that she found living in the area “hell”, as she was attempting to come to terms with her identity.
She said she was the subject of abuse hurled at her in the streets, and that staff in shops sneered at her. She said she was subjected to taunts, and that she was accused of being a “witch”.
She went on to say that she wanted to use her situation to raise awareness, so that other trans people would not have to suffer in the same way.
“I want to speak out now so that people can realise how traumatic it can be for someone coming to terms with their identity,” she said.
“I’d say about 90% of people are judgemental. People need to wake up and realise that transgender people are here for a reason. Because places like Johnstone are so small, everyone knows you so you can’t hide away.
“The only choice I had was to move away from Renfrewshire and start a new life. You live your life as you, it’s a new beginning, it’s a hard beginning and it’s very isolating.
“I was forced to move from there because of the abuse I suffered trying to be who I really am, it was hell.
“It’s not witchcraft, people want to burn you at the stake for being a woman when you were born a man.”
She went on to say that the worst abuse was when she went into shops, saying: “It was mainly the worst when it came to going into shops in Renfrewshire.
“I found that a lot of the people who worked in security would be standing around laughing and staff workers would also follow me around, jumping to conclusions.
“Walking down the street I’d get a lot of abuse sometimes. They’d shout at me a lot, call me gay and even accuse me of witchcraft.
“You get used to it after a while but I’d try not to let it get to me. There were so many times I almost contacted the police because it had got so bad but ended up scared of the repercussions.
“I feel like I’ve lost a lot of my friends because I had to leave Johnstone. My past was almost completely wiped away.”
She went on to say that she wanted to campaign against transphobia in general, saying: “I think there’s a lot of bullying around it, society needs to wake up and accept these people.
“The biggest acceptance is yourself at first, you need to accept who you are first before you can come into this world and become a different person.
“I don’t blame anyone specifically, there’s no-one at fault here it’s just the society that we live in.
“All I want to do is just make people aware that we are around in this world, sometimes it’s just nice for people to smile and accept us.
“Luckily I have some of the most amazing friends in the world that don’t judge me. It was the best day of my life when I got treatment to become the real me.”