Gab, Bertie, River, Cat (l-r), Toronto CAN

Cat speaks
‘I can still find mornings difficult, but getting outside in nature for a walk, all together, the four of us, it just makes everything better. We wouldn’t have that if we didn’t have Bertie and River. 
Some people have regular jobs and children and I guess that gives most people routine, but we don’t want children so the dogs and the business are our family now.

I knew that I was loved growing up, and my family would be devastated if they knew how much damage had been caused, but sometimes that love felt conditional on me complying with ‘femininity’; you know, something that I just couldn’t do - not for long or without unseen consequences anyway. I know families don’t want to be ridiculed and probably in their mind, they were trying to protect me and didn’t want me to stand out or get bullied. But I did stand out. I wish they’d let me be myself, held my hand through the difficult moments and taught me to use my voice so that the bullies would hear my roar.

I’m driven, ambitious and know what I want but it was clear that the careers I went after saw my presentation before they saw what I could actually offer them. I wasn’t going out of my way to disrupt the status quo or the dress code, it's just that their dress codes and notions of femininity were so suffocatingly rigid. It would never have let me give my best, in fact, I’m not convinced it does many women.

I’ve found work that I love and where I can be myself, and there’s no better feeling than working for and being yourself, but I was almost forced to venture out by myself. I had the guts and was in a position in life to take a risk, but what about the other people, who can’t jump ship and who also don’t fit in the gender binary. I’m still healing from trying to be someone I wasn’t, trying to perform a role that I shouldn't have had to. I don’t always get it right and sometimes that’s a human thing, but make no mistake, sometimes it’s a trauma thing. 

We both party a lot less now and it’s because of Bertie and River. They give me the confidence to drink less, to be myself and my mental health has come a long way. I’m still trying to let go of how people perceive me - it was a fear I held on to my whole life. But it’s time to let it go now. I know who I am.’ 

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