A national LGBTQI+ storytelling project curated by Maeve Marsden
featuring a book, event series and an award-winning podcast

A national LGBTQI+ storytelling project curated by Maeve Marsden
featuring a book, event series and award-winning podcast

280 Dale Sheridan – You Can’t Fight Nature

Dale shares a story about facing her fears relating to transition during a trip to Nepal.

Dale Sheridan is a writer, transgender advocate and lawyer. Her writing on transgender and broader LGBTIQ+ issues has been published in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Canberra Times, Stuff.co.nz and snowsbest.com. She has also appeared on ABC Radio and at various public speaking engagements to share aspects of her lived experience as a woman with a transgender history.


Maeve: Hi I’m Maeve Marsden and you’re listening to Queerstories. This week, Dale Sheridan is a writer, transgender advocate and lawyer. Her writing has been published in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Canberra Times, Stuff.co.nz and snowsbest.com. She performed this story in Canberra in 2021, at an event we squeezed in between pandemic waves.


In 2010, I was on holidays in the Serengeti in Tanzania when a massive, alpha-male,  silverback baboon charged me because it wanted my pack of fruit pastilles. They go crazy for sugar. Everyone was screaming  – “don’t look it in the eyes. It’ll rip your fucking face off”. 

I’m not great in confrontational or sticky situations. I never make the smart choice. Most people would’ve thrown the pack of fruit pastilles away. Not me – I turned my back to the raging baboon and put the fruit pastilles in my pocket. The baboon backed down and I didn’t even get a scratch.

I really enjoyed eating those fruit pastilles. Dale 1: Baboon 0.

I have boobs. But, I didn’t used to have boobs. They’re courtesy of the boob roids that’ve been stabbed into my arse for the past 7 years. As those of us with boobs will know, as will boob connoisseurs, that with great boobs comes great power, and male attention. Male attention is not necessarily new for me, it’s just different now that I have boobs. Back in the good old days, life was much more simple. Male attention consisted of a punch in the face at play lunch. Despite the fact that I see the world through the same eyes, the world now sees me very differently.

Not only do I now have another option to poke someone’s eyes out, a little shelf to catch all the food I spill, and career prospects at Hooters – my expanded chest area attracts a different type of attention from men. Prior to presenting in female mode, I undertook counselling and did a lot of thinking; planning exactly what I’d say and do in the event of some rigorous male attention. It honestly scared the shit out of me.

In late 2014 during the early stage of my transition, I wasn’t coping very well. So I did what most people would do in this situation: I went to Nepal to trek to Mt Everest Base Camp. A few months after MH370 disappeared I booked a flight to Nepal on Malaysia Airlines, and then flew into one of the deadliest airports in the world that literally runs up the side of a mountain on the edge of a big fucking cliff, so I could trek through one of the harshest and deadly places in the world – and people are saying 2020 was crazy! I’d been taking oestrogen for about 8 months, which was slowly changing my 32 year old body although I was still presenting in guy mode. The first and most obvious change were my nipples. They were so painful, and really, really, really enthusiastic. I quickly realised after the first day of hiking, in the thin mountain air that a sweaty t-shirt and over enthusiastic nipples were not a wholesome combination. I didn’t have quite enough boob at this stage to fill a bra so I ended up taming my little girls by putting a bandaid over each nipple. A Himalayan training bra if you like. I was also losing lots of weight. The rough edges of my jaw and cheeks were starting to soften. My once short cropped hair was now a blonde shaggy mop, that I tucked back behind my ears. Despite my delight at the changes to my body, I kept my transition on the down low. I was still very ashamed and embarrassed that I was trans. I was really worried that people in my trekking group would notice my feminising features and ridicule me. One day while resting atop a hill, a guy in my trekking group told me I looked like Julian Assange. Of all the side effects of hormones, I wasn’t expecting that one.

After 10 days of hiking up through the small sherpa villages, eating all of the momo’s on a pile of rocks covered in prayer flags, looking up at the majestic and rugged Khumbu ice fall, all I could think about was the impending doom that was awaiting me on my arrival home. Despite wanting to transition so badly, I was fucking terrified.

Fast forward a week and I was cruising through the security checks at Kathmandu Airport, obviously aided by all the prayer wheels I spun. At the last security checkpoint before stepping out onto the tarmac, I lined up for the last time in the male security pat down line (ewww). I was quite worried, mainly because of all the arrest warrants out for Julian Assange. I shuffled forward in the queue and eventually assumed my position for my frisk search. The short Nepalese male security guard started by grabbing my ankles tightly. His firm grip shimmied up my calves, into my inner thigh, my crotch, around to my boney butt, up my back, before bringing his hands around to my stomach. I’m really tall – 6 foot, and this guy was way shorter than me – pushing 5 foot, max. This frisk search was a sight more spectacular than the sun rising over the icy summit of Mt Everest. His hands continued to move firmly up from my stomach. I looked away hoping that would fix the problem. His creeping hands slowly found their way onto my budding breasts and locked on tighter than a trans woman holding a prescription for oestrogen. I decided it was probably an appropriate opportunity to come grips with the male attention I was receiving and man-up one last time and face my fear front on. I looked down to inspect the site of the rendezvous. I saw a mop of black curly hair slowly tilt back to give way to the widest, most terrified pair of brown eyes looking up at me. Our eyes locked. Neither of us spoke. Time froze. I was standing in a starfish position while his two hands were still stuck on my boobs, in the intimate presence of a few hundred other passengers. The only thing I could think about at this point was: I wonder what’s going though this security guard’s mind? Surely he’s been doing pat downs for years, picking up nail scissors and coins and now he’s thinking, he’s hit the jackpot and finally found the notorious boob bomber? Or more likely, he’s caught Julian Assange smuggling top secret momo recipes out of Nepal in a sophisticated boob apparatus.

After what felt like an eternity, the security guard finally found some courage of his own to double check his surrounds. His face and demeanour became instantly relieved upon sighting the separate women’s security pat down queue a few meters away, snaking back into the terminal. The security guards hands finally retracted from my boobs like a flimsy skill tester claw dropping a cheap Casio watch. I picked up my bag and embarked on my walk of shame to the safety of the Malaysian Airlines plane parked on the tarmac ready to fly home.

As the plane took off above the smokey haze that lingered over Kathmandu, I looked out the window to see the snowy peaks of the Himalayas in the distance one last time. I still couldn’t enjoy it because I once again let my fears of my transition ruin a good moment. It’s absolutely ridiculous when you think about it rationally. I’d done so much crazy, fucked up shit with such reckless abandon. I’d trekked to base camp, I flew on dodgy planes into the worlds deadliest airport, I faced my fear of male attention front on and I took on a fucking baboon over some fruit pastels. But I still couldn’t do something as simple as face my true self and wear a dress in public. When I arrived back in Australia, fortuitously my bag full of smelly boy clothes didn’t arrive. Was it the universe giving me a kick up the arse? Or was it just airline incompetence. Perhaps a bit of both. So I just did it. I ripped the bandaids off. Figuratively and literally. I liberated my nipples from their oppressive, sticky bandaid overlords and got myself a proper bra. I put on a dress and took a really deep breathe and stepped outside to face the world. Not even all the crazy shit I did could prevent who I was destined to be. I guess you can’t fight nature. Except if you’re crazy enough to take on a baboon that wants your fucking fruit pastels.

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Queerstories is produced by Maeve Marsden and recorded by wonderful technicians at events around the country. Editors and support crew have included Beth McMullen, Bryce Halliday, Ali Graham and Nikki Stevens.