It seems common for transgender people to go through a period called “Transgender Overcompensation”. It is a period when one tries to be “right”, to fit in, to “fix oneself” and tries to prove one really belongs to the gender which the biological body and society tries to dictate one into.

This often leads to exaggerated behavior.

A lot of transgender women go through a phase of “hypermasculinity” before coming to terms with themselves. A famous example is Chelsea Manning, who as Bradley Manning joined the US army and became famous by releasing secret military information which lead to the Wikileaks scandal. I have come across multiple stories of American soldiers who joined the army before realizing what was going on within them. One of those stories can be found here: “Born Identity: One Soldier’s story of Transition”.

My phase of overcompensation lasted 20 years. I did not join the military but I became a television cameraman. During this time I was in situations which included being evacuated in an American military helicopter from a village which was cut off from the rest off the world by a massive avalanche which killed over 40 people.

The evacuation was part of the largest air bridge since the World War II Berlin air bridge.

Or climbing to the summit of Mt.Etna in Sicily during a quiet phase of the major eruption in 2002. How about me literally chasing fairies in Iceland or being confronted by Maoist rebels in Nepal on the way to Mt. Everest base camp or the week I followed around a policemen of the Los Angeles police department during his night shifts, having guns pointed at me, just to name a few.

I hang out of helicopters and race cars, met famous people, poor people and crazy people. Yes, lots of crazy people. There was never a lack of being around crazy people.

It was a strange phase for me. I never really felt comfortable with the situation. I am very grateful for the amazing experiences I was allowed to have and survive but this overcompensation is a strange thing. I was never really satisfied with my “accomplishments”. No matter how hard I tried,

I still never felt manly enough.

And it was exhausting because I was not being myself. I was like a method actor in a 20 year long performance and I got so involved in my role I forgot I was playing a role. But maintaining such a persona is really exhausting and I eventually ran out of steam.

My current life is a boring shadow of that phase and that’s perfectly fine.

I still like adventures but not to that degree. I am satisfied with the adventures I had.

I do like to tell the crazy stories of my past, though.

Adventures are much better to talk about after one had them. They tend to really suck while one is in the middle of it. A lot of people tell me that I should write a book about it. I don’t know in what context or format I would do that or who would read a collection of some random stories of an even more random german transwoman nobody even knows? BUT, now I have my blog and I thought I could share little stories of mine. And I thought I start with a period when I had reached the limit in my pursuit masculinity.

This was when I became a professional cowboy in the outback of Australia.

Storytime: Chapter 1, how I ended up in this mess

My diary for this trip

“This 6 week long employment was part of a 10 month lasting trip I took in 2000/2001 to New Zealand and Australia. I had quit my job as a cameraman at a production company in Munich, I gave up my flat, booked a flight to Auckland, New Zealand, and off I went. I did not even book accommodation for my arrival in NZ. Lots of life changing things happened during my time in NZ and Australia but in my “Chapter 1” of my MAN stories I want to focus on my job at the australian cattle station.”

I wanted to see the outback but did not have the money to go there.

I had a car but I was way out at the east coast and central Australia was far away. I had a working holiday visa (the first season it was issued to germans) and I looked for an opportunity to find work in the outback. Most backpackers went fruit picking with this visa, too boring for me.

Eventually I found an agency which advertised jobs for backpackers in remote locations, in hotels and service stations around Australia. This was more like it but I saw something better. A place called Springbrook Farm offered one week courses to learn the job as stationhands and they promised work opportunities on sheep and cattle farms after successful completion.

I booked it and headed for Springbrook Farm. For a whole week I was shown how to work with cattle, repair fences, ride horses, maintain and ride motorbikes and lots of other lots bits and things.

I cannot say I mastered any of it but I was confident I could touch things and tools without killing myself instantly.

After my course I received emails with job offers. Most of the farms were just not crazy enough for me.

Too small, to close to civilization, I was waiting for the real australian adventure.

About a month later it came. A cattle station was interested in me.

The email said that the farm sits on the eastern edge of the Simpson desert, houses 12 000 cattle and the size property was said to be 6 500 km2.

Wow! Omg, that was what I wanted. I tried to find online information. The name of the farm was Coorabulka Station. I found nothing on the internet. This was 20 years ago and world was far less connected back then.

Especially in the outback. Today, Coorabulka can be found online. It even has it’s own Wikipedia entry.

The wikipedia lists slightly different numbers for size and number of cattle but I was told those numbers back in the day. A top 100 list of Australia’s largest farms ranks Coorabulka at number 45.

It is a biiiiiiig place.

It wouldn’t find anything better than that. I called Lance, the station manager for an interview.

“Are you familiar repairing Toyota 4WD vehicles?”

“Eh, no!”

“What kind of vehicles can you repair then?”

“Eh, none, I know how to get into a car, I can find the steering wheel and in most cases the ignition.”

“Ah, ok. Well, can you repair motorbikes?”

“No, but I’m keen to learn”

“Ok mate, when can you start?”.

These are not exact quotes from the interview but it roughly went like this.

I can’t tell for sure because I only understood about 40% of what Lance said. His australian accent was extremely thick. I was surprised, though, why he asked me so much about my experiences fixing cars. I thought he should know what I can do, I had done the course after all.

A few weeks later Lance told me that he called the wrong number from the list of potential employees. He must have slipped a line.

Originally he wanted to hire the person below my name on the list, who happened to be a car mechanic.

Lance said he was so amused by my dry and honest answers that “I thought I just had to check that fella’ out.”

That’s how I got my job.

I calculated it would take me three days to drive out to Coorabulka. My 20 year old Toyota Corona was clearly not the right vehicle to go into these areas but I was exploring my manhood and took the risk.

Half my car was filled with water containers and food in the likely case something went wrong. I told a friend were I was going and would be doing routine phone calls. If she wouldn’t hear from me for a few days, I told her, call help.

And so I headed for the interior of Australia.

It was an insanely boring drive until I came into desert lands. After the township of Winton I turned onto the Kennedy Development Road, a one lane road into nothing…

For 360 km I drove straight ahead, no town, petrol station, feeling very uncomfortable in my old car.

I came past one burnt down building. The handful of cars I saw were all massive pimped up 4WD trucks. Eventually I arrived at the township of Boulia, the closest settlement to Coorabulka. I felt I was in a wild west movie when I got out of the car.

I knew the last 120 km to Coorabulka Station was an unpaved route through the desert.

I called Lance and told him that I am heading out to the station. If I don’t arrive in a few hours time, he should come and get me. The intersection to Coorabulka was a few km outside of Boulia.

When I got there and saw this dirt road heading straight into nothingness I got a bit nervous.

But I went.

And so I bounced my car through the dirt.

The soil was quite soft because it rained a few days prior to my arrival. What luck. Rain in the desert. I started slide around more and more. Then I came to quite a big mudpool and I could not go around it.

The terrain was way to rough for my car. It barely managed to stay on the track.

So I sped up as much as I could and headed straight for the mud. I got stuck almost instantly. And permanently! And hopelessley! I got out of the car.

When I stepped into the clay it felt like the ground was trying to eat me. I tried to take another step and all I managed was to pull off the boot off my foot. There was no noise, it was dead quiet! I could not see any sign of life or civiliation in any direction.

Okeeeeeeejj, I thought, Lance knows where I am. He should come and get me in a few hours time. If I am on the right track, that is. There was nothing I could do anyway and so I waited.

Biting my nails.

Being a real man is a nerve wrecking experience at times.

And then Lance came. He was laughing his his rear side off when he saw me, my car and what I had done.

I’m pretty sure he only hired me because he was bored and wanted to see in what entertaining way I would get myself killed. He hooked a chain onto my car and pulled me through the mud. I was sliding to the left and to the right, my windscreen sprinkled with brown clay. All my windscreen wipers did was to smear the clay evenly over the glass.

After I was back on dry land Lance unhooked me me and I tried to keep up with his insane speed. My poor car! At one point I hit the ground so hard the engine turned off from the impact. How this car survived this trip I don’t know. But it was never the same afterwards.

Eventually we arrived at Coorabulka Station. I was speechless.

It was, well, interesting! A few white buildings in the desert, that was pretty much it. The only thing I could hear was the power generator. It ran 24 hours. I can still hear it today in my head.

Lance introduced me to his wife and two kids. They all looked like they were extras in a Crocodile Dundee movie. His two sons were homeschooled and had a teacher via amateur radio. Twice a year they traveled to a physical school. The mail was delivered by airplane. Every 10 days or so a small Cessna would land on the airstrip next top the farm and bring letters.

Lance showed me my room.

It had an old metal cupboard in it and a metal framed bed with a thin foam mattress.

Nothing else.

I asked Lance how many backpackers from Springbrook Farm he had hired before.

“None!” he said “You are the first one, mate. Actually, mate, you are the first foreign worker on this farm, period!”

Coorabulka Station in 2001

Okeeeeeejjjjj, I thought once again, this is going to be interesting. My work mates were still out in the field busy with their job. I met them in the evening.

The team leader and my boss was Jade, a guy in his late 20’s, two broken front teeth, an oversized white cowboy hat, o’shaped legs and the way he moved resembled Gollum.

He told me he was born and raised in the outback. He only went to the east coast once, for his honeymoon. He said he hated it. He tasted the ocean water and it it tasted like crap to him. He almost knocked out the staff member of his hotel who wanted to bring his luggage into his room.

“I thought the f… idiot was trying to steal it.”

He said he hated the whole thing so much he cut his honeymoon short. They went back home after three days. When his wife was in labour he didn’t go to the hospital but to a Rodeo event instead. He was in two major car accidents and broke his back in one of them. Only to make a point, even though I don’t know which one, he on purpose lifted heavy things all the time.

The other colleagues were regular stationhands like me.

Jade and Aaron

There was Aaron, they told me he was only sixteen but to this day I don’t believe it. He looked 30, was massive, it looked like he had twice my body mass, smoked and drank like an adult. But I think he was the only decent person of the bunch.

Then there was Mark, 19 at the time, he didn’t speak much and he gave me the impression if I was to be left alone with him, he would kill me for fun.

And then there was Kyle, a soon to be professional Rodeo Rider. He could have easily played the villain in a western movie. He was not a guy one would want to mess with. Those were my colleagues. I planned to stay and work here for three months.

“I am sitting here reading through the pages of my diary and can’t believe I did this.

I have no regrets but I really risked a lot only in my attempt to prove to myself that I am a man.

In part two of my campfire storytime series I will get to the meat of the experience. When I spent up to 12 hours a day cutting off horns and testicles from living bulls, then the day I got lost in the desert and then the other day were I was attacked by a full grown bull and walked away with only bruises. This and more is to come.

But now I have to have a shower and remove my make up. Maybe I put some lotion into my hair.

How my life has changed…..”