Camden Haven resident Ali Challinor battled for decades over her identity and the inner turmoil impacted her mental health and personal relationships.
She's 64-years-old and proud to be a transgender person.
March 31 marks the Transgender Day of Visibility - an opportunity for members of the community to celebrate people who are transgender, as well as raise awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide.
Ali works at Coles in Laurieton and on March 31 her workplace will support the day, by hosting a morning tea and inviting staff to dress up.
"We want transgender people to know they have support," Laurieton Coles customer service manager Kathy Mangan said.
"We're accepting of all people regardless of their background, gender or beliefs."
According to Suicide Prevention Australia, LGBTIQ+ people have higher rates of mental ill-health and suicide than the general population in Australia, due to experiences of discrimination and stigma.
Its research shows transgender people aged 18 and over are nearly 11 times more likely to attempt suicide (48.1 per cent report attempting suicide).
Ali hopes acknowledgement of the Transgender Day of Visibility will make other transgender people, who live in the Camden Haven, feel accepted by the community.
"Unfortunately they all seem to be hiding still," she said.
"I would love to make it so they are comfortable enough to be themselves, whether they are sitting at home or out in the community."
Ali moved to the Camden Haven three years ago with her partner Karina. When they first arrived, Ali was openly stared at and greeted with a lot of negativity.
"This still happens but only on rare occasions," she said.
"I think people in this area are mostly accepting now and I have some great friends from across different age groups."
Ali started cross dressing when she was a child and said it made her feel like who she should be.
However, her actions weren't accepted by her parents.
"I was told that what I was doing was wrong," she said.
"I don't blame my parents because they just didn't know any better.
"They were from a different generation."
Ali got married and had three children, but the relationship eventually broke down.
"I spilt with my wife 20 years ago," she said.
In the years which followed Ali discovered the person she truly wanted to be.
"I always thought there was something wrong with me but I couldn't fix it," she said.
Ali met her partner Karina 11 years ago. She encouraged Ali to see a psychologist.
"After that everything started to fit into place," she said.
Ali feels confident to embrace who she is.
"If they want to stare then they can," she said.
"I'm going to give them something to look at."
For access to 24 hour crisis support, please contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.
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