When Luci Virgo came out to her community for the first time, she put on a dress, had her make-up done, and proudly walked down Mount Gambier’s main street — feeling free for the first time.

It was her 49th birthday.

“That was literally the first time I put a dress on and just walked out … I was just being myself,” Ms Virgo said.

Over two years on from Ms Virgo’s transition, her message to others is that it’s never too late.

A woman sits and smiles for the camera in a dress with blue flowers

Ms Virgo says it is “never too late” to live as your authentic self.(ABC South East SA: Sandra Morello)

Ms Virgo works at OneFortyOne, one of Australia’s largest timber sawmills. 

She said she is the first ‘out’ transgender person within the local forestry industry and is “eternally grateful” to her workplace and colleagues for their acceptance.

“Trying to explain to someone with no frame of reference is very difficult. I just did not know how to go about doing it … Within a week, my level of anxiety soared,” Ms Virgo said.

“Sometimes they do use the wrong name …” Ms Virgo said, referring to her birth name.

“But now when someone does forget to use my name, most people realise and correct themselves without a problem. They don’t need me to prompt very often.”

Community support

Since having come out to the world as Luci, Ms Virgo said it has become easier with each passing day to become more comfortable in her own skin.

The 51-year-old said she has been humbled by the support from her community.

“I’ve been accepted everywhere in Mount Gambier. The most I get is a few stares,” she explained.

A woman smiles and stares into the distance outside a timber mill

Luci Virgo says she is the first ‘out’ transgender woman in the south-east SA timber industry.(ABC South East SA: Sandra Morello)

Out and proud

Today is National and World Coming out Day.

Ms Virgo said during the 18 months she has been out as a proud transgender woman, she has experienced other people ‘outing’ her to friends, colleagues, and loved ones — depriving her of the opportunity of what she describes as “one of the most important moments in my life”.

“It did upset me quite a lot, because it was something that was taken out of my hands,” Ms Virgo said.

Luci said she doesn’t think people quite understand the significance of ‘outing’ another person without their consent, after confronting a colleague who had.

“She didn’t understand. She still doesn’t understand.”

A message to others

Luci Virgo said she hopes she can be an inspiration for other transgender people to feel they can finally come out, and live as they truly are.

“Some people put off a transition, or prolong it,” she said.

A woman stands in an alley and smiles off in the distance

Luci Virgo says it is a relief to live as who she truly is.(ABC South East SA: Sandra Morello)

Luci appears in an upcoming episode of the ABC’s new podcast Innies + Outies which features stories from LGBTQIA+ Australians about coming out or staying in.

The Episode will be released on November 1st. 

Posted , updated 

‘I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror’: How Luci came out to herself and her community
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