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Former Home And Away star Mat Stevenson made a powerful appearance on The Sunday Project with his transgender daughter, Grace Hyland.
When Grace was 12-years-old she came out and started her transition until she was 14, taking testosterone blockers and changing her name.
“By the time I was fourteen, I was fully presenting as Grace to the public and at school,” the now 20-year-old told Lisa Wilkinson on The Sunday Project.
Grace’s dad, Mat Stevenson, who played Adam Cameron in Home And Away in the ‘90s, said her transition ‘made sense’.
“All through Grace’s early years, she would gravitate towards things female and when I saw Grace run towards authenticity and just jump over all the hurdles to do so, I without doubt had a front row seat to the most courageous thing I’d seen,” he continued.
Mat said that ‘it was a little awkward at first’, calling Grace sweetheart instead of mate, but he needed to adjust and ‘feminise his approach’.
“As a bloke, it was pretty awkward to go to my male friendship group and say my son’s now my daughter, but then I look at the challenges and the difficulty of sharing that in comparison with the challenges that Grace sailed through and they pale into insignificance,” he said.
When Lisa Wilkinson asked Mat how his friends reacted, he said some of his friends got it, but some ‘just couldn’t’.
“Some really struggled with the concept. I’m a member of the local cricket club, I remember one of the boys came up to me, and said ‘Stevo, I just, I don’t get it mate. I just don’t get it.’ And I said, ‘It’s OK buddy, you don’t have to get it, all I’m asking you to do is love my daughter and show some empathy’. He goes, ‘Yeah, I can do that’.”
Grace commended her father for his support, saying she would not be where she is today without him.
Mat drew attention to the high youth suicide rates in Australia, saying: “Sadly in this country, we have a really high adolescent suicide rate and it's a tragedy. Trans-adolescents are 36 times more likely to self-harm. To commit suicide.
“There's a distinct correlation between lack of support and self-harm. I didn't want my daughter to become one of those statistics.”
Grace, who has 133,000 followers on TikTok, regularly posts updates about her journey, however Mat said he ‘struggles’ with the negative reactions online.
“When people make comments like that to courageous people who are trying to navigate their identity, it’s like a loaded gun,’ he said.
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