In May, 2021, Darrien McWatters underwent gender reassignment surgery in Montreal. The surgery came more than three years after McWatters came out as transgender. (Contributed)

In May, 2021, Darrien McWatters underwent gender reassignment surgery in Montreal. The surgery came more than three years after McWatters came out as transgender. (Contributed)

Summerland firefighter’s transgender identity began 3 years ago

‘My personality hasn’t changed. I just say I’m in a prettier package now.’

Three years after coming out as transgender, Darrien McWatters has undergone gender reassignment surgery.

“It’s not minor surgery,” McWatters said of the procedure which was done at GRS Montreal in May. The procedure was done three weeks ago, but the transitioning process began in the fall of 2017, when McWatters said she came out to herself. Then, in January, 2018, she came out publicly.

At first she described herself as “gender fluid,” sometimes identifying as male and at other times identifying as female. But as time went on, this term lost its meaning.

READ ALSO: Summerland transgender female follows her passion for hockey

READ ALSO: Task force shares ideas to help Canadian sports associations be more LGBTQ-inclusive

“For me, it was never about being born in the wrong body,” she said “I just felt the male embodiment of myself fading away.”

While she was a student at Summerland Secondary School in the late 1980s and early 1990s, she said there were no openly transgender students at the school. Today, a significant number of people in her circle of close friends are LGBTQI2S+. Her children also have friends and acquaintances who are LGBTQI2S+.

While coming out as transgender and undergoing surgery have been significant, many aspects of McWatters’ life have carried on as before.

She continues to have a close relationship with her children and has received support from neighbours and others she knows in Summerland.

Other activities are also continuing, as she volunteers as a hockey coach and referee. She also continues to serve as a volunteer firefighter with the Summerland Fire Department. She said Summerland Fire Chief Glenn Noble urged her to continue as a firefighter after she came out as transgender.

She reminds people that despite the changes in her life over the past few years, who she is still remains the same.

“My personality hasn’t changed,” she said. “I just say I’m in a prettier package now.”

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In 2017, when this picture was taken, Darrien McWatters had not yet identified as transgender. (Contributed)

In 2017, when this picture was taken, Darrien McWatters had not yet identified as transgender. (Contributed)

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