‘In the 60s a male’s male and a female’s female. And I was always wanting to wear females’ clothes. I didn’t feel that I was a male, there was no way. I was born with a female’s mind stuck in this horrible body. And people just fucked it.’
Delilah grew up with her two sisters in a working class family. ‘My parents were dirt poor but they tried to cope.’ Her mother was emotionally distant and her father was rarely home due to working long hours. When Delilah was first sent to school she misbehaved because of what she now understands was a learning disability.
‘I weren’t gonna toe the line … The teacher [at] the kindergarten said there was something wrong with me and they didn’t understand dyslexia.’
When she was about 12 years old in the early 1960s, Delilah was introduced by her father to a local hobby club. Delilah’s father was an acquaintance of the club’s facilitator, in whose home the club meetings were held. For approximately six months Delilah was raped and molested by the facilitator. ‘When I tried to say something, my mum said that I was making up stories and that I was “mental”.’
Although she was born with biologically male anatomy, Delilah never felt comfortable wearing boy’s clothes. ‘I started to wear my mother’s working dress at an early age. I later slept in her slips … I couldn’t understand my attraction to nylon.’ As a teenager, Delilah would often run away. This, combined with her learning disability and attraction to women’s clothing, led her parents to have her institutionalised at 16 years of age in a state-run psychiatric hospital, where ‘I was abused for about seven months every night’.
At the hospital Delilah was given alcohol and regularly sexually abused by both males and females in what she believes was an organised paedophile ring.
‘They took the clothes off me and dressed me up. And they dressed me in women’s clothing and told me to behave myself. And they made me fold myself up and they had sex with me … I was taken to a house, I was taken to a bed. I was blindfolded. They pulled my pants off and pushed the clothes up … They belted me quite a few times.
‘I was taken to a bath and cleaned. They told me I was dirty and I was kept in the bath for a long time and then they dried me. I was sore so they put cream on me, and I was bleeding and I was given some tablets. I was dressed and taken back. And this went on for eight months, and I drank a lot of bottles of whiskey or bourbon.
‘I felt like I was … a sex slave.’
Because Delilah had not been believed when she disclosed abuse in the past, she did not tell her parents about what happened in the hospital when she finally returned home.
In the years that followed Delilah routinely abused alcohol and drugs, and in her 20s tried to end her life. ‘I bought two bottles of whiskey, two bottles of sleeping tablets. And as far as I was concerned I wasn’t gonna wake up. But I did wake up, in hospital.’
After waking up in hospital, Delilah was readmitted into the same psychiatric institution she had been abused in. She has experienced enormous fear of institutions ever since.
Delilah had several romantic relationships with women and was married more than once. She had children. During her last marriage Delilah drove long distances for work and would often secretly go to the beach where she would dress as a woman and walk along the sand. Although her wife was not aware of this, the marriage did not last. ‘I used to get drunk and tell my wife about the abuse that happened to me. And I’d get so drunk … She got sick of that.’
For quite some years now Delilah has publically identified as a woman. She is currently unable to work and receives the disability support pension. Delilah receives counselling from a support worker from the Centre Against Sexual Abuse (CASA), whom she described as the first person she ever really trusted.
‘What happened to me has affected me for 56 years … What happened to me has affected me through all my marriages and relationships.’
‘I don’t want this to happen to anybody else.’