Culture Buff

Heather Mitchell

21 April 2018

9:00 AM

21 April 2018

9:00 AM

This probably is a bad idea; I mean writing a column about a transgender person. Even Germain Greer got herself into hot water with comments on the subject. Indeed she ‘dug herself further into a hole’ by repeating some of her views on Q&A in April 2016. So if she got into trouble, caution is needed.

I’m in this territory because the Sydney Theatre Company has opened a play by Priscilla Jackman called Still Point Turning: The Catherine McGregor Story. Called ‘verbatim theatre’; Jackman, who is also the director, has said that ‘99 per cent of the words spoken on stage in this play are Catherine’s.’ That sounds fairly verbatim, but the words still have to be marshalled into some sort of dramatic shape. It’s a story that is now widely known.


Lieutenant Colonel Catherine McGregor (b.1956), formerly Malcolm, began transitioning to life as a transgender woman in 2012. Difficult as that process must have been, she had some high-level support. The Chief of Army, General David Morrison refused to accept her resignation, retaining her services famously as a speech writer, although they fell out in December 2016. She maintained her long-term friendship with Tony Abbott.

She is by no means the only transgender woman in Australia but she has managed to become the most famous, as well as being a cricket commentator. Three actors play her at various stages; all parties are fortunate to have the present day Cate played by Heather Mitchell.

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