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Dr. Kathryn Davis, PhD, knows first hand that it's never too late to create the life you've always wanted.
In 2016, Davis underwent gender affirmation surgery at 70 to actualize her dream of living as a trans woman. Her journey towards living an authentic life and finding her place within the LGBTQ+ community has served as the inspiration for a new music video by Canadian singer, Maggie Szabo.
Davis, who was born and raised in Toronto, knew from a young age that her gender was female. In a phone interview from her home in Los Angeles, Davis shared with Yahoo Canada the pressures that prevented her transition.
"I've known since I was about three that I was trans.I used to love putting on my sister's clothes and getting dressed up," Davis said. "My mother would ask me, 'Why do you keep putting on your sister's clothes?' and I would say, 'I want to be a girl when I grow up and I want to dress nicely."
While Davis struggled with puberty, and her identity as trans remained important to her, she did her best to carry on with her life.
"I tried to be the man everyone wanted me to be," she said of the time before her first attempt at transitioning in the '90s. "I got married, I had two kids, but my wife could not handle that part of me, even though she tried very hard. It was difficult."
Davis met her second wife and remarried, adding two more children to her family. Although the pair eventually divorced, her second wife was aware of her decision to transition and "understanding."
Things changed when Davis disclosed her decision to pursue gender-confirmation procedures with her employer and was terminated.
Despite holding a PhD in Physical Education from Pennsylvania State University and working as a biomechanics expert and instructor, Davis was unable to find work.The stress of being unable to provide for her children led her to the difficult decision to de-transition in order to find work. Davis had already been undergoing hormone replacement therapy and part of her de-transition was receiving a double mastectomy.
"I remember going in for surgery just crying and crying. I love my children. They're the joy of my life," Davis recalled, without a trace fo regret detectable in her voice. "I would do anything for them - I did it for them."
After de-transitioning, Davis was offered a job as a consultant in Los Angeles and relocated with her youngest son.
It wasn't until 2011 when Davis suffered a life-threatening medical emergency, going into cardiac arrest twice on the operating table.
"I remember coming out of the surgery and feeling a profound sense of peace and relaxation and a knowing that it was time for me to be who I really am," Davis said of what she describes as a near death experience.
After a lengthy and intense recovery process, Davis revealed to her family her intentions to transition once again. The changing social landscape had created a more accepting corporate environment for those who identify as LGBTQ+, creating the opportunity for Davis to undergo gender-confirmation surgery in 2016.
"I'm Christian and read devotionals every morning. The morning after my surgery, I brought my devotional to my hospital bed, I opened it up and it read, 'And the potter was not happy with his creation, so he reshaped it into a form that was more pleasing to him,'"Davis recalled. "I read that and thought, 'Thank you Lord.' For me it was a sign of Him saying, 'You've done the thing that you should do, sister. Move ahead.'"
Davis has become a pillar of the LGBTQ+ community in Los Angeles, and was a founding member of the Trans Chorus Of Los Angeles, which performed during U.S. President Biden's Inaugural Parade earlier this year.
Recently, Davis agreed to appear in Szabo's music video for her song, "Rebuild," which was directed by Alexa Best, a trans woman.
“I met Kathryn a couple of years ago via our work with the Trans Chorus of LA. We realized we are both Canadians and became fast friends," Szabo told Yahoo Canada. "Once I got to know her more, I knew I immediately wanted to share her story in the music video for ‘Rebuild.’ Her courage and her journey have the power to inspire action, whether on an individual level or on a larger scale by supporting social change. Kathryn teaches us all that it's never too late to live as your true, authentic self.”
For Davis, sharing her story is helpful to encouraging the trans community to feel empowered and move from "victim to victorious."
“The video crew were all women on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. It was fun and enjoyable and so professional,” she said. “We didn’t talk about gender, we were focused on what we were doing. That’s what I love to see happening within our community, people’s experiences are normalized.”