The relationship between sisters is often tricky.
Parents going through the ‘hair-pulling one minute, allies against the world the next’ stage are invariably told that time has a way of smoothing out the bumps.
With Sinead Watson and her big sister Andrea, this is certainly true.
Their ‘bump’, however, is anything but typical. For them, enjoying each other’s sisterly company is a precious privilege, hard won.
Because from the age of 23, Sinead lived as a man — having privately thought of herself as transgender from the age of 21 — only realising four years ago at 27 that she had made a terrible mistake, and detransitioning at 28.
But some damage is irreversible. She had a full mastectomy and, owing to the testosterone she took for years, she has been left with a gruff voice and facial hair she removes every two days.
‘I’m still trying to forgive myself and the medical profession,’ she says quietly.
‘When I told doctors at the gender clinic I hated my body and wanted to be a man, they never questioned why. If they had, they might have discovered that my body dysphoria wasn’t the cause of my problems. It was the symptom. I was about to make the biggest decision of my life but I wasn’t offered in-depth counselling. Instead, I was effectively left to self-diagnose.’
Sinead’s anger and her pointed accusations against the doctors and psychiatrists who enabled her transition as a frightened and deeply unhappy young woman are incendiary and, as many have discovered to their cost, sure to provoke fierce, opposing reactions.
But what no one can dispute is that Sinead’s scars, physical and psychological, run very deep.