A CYCLIST on a personal gender journey is taking on the first ever ‘Tour de Trans’, in an epic 1000-mile trip to John O’Groats.

After coming out as trans non-binary in March 2020, Paeton McGuire was left feeling isolated, vulnerable, and desperate.

Their journey has not been easy, with a lifetime spent trying to be the “‘normal’ cis-gendered man” they felt was expected of them.

Now, Paeton and their son, 17-year-old Callum McGuire, are together undertaking an epic journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats, cycling as they raise awareness and funds for trans+ issues and start positive conversations about gender identity.

“I had struggled with gender incongruence and gender dysphoria pretty much my whole life”, confessed Paeton.

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HeraldScotland: Paeton and Callum began their journey in Land's EndPaeton and Callum began their journey in Land's End

“I always thought I was gay because whenever I tried to be myself, I was subjected to quite unpleasant homophobic and transphobic abuse.

“So at university decided it wasn’t worth it anymore, and I kept that part of myself hidden, trying to lead the very heteronormative life that was expected of me.

“I tried to be a normal cis-gendered man, but was never happy.”

It took until they were 53 years old to finally engage with the concept of being non-binary, in a realisation that allowed them to be their true self for the first time in their life.

“I left the corporate world to pursue writing, but the problem was, I wasn’t writing with an authentic voice”, said Paeton.

“I realised that the reason behind it was that part of me had been locked away since I was a teenager, and I had to confront it.

“That’s when I realised that’s what I am. I’m transgender and non-binary.”

And thanks to the incredible support from their loved ones, Paeton was able to put themself “back together as an integrated person.”

“Now that I’m able to just be who I am, I’ve had to go back right the way into my childhood and re-knit myself”, they said.

“When you realise that the person you thought you were is not the real you, it’s very confusing and isolating, and there was a lot of anxiety and fear.

“At my age, I had to come to terms with the fact that I’d wasted the majority of my life trying to be someone I’m not.”

In this stage of their transition, Paeton’s love of cycling seemed like the perfect way in which to pay forward the support they had received from the Chrysalis charity, which provides support to trans+, non-binary and questioning people and their families.

Their journey is taking them from Land’s End to John O’Groats, and they hope their message will encourage people from across Britain – trans+ people, their families and allies - to join in the ‘pRide along’ by cycling in pride colours, posting a photograph to social media with the hashtag ‘tourdetrans’, and making a donation.

HeraldScotland:

“I can do it to raise money for Chrysalis and make it a journey a celebration of not only my own personal journey but just being positive about what it means to be trans.

“It’s for all people who feel that they’re not included in society because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

“It doesn’t matter what a person’s gender identity or expression is, they’re still a human being that has as much right to dignity and respect as the next person.”

Riding alongside Paeton is their son Callum, who has been a “fantastic” supporter of their parent throughout.

Paeton added: “He’s had to come to terms with the world as he knew it changing. The person he’s been calling ‘Dad’ his whole life, he’s not calling that person that anymore.”

Both sons Callum and James now called Paeton ‘Maddy’ – a term used by some families to describe a parent who is transgender or gender diverse.

“I’ve had a lot of support and a lot of acceptance, which has made things a lot less traumatic than they could have been.

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“My eldest son James called my previous life my ‘caterpillar phase’, and now I’m in my ‘butterfly phase.’”

Callum, who has been with Paeton on the journey taking them from the bottom of England to the top of Scotland, says the trip has been like “a rollercoaster over Mount Everest” – both physically and emotionally.

He said: “It was a big thing when they first came out in March, but to be honest I had suspected that there was something going on behind the brave face that they were putting on.

“It was definitely a surprise, but it was a good surprise, because it was more of them to go around than before.

“I’ve always been into cycling and this journey is something that I’ve always wanted to do. So when they first asked me, I answered ‘yes’ more out of wanting to do the ride, but as it’s developed I’ve realised what it means to them, and what they wanted out of it.

“I’m very proud to be part of it.”

Dom Miller-Graham from Scottish LGBTQI+ charity Pink Saltire said: "It was a pleasure for Pink Saltire to introduce Paeton, Callum and the Tour de Trans team to Scotland’s LGBTQI+ community. 

"Paeton’s personal story as it’s expressed so beautifully by the Tour De Trans, is relatable to so many in our community and definitely something we can all celebrate together, as Paeton has already said, across genders and across Britain! 

"I’m really looking forward to meeting them all in person, however distanced, when they reach Edinburgh.”

You can follow Paeton and Callum’s journey on social media and donate to their gofundme page here.