Eddie Ayres learnt the viola as a child in England, studied in Berlin and London before playing the viola for eight years with the Hong Kong Philharmonic. As Emma Ayres, she moved from Hong Kong to Australia to present a long-running and extremely popular radio program on ABC Classic FM, while teaching music privately and professionally.
When Emma hung up her headphones at the end of 2014, there was a public outpouring of emotion. This tattooed, intelligent, warm and witty woman had made her way into the hearts of many Australians.
Too much to lose
What the devoted audience didn’t see, however, was Emma’s daily struggle to live within her woman’s body. For 16 years, she knew that she was transgender but to take any action seemed impossible. Emma believed there was too much to lose – family, friends and her career.
In 2016, Emma accepted a position teaching cello, viola and double bass to Afghanistan’s children at the world-renowned Afghanistan National Institute of Music. Amid the chaos and unpredictability of life in war-savaged Kabul, Emma realised she had to accept her future and returned to Australia to begin transitioning from female to male. In 2016, Emma became Eddie.
‘When I realised I was transgender, it was a life-destroying moment: I knew from then on that I would never be happy until I did something about it. But to do something about it meant possibly losing everything. It turned out that I lost everything because I didn’t do anything about it.’
Catch Eddie Ayers at Byron Writers Festival in conversation with former Sydney Morning Herald music editor Bernard Zuel on Friday 3 August and in the session On the Road Again with This Restless Life author Brigid Delaney and Kari Gislason, who wrote The Promise of Iceland and co-authored Saga Land with Richard Fidler.
Festival tickets at www.byronwritersfestival.com.
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