Trans fundraiser’s tribute to dead son

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A gender equality campaigner from the North East paid tribute to her son, saying his tragic death inspired her to raise money for charity.

Justine Smithies had been recovering from gender reassignment for two weeks when her son 15 year-old Cameron fell off the cliffs at Slains Castle.

The tragedy, near their home at Cruden Bay, in June 2013 taught Justine that “you only live once, so make the most of your time here and just be yourself”.

She raised over £2000 for Stonewall Scotland, a gender and sexuality equality charity, through a 10000ft skydive, something that she described as “totally random for me as I even hate the top diving board at a swimming pool”.

Mrs Smithies chose the extreme sport in honour of her son, who she described as a thrill-seeker.

“He always liked doing dangerous things, he was a dare devil,” she said.

She added that she is still getting sponsors after the event, and that a lot of them have been from fishermen in Peterhead and Fraserburgh, who she works alongside as a marine electronics engineer.

“I came out with these guys as transgender,” she said, “and people said I was mad and wouldn’t be accepted.

“I have proven all the doubters wrong. The people up here have been far more understanding than down south.”

And to raise awareness for LGBT rights locally, she has set up a web site justbeyourself.org.uk to build a support network in Aberdeenshire.

She said it would be “really beneficial to have some stuff up here, as everything seems to be south of the border or just north in Glasgow and Edinburgh.”

She hopes the group will have enough interest to warrant meetings and will be looking at doing talks at local schools to teach children about the “rights and wrongs of bullying and that you can just be yourself”.