Jamie Brisick recently released his book, Becoming Westerly, and it’s an enthralling, deeply moving look into the life and transformation of Australian surfer, Peter Drouyn.
A legendary figure of the surf world in the sixties and seventies, Drouyn championed an aggressive movement in the water known as ‘power surfing.’ Throughout his career and life, Drouyn tried his hand at many ventures, including acting, law, and even, at one point, founding a modeling school. Becoming Westerly documents the enormous prejudices, challenges and ultimately, changes that Drouyn had to endure to become Westerly Windina, the woman he has been living as for almost a decade. Brisick spent nearly five years with Westerly both in person and over countless hours on Skype calls, reminiscing on the old times while tackling the hurdles of the present and future. At one point, Brisick recalls Westerly speaking of “throwing in the towel”, saying that if not for her son, Zac, ‘I’d have already done myself in, but I know my son needs me.’ Nothing is kept secret of swept under the rug here—there’s even a chapter covering their visit to Yanhee hospital in Bangkok, where Westerly got her gender reassignment operation in 2012. Some parts are hard to take in, like the post-surgery altercation with Westerly’s brother, Peter, who remarks, “My heart and mind are utterly broken…He’s my brother, he’s—I don’t know—a eunuch.” The way the book and story ends is a total tearjerker, leaving you feeling sad, but hopeful—just like Westerly.
You can buy your copy here. Documentary is on its way.