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The Inertia

In the early 1970s, Peter Drouyn was a champion surfer from Queensland, Australia. He surfed fast and hard, a pundit of rail-to-rail surfing; he took first place at the Makaha International in 1970; and he was a charismatic ladies man out of the water. With droopy eyes and bozo the clown hair, his physical appearance matched his distinct surfing and vibrant personality. But the Peter Drouyn of the seventies has since disappeared – for the past 10 years, he’s been living as a woman.

Earlier this year, author Jamie Brisick released a book chronicling Peter’s transition into Westerly Windina. And to accompany the book, Brisick has a documentary about the journey in the works. Becoming Westerly comes after five years of documentation and interviews between Brisick and Windina. The result was eye-opening – a look behind the curtain of someone struggling with gender identity and societal norms. With all eyes on Caitlyn Jenner’s every move, humanity is currently transfixed by gender issues. But before there was Caitlyn, there was Westerly.

In a clip from the coming documentary, Brisick brings together some of surfing’s greats (Rabbit, Shaun Tomson, Peter Townend, etc.) to talk about the legendary, near mythical career of Peter Drouyn. They comment on Peter’s powerful surfing style, his competitive drive and his quirky personality, too. But after bursting an ear-drum during a wipeout in 2003, that Peter ceased to exist. Peter died that day and Westerly was born; he began taking hormones and ultimately had a sexual reassignment surgery from a Bangkok doctor in 2013. Becoming Westerly documents the changes Westerly endured to get where she is today. But it also shows what’s stayed the same – her love for surfing.

It’s almost like the wave and I smile together. And our smiles combine into one. We’re both happy for what we are, who we are.

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