A New Skin- From Anthony to Antonia

From Only Human , 7:00 am on 6 August 2020

“I’ve dyed my white hair. At home I don’t have to wear a wig,” says Antonia Pearce from a cafe in Auckland’s bustling suburb of Ponsonby.


In this episode of Only Human we meet Antonia, formerly Anthony John Pearce.

Antonia in her play Testostrogen

Antonia in her play Testostrogen Photo: Andi Crown


Antonia Joanna Pearce has the kind of legs that many women would envy and while she towers above most women, she isn’t afraid to don a pair of heels.



Now in her early seventies, Pearce loves to shop. She has a wardrobe bursting at the seams and a collection of around 16 wigs - one to suit every outfit and mood. You could say, she’s a girl’s girl. And when she gets together with her friends, she chats and giggles about guys.


But things haven’t always been so rosy for Pearce. 


It was almost a decade ago that she made the transition away from her former life as Anthony John Pearce.


As a young man, ‘Anthony’ was a handsome singer-songwriter who had no shortage of female attention. He was married and has children. He played guitar, he was a boat builder...he did the kinds of things that would make him just one of the guys.


Except one day everything changed. Pearce was in her fifties when she went through a kind of male menopause, otherwise known as Andropause - a change in male hormones. 


It was devastating and came as a complete shock - one that was physically and mentally overwhelming. 

Young Anthony grew up as a happy child.

Young Anthony grew up as a happy child. Photo: Suuplied


"Men don’t talk about it,” she says as she flicks through a file of old black and white family photographs, including one of her as a school boy.


When the hormone changes started happening, 'Anthony' experienced a dramatic loss of libido, which eventually led to more feminine tendencies.


“It’s quite traumatic,” says Pearce who wrote a play called Testostrogen, based around these experiences.


“I was not a macho man ever...I was always a heterosexual male.”


Eventually the physical changes led to a decision to transition from male to female, which has altered family relationships. She has also become accustomed to sideways glances from passersby, but the biggest surprise and one she never anticipated, was being attracted to men.


“I know people look at me and say, ‘you’re a man dressed as a woman,’ even though I don’t look too bad,” says Pearce. 


Find out more about what it meant for Anthony to become Antonia in the latest episode of Only Human.  

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