For more than 50 years

For former Victoria sports writer, journey to happiness a life-long process

Patti Dawn Swansson earns spot in Manitoba Sports Writers Hall of Fame

For most of her life, sports was a sanctuary for Patti Dawn Swansson, a place where she could be among friends.

Often picked on by bullies because of her petite size, Swansson turned to sports as a refuge. Those who bullied her soon found she was a talented athlete in both hockey and baseball, and left her alone.

Her sports prowess took her into the newspaper business, where she wrote sports, and eventually became a sports editor and columnist for the Winnipeg Sun.

But for more than 50 years, she was living a nightmare: she was a woman trapped inside a man’s body.

“I knew from the time I was eight years old I was different,” says Swansson, 64, a Victoria resident.

Swansson, though, lived the life back then as Pat Doyle, a rough and tumble sports editor, working in the world of macho professionals.

“It was tough going into team dressing rooms to hear the language,” she recalls. “The contempt [athletes] held for gay people and for women. The misogyny was terrible.”

After several years, Swansson refused to go to dressing room interviews and found her sources elsewhere.

Seven years ago, she became true to herself, beginning the process of gender reassignment. It started with hormone therapy and ended with surgery in 2009.

Swansson’s long struggle has a triumphal ending of sorts, at least in the newspaper world. Last month, she returned to Winnipeg as one of the inductees to the Manitoba Sports Writers Hall of Fame.

“The phone call came out of the blue,” she says. “I started to laugh because I’ve been out of the business so long.”

Swansson moved to Victoria in 1999 and toiled at a variety of jobs. There were the cleaning jobs, work in an antique store and even a brief stint as sports editor of the Victoria News.

The induction in the hall of fame is something special.

“I just did my job, so to be recognized, it was lovely,” she says.

But to those who know her, Swansson did more than just come into work every day and do her job.

Swansson is one of the finest journalists longtime friend and former co-worker Dave Komosky ever came across.

“Patti is very serious about the newspaper business. She has a really nice touch with words and humour,” he says.

Komosky, who first worked with Swansson in 1972 and was a coworker at both the now-defunct Winnipeg Tribune and the Winnipeg Sun, says there was no indication the sportswriter wanted to be a woman.

“She seemed to like women. She had three wives and five kids over the years.”

Along the way, Swansson has had a huge influence on many people’s careers, in media circles from Toronto to Winnipeg, adds Komosky.

To Swansson, though, the biggest influence she might have is on a gay youth who has aspirations of becoming a sports writer.

“I don’t know a gay sports writer in Canada, male or female,” she says.

“For me to get this award is what it represents. I hope a gay youth reads about it, hears about it and can understand that if I can do it, then they can do it. They won’t have to hide in the closet any longer.”

 

 

Just Posted

Victoria’s Other Secret not so secret anymore

How six Mount Doug teachers turned a lunch jam into $11,000 raised for charity

PHOTOS: Inside the opening of the expanded Westhills Stadium

The grand opening of the expanded stadium in Langford is on schedule for Aug. 24

Award-nominated Snotty Nose Rez Kids headline Indigifest 2019 coming to Victoria

Scheduled for Aug. 24, the event is a showcase of Indigenous musicians from around B.C.

Cycslists were all smiles during ninth Tour de Victoria

More than 2,100 cyclists participated

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after Const. Beckett’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

‘It’s just the freedom:’ Paralyzed Broncos player pursuing life on the water

The former Humboldt Broncos goaltender, who started in the net when he was nine, was paralyzed last year

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Ferries employees participating in Denman Island cleanup for plastic-shedding ferry

The cleanup comes a few weeks after one organized by residents of the Island

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Most Read