Cadance Bell and Amanda Sato

Our hardest time was during the pandemic, when our income dried up by 90 per cent. Amanda was living off Centrelink, I was living off super. We were both living off noodles. I was freaking out. We were in debt. And we had some arguments. We were like, “Should we be breaking up?” It was the stupidest thing: you should never argue about money. That feeling of loss after arguing shocked me so greatly. It was like losing a piece of myself.

I mother her a bit. I flap and fuss, make sure her hair is straight and her shirt tucked in. If I hear the slightest squeak, I’m there with a medical kit. She does not eat vegetables: you practically have to do “Here comes the airplane”.


When you grow up stealing bras off clotheslines in a family of wild men – whose history includes theft, drunkenness and con artistry – you think you’re a freak. I was convinced I’d never love or be loved. Life was all about survival, which amazes me now.

Amanda’s autistic; I have my own neuroses. We’ve been in transition for a little under four years and are still figuring out who we are, even though we’re in our 30s. Still, she’s completely changed the way I look at not just love, but what’s possible for me as a person. She’s been the greatest surprise of my existence.

Amanda: Cady’s got one of the most incredible minds. She works so hard. I remember when I first met her, she said, “I’m gonna write a book” [The All of It: A Bogan Rhapsody, about growing up transgender in regional Australia]. I didn’t think much of it at the time: I knew she was talented, but you need drive and skill to get shit like that done. She just makes stuff happen; she’s incredible.

That can be hard, too. I’ll be left doing my own thing and sometimes it can get a bit lonely. But I’ve gotten used to finding something to do around the house while she’s up there in the study pottering away on the computer.

My father passed away in February 2016 and I came out as trans the following year. My mother didn’t take it well and I remember her saying terrible things to me. I met Cadance about five months after I’d found a place in Burwood. It was this tiny shit-hole of a room. The kitchen was in the garden, in a cubby-house, but it had a double bed and that was enough. I was just grateful to be the hell away from my mother. Cadance came down for a weekend, then two weekends and then maybe on the third, she came down and just didn’t leave.

“It’s hard to really put into words the reason I want to be with Cady. I need to be there for her because, no matter how incredible she is, she can’t do everything on her own.”

Changing my vocal pitch wasn’t something I was considering super-urgently, but I was interested in it. I figured, “Well, if she’s getting it done, I might as well get it done at the same time.” After weeks of not being allowed to speak, one night Cady set us up on the couch and said, “Let’s watch some videos by [Australian trans comedian] Jordan Raskopoulos.” We watched a few and then, suddenly, one took a left turn into a marriage proposal. Cady had set it all up with Jordan. I went “Whaaaah!”

I was nervous because we’d only been together a year and I’d had a previous engagement that hadn’t worked out, but I knew I really did love Cadance and wanted to be with her. I said yes. It was the first word I said after a month of not talking.


These days, our adventures are quite big: going to book signings and writers’ festivals. We’re at a juncture where the culture war over trans people is coming to a head. It’s important to be able to debunk a lot of the bullshit, and Cady is very much a straight shooter. She does not bullshit.

It’s hard to really put into words the reason I want to be with Cady. I need to be there for her because, no matter how incredible she is, she can’t do everything on her own. I think I bring stability to the relationship. Being with her has been the most incredible thing in my life.

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