WHEN Emma came out as transgender in 2005, it cost her everything.

At the time she was married with two children, and had a top-class engineering job a factory in North East Scotland. She was working in the oil industry, at the “top of her game”.

But when she told her wife that she was no longer a man, as she had been for the last 40 years, everything changed.

“My wife at that time wasn’t able or willing to accept my transition,” says Emma, now 54.

“It’s not so much that she wasn’t able to accept it - her attitude towards it became quite bitter and poisonous.”

Her wife stopped Emma from speaking to her children, and told her that her son would only know about her transition after he became an adult. All three then emigrated to Australia.

“When I knew they were going to Australia, I tried to arrange some sort of meeting with them, but that never happened,” Emma says.

“I just decided I couldn’t cope with life without having my kids in it.”

With her old life in tatters, Emma tried to kill herself.

The next few years became a spiral of depression and suicidal thoughts. She lost her job, found herself no longer able to pay her mortgage, and became homeless.

Despite her experience in the oil industry, she couldn’t find another job in engineering because of discrimination against her new identity.

“I initially tried to stay in engineering and I was asked questions like: where was I in this journey? How much time would I need off?”, she says.

“It just feels like you get asked questions that no one else gets asked.

“It should be about whether you can do the job or not, not what your body looks like or what it used to look like. People just wouldn’t even look at me.”

In total, Emma attempted suicide four times. She was eventually admitted to hospital to be treated for her severe mental health conditions, which she says were caused by being rejected by society.

“It’s about finding your place in the world, and feeling like you fit in in the world and are accepted,” she says.

“If you feel like you belong and are accepted then everything becomes easier. Whereas if every day is a fight, that’s where you get to the point when you’re like: why am I doing this? Why do I have to keep fighting?”

Emma’s case isn’t unusual. A new study published by equality charity Stonewall this week shows that more than half of Scottish trans people have considered suicide, and more than seven in 10 have experienced depression.

One of the report’s key findings was that trans people suffer discrimination while being treated by the health service designed to help them when they need it most.

Working part time for an LGBT charity in Glasgow, Emma helps other people dealing with the issues she faced after coming out.

She says she is accepted there, in the way that she never was in the factories where she used to work.

Nonetheless, increased focus on trans people in the media has meant that 2018 has been one of the worst years for trans people in recent history.

“That itself has led to a detriment to trans people’s health,” says Emma, who lives in Lanarkshire.

“Because every day you’re putting on the TV or you’re scrolling down your Facebook or whatever, and you’re just seeing stories where people just don’t get you. They’re accusing you of being a threat to women or a threat to society.

“How can you feel good about yourself when you just see negative images every day?

“The biggest part for me has been trying to make small changes and stop people going through what I’ve been through,” she says.

“It might not be easy and it might be absolutely horrendous at times. But I’m proof that you can get through it.”