Sandra Pankhurst runs what we would call a crime scene clean-up business, and she would normally go out on the jobs with her staff. Lately, as she approaches her sixties, she has had to forgo that because her early work years of not wearing the correct lung protection have left her with COPD.  She runs a large and successful business in Melbourne that deals with, crime, hoarders, suicides, and the mentally ill. Her goal is to help restore a normal setting so people can resume life.

As Sandra tells her story we learn she was adopted as a child, but when the family who adopted her has their second boy, she was told she was no longer wanted and was exiled to live in an out building with no bathroom facilities. Her health suffered, she was malnourished and had sores. She was born a male, and only after marrying and fathering two children did she discover she couldn’t stand living as she was. She left, the grounds for her divorce were that she was gay. She was not allowed to see her children again.

After leaving, she spent some time being a prostitute and eventually realized she wanted to live as a woman. After some time and effort, she arrived at her current business.  She didn’t think that she needed or wanted family, but eventually did look for her birth mother. As she health declined, she started to speak to groups about the struggles of her life, she has garnered much admiration and fame. 

Her story is an inspiring one, and makes for a great movie going experience. She’s the subject of a book called The Trauma Cleaner.

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