Miss Katherine Wolfgramme FRSA receives a strong result for the Australian Trans Community
A great outcome has been achieved for the Transgender Community and its Allies earlier this year, settling a complaint against The Australian with the Anti-Discrimination Board. The basis of the complaint was that an article published under The Australian’s ‘Gender Issues’ column incited serious contempt for transgender people.
Miss Katherine Wolfgramme FRSA, award winning trans advocate and gender diversity consultant, believes strongly in educating the wider community on the issues transgender people face and raising awareness of the distress such publications cause.
As Miss Wolfgramme recalled:
“I transitioned over thirty years ago when there were no rights for my community. I and other trans advocates strive to help pave the way for future generations to be happy without persecution – as my trans elders and trans ancestors strove to pave the way for us now.
None of these things can be achieved without stronger allies, in the legal and political and corporate arena who stand in front of us when we cannot speak, stand beside us when we cannot be brave and stand behind us to give us a platform so our voices can be heard; and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for how far we have come and continue to go.”
Following conciliation, The Australian agreed to both amend the headline of the article and publish an Editor’s note to the online article. This is a strong result for the transgender community. It not only provides necessary context to the article’s commentary, but importantly acknowledges the harm the transgender community and its Allies consider the article caused.
The outcome of the complaint provides a clear reminder that words and the context in which they are used matters. The significant impact felt by the transgender community and their experience of minority stress cannot be overstated.
Miss Wolfgramme would like to thank The Australian for:
“acknowledging the community stress and distress their articles may have caused and their grace in deciding to publicly acknowledge that and take action to help change the narrative.
Slowly, slowly with each generation we are all learning to accept each other’s differences more kindly and it is my hope that one day all media outlets will learn to be more respectful and kind towards people of all genders and all diversities.”
The Editor’s note is published as follows:
“The original version of this article carried the headline “Health chiefs can’t ignore ‘global epidemic’ of transgender teens”, but following concerns raised by Miss Katherine Wolfgramme on behalf of the transgender community and its Allies, who considered the article could cause harm to the transgender community, The Australian has chosen to amend the headline to read, “Health chiefs can’t ignore ‘global epidemic’ of transgender teens, inquiry told” to clarify the headline was reporting on submissions to a Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry.”
Clyde & Co is proud to support the LGBT Community through our Pryde network (also referred to as ‘Pryde & Co’) and wish to further the important goal of educating the larger community about the issues that LGBTIQ+ people face.
I have been officially awarded a Fellowship at The RSA – The Royal Society of Arts Manufactures & Commerce, the Fellowship is a global network of change-makers who have created positive impacts for their communities. I will now have access to financial and social support for possible future community endeavors for the betterment of my community particularly in education and employment.
It is an honor and a privilege to be entrusted with this award which is in recognition of my trans advocacy, trans education and trans awareness training programs.
In 2019 I was invited by a young film maker still at university to feature in her short film on feminist intersectionality, not out of feminism but because of the earnest good intention of the film maker did I agree to the project, I was already heavily laden with speaking engagements, social events, community based volunteer work and board meetings with various boards and committees I belonged to, so even though I felt reluctant, saying no would have made me feel like I had killed Bambi.
Filming with the girls was a treat for us all as The Pullman Hyde Park generously lent me a suite for my filming location and I was also dressed by Camilla for the occasion.
At Intersections has been shown at short film festivals around the world and has garnered nominations and awards for Fern Mei Sim, I hope you enjoy this delightful short film documenting the diversity of LGBT Feminist Intersectionality.
I also wish Fern Mei Sim a fruitful and successful career in Filmmaking as she goes forth into the film industry.
Even though I have stepped down as Board Member and Public Officer of the Wear It Purple Board, I am still a part of the Wear It Purple Family, I had a really beautiful experience today, and I feel very blessed for it.
I participated in a short film about inter-generations, my portion was a conversation with a young man called Billee who transitioned a year ago..I transitioned 10 years before he was born, and through gentle conversation we learned so much about each other.
I often worry about the future of the Trans Community because of a very angry and vocal and dominant Trotsky inspired queer identifying minority, who I even question are actually transgender.
Transgender people according to the World Health Organisation do not have mental health illness, but the madness and insanity this vocal minority is trying to indoctrinate as Trans has connotations of Dissociative Personality Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) – I also believe this vocal minority are trying to use the Transgender platform for their own agenda, which is embedded in an extreme left political ideology that is more queer theory, and this is definitely not Trans.
But meeting Billee and chatting with him reminded me of my duty to protect trans youth and trans children because true transgender people are peaceful and beautiful souls, and once transitioned are at peace.
I looked into Billee’s beautiful young face, and I saw peace and love and a beautiful spirit.
If the Transgender Community is led by good people like Billee in the future, then the future of the Transgender Community will be ok.
The film is a collaboration by Facebook, Instagram, Junkee Media and Wear It Purple.
“Stand Up, Stand Out” will be released next week for Wear It Purple Day.
Anexcerpt of my memoirs which I am currently writing.
Before my transition, in the depths of my greatest misery, in the darkness where there is no light, no hope of future, no escape, only defeat and distress – I dreamed a dream.
“I am an adult and I am in a
bedroom with a man, we are getting ready for a party, we can hear our guests
downstairs socialising and enjoying the night. I look at the bedroom door just
past the modern four poster timber bed and I say to the man “we had better go
down stairs, they are waiting for us, please put my necklace on for me”, he
gently places the necklace around my neck. “Thank you”, I turn to leave the
room and the man stops me, and says “Wait, look in the mirror, you are so
beautiful”, I turn to look in the mirror, and there I am, a woman, not just a
woman but a beautiful woman wearing a most beautiful necklace that surrounded
me in the most beautiful iridescent light I had ever seen”
My eyes opened, I am filled with peace, I am filled with strength. I have seen myself. I have seen my future. I will be fine.
It really is an honour to be nominated for any award, especially one so prestigious as the Australian LGBTI Awards, I was already so happy with that – imagine my shock when my name was called as the winner of Inspirational Role Model of the Year, and just to add the cherry to my sundae, Wear It Purple won best Community Initiative.
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and congratulate my fellow Wear It Purple Board Directors – President Ross Wetherbee, Vice President Marc Field, Treasurer Alex Stefan, Secretary Gemma Allen, Brock Galway, Robbie Robertson, Pete Foley and Brenna Harding.
Wear It Purple is driven by our youth, I would like to also acknowledge the hard work of our Youth Action Council and Executive Committee who have worked tirelessly through the year to empower and bring hope to rainbow youth across Australia, we dedicate this award to you.
I would like to also acknowledge past president Matt Janssen for his tireless efforts last year.
It is very important to also thank our former Wear It Purple Patrons who paved the way and opened doors for our organisation Dr Kerryn Phelps and her wife Jackie Stricker Phelps.
It was really wonderful to see other strong trans people win awards in other categories including Mama Alto for Best Artist, Jordan Raskapoulos for Local Hero and Georgie Stone for Hero, it was a great day for trans visibility, and high time that gender diverse people be finally acknowledged for their contributions to our wonderful LGBTI Community.
I have always been fascinated by my own reflection, I do not believe it is because I am vain, I believe it is because I transitioned into a woman and during that journey I struggled so hard, and I fought so hard to achieve my goal that I celebrate that now by cataloguing my evolution from the very beginning going now into aging.
You could say my Gender Dysphoria has become Gender Euphoria!
Many artists have tried to capture a part of me over the years, which has always thrilled and flattered me.
I wanted to share some portraits of me from over the years in different mediums and styles, there are more I may share at a later date.
I enjoy the process of sitting for a portrait, and I find what other people see in me so different to what I see in myself – and that can be very interesting.
Here are a few portraits by artists over the decades.
Yiorgos Zefirou and I collaborated on a series of photgraphic portraits in the Grotesque Style in 2018, I enjoyed the process immensely.
*Trigger Warning* In advance I would like to apologise to any transpeople who are triggered by the word "tranny", I have had to use this word to make my case very clear and I would like to warn anyone that will be affected to not read the contents of this article.
This will be the very first and last Opinion Piece I will publicly write about the problem with the word “Tranny“.
On Friday I was sent a legal letter from a property lawyer acting as a defamation lawyer on behalf of his friend – a certain drag queen by the name of Penny Tration, aka flight attendant Daniel Floyd, the owner of a business formerly known as Tranny Bingo.
The letter extolled a list of complaints the (misled but well intentioned) lawyer told me my actions to expose the word “tranny’ as an insulting and debasing word to transwomen had failed and the legal action I took (sending of legal letters to cease and desist using the word “Tranny”) wasn’t a legal action, “Tranny” was not insulting, also the former Human Rights Commissioner told Daniel he could legally use the word. I legally didn’t have a leg to stand on. The anti discrimination law didn’t protect me. The anti vilification laws didn’t protect me etc. And to remove the Facebook post shaming Mr Floyd.
This letter was in retaliation to my exposing Mr Daniel Floyd publicly on Facebook for his decision to degrade my person by calling me a man and making fun of my proud pacific island lineage on social media while being heavily intoxicated.
My interpretation of the question the legal letter posed to me was why should I be so angry? Who do I think I am? How dare I shame someone who disrespects and makes fun of me, a transgender woman on a public forum by shaming him in return? And why should I a transgender woman be surprised that he would disrespect me by calling me a man after running “Tranny Bingo” for 17 years and everything else he caused to debase and dehumanise the trans population? He who claims to “respect trans people”.
Of all his many years of cyber bullying others he has never been so insulted in all his life, the irony was not lost to me.
I fired a very rude letter back telling the lawyer that all I wanted was an apology. Daniel’s (property) lawyer (friend acting as a “defamation lawyer”) told me he advised his client that he could not apologise because that would be admitting guilt – he cannot apologise for calling me a man and making fun of my proud Fijian heritage because that would be an admission of his guilt. Even though he did it, and I have witnesses to prove it, interesting. And very bad advice.
The biased and ill informed lawyer also tried to point out that our disagreements were dividing the community and I was being selfish. And to stop it. I mean how dare I demand to be respected. How dare I show other trans people how to demand respect. How dare I upset the apple-cart by demanding equality?
It all goes back to that word “Tranny”, so I am going to spend the rest of this post explaining why the word “Tranny” is so incredibly insulting to most transwomen in Australia and abroad.
Unfortunately the general public is often confused between transpeople and drag queens, some people cannot see any difference at all, and here lies the problem.
Transgender/Transsexual: Someone who identifies and has transitioned physically to the gender which is opposite to their physical gender at birth. Trans people most often permanently live as the gender they identify with. Some transwomen do drag shows for artistic purposes, but generally they identify as showgirls, not drag queens. The most famous Australian trans showgirl is Carlotta.
Drag Queen: A man who dresses as a woman for entertainment purposes aka female impersonator, drag artist, theatrical or cabaret performer. Drag queens live and identify as men when not in drag. Drag is a traditional art form associated with gay culture globally. The most famous Australian drag queen is Courtney Act.
Female Impersonator: An actor who is male who takes on a female character for artistic purposes. Australia’s most famous female impersonator is Barry Humphreys and his alter-ego Dame Edna Everage. Some drag queens identify as female impersonators but not all.
Transvestite: a person, typically a man, who derives sexual pleasure from dressing in clothes primarily associated with the opposite sex. Often referred to as a kinky pleasure rather than an identity or art form. The best known transvestite would be Dr Frank N Furter from the musical The RockyHorror Show. It is very rare for a drag queen or female impersonator to also be a transvestite.
The Trans Umbrella: Since the amalgamation of T with LGB, Trans has come to represent far more than just binary trans-men and trans-women which was historically the case. Trans now includes non-binary (people who do not identify as either gender) and a very small percent of the transgender population are gender fluid and gender queer (people who identify as every gender and enjoy and vocally celebrate confrontational labels such as tranny as a part of their identity). The best known gender queer person in Australia is Norrie. Some drag queens identify themselves under the trans umbrella and occasionally eventually transition. It is mainly young transwomen and many transmen who find the term tranny offensive, because 1) Young trans-women are exposed daily to the slur as a form of abuse, and 2) Many trans-men remember the misogyny they experienced before transition so understand the connotations of the situation.
Origin of the word Tranny
The origin of the word Tranny is very simple, Transsexual was way too long to say in casual conversation so we abbreviated the word so it was quick and easy, it was never a word we would use outside of the trans community but it was a word we could use to identify each other in a most casual but non offensive way. Nobody outside the trans community used the word twenty years ago. Tranny was never short for transvestite.
The misappropriation of the word “Tranny” was not sudden, it was eventual. Drag queens found it hilarious and fun to say, in fact around 1999 I remember they started calling each other trannies in nightclubs and bars in Sydney, they found it extremely naughty, funny and catchy.
Some entrepreneurial drag queens, who were female impersonators or drag artists – but definitely not trans, decided it would be fantastic marketing for their drag bingo, two-up, and other events designed not for the lgbt community but the general public, after all, Tranny was so taboo and naughty. They were right, the branding did catch on. Their events gave the general public permission to not only use the word but also make fun of the drag queens on stage who were making fun of themselves – as trannies, not drag queens. For 17 years.
Permission for the general public to use the word was not given from the trans community, it came from the drag community.
Two decades on and Tranny is universally considered to be a word which is a derogatory slang towards Transgender Women in most English language dictionaries.
The reason it is considered a derogatory slang now is simple, non trans people will use the word to debase a transgender woman if they are angry with her or they don’t like her, it is also used during physical and verbal abuse as if to justify their hatred and violence towards her. It is often the last word a victim hears before she regains her consciousness in hospital.
The word Tranny is now used as a weapon of hate towards transgender women.
Language is important,and language can hurt, it has been used as a weapon to oppress others since the dawn of time.
Time and again trans people and trans organisations came forward to let Daniel know this was offensive to trans people, in public they would say “we are open to discussion” in private those requests fell on deaf ears.
Daniel and Tranny Bingo first gained media attention in 2014 because Indiana Edwards, a trans activist decided to take them on, she organised a picket protest and challenged them on TV and in the media – Even then, Daniel (dressed as his sparkly and fun alter ego Penny) said “we are happy todiscuss this”. Unsurprisingly when the cameras were off nothing happened.
The media were very unkind toward Indiana, who was just trying to do the right thing.
One Tranny Bingo hostess wrote to me last November “I hated standing up for Tranny Bingo whenever a trans person would come up and complain to me, because I hated having to stand behind something I didn’t support, and the thing is I know you’re fine using the word if its used amongst sisters, but using it the way Penny was it was not ok because non sisters were using it”
A former bingo hostess privately wrote in an email ” I have not been a part of those events for over 12 months and a lot of soul searching in that time has led me to the truth that if the word hurts so many it is not my right to use that word – its not ok”
Why I Took Legal Action Against Friends.
I entered Sydney’s drag community in 1995, I was a showgirl and did drag shows in clubs on Oxford Street, I have always loved and had the greatest respect for the drag community because it is somewhere I have always belonged and been welcomed. Most trans showgirls within the drag community don’t find the word Tranny offensive, even I didn’t until very recently.
In 2017 a young transwoman and member of the social group I was Admin for posted her outrage about a large sign saying “Tranny Bingo” outside a hotel in Balmain. She said she went in and asked to speak to the manager, she told the manager that the word Tranny was offensive, he replied it was ok because the drag queens hosting the event were “trannies”, she said no they are not, and she was trans and she was offended – to which the manager curtly said “The sign is staying up”.
Complaints continued to be pathologically ignored and the word that is so expressly insulting to many was displayed in public for all to see on a busy road. This may not seem outrageous to non trans people, but to transpeople who are regularly maligned and oppressed verbally by the word, this triggered not only bad memories but also sent a sense of dread and helpless outrage through a community who were already marginalized and defenceless. It was insensitive and insulting to people who had already made their feelings very clear and had been pathologically ignored. This sign stood for oppression to many transpeople.
A new admin to the page of the group I adminned also posted something about it on our public page, he cited his outrage and his partner’s rage who also confronted the manager, I told him he couldn’t do that on the page because as admin we had to remain neutral, he would not back down so I deleted his post. I was very uncomfortable being placed in that position without my consent, tranny was never a word I personally had a problem with. That is until just before this incident when I was verbally attacked on Oxford St by a group of men hurling a string of abuses at me which included “f___ing filthy tranny, nothing but a stupid tranny, disgusting tranny you should be ashamed of yourself”. Those thugs left me quite unsettled, never before had I heard the word “Tranny” being used with such hatred and violent fury.
Afterwards one of the senior hosts of Tranny Bingo and former friend privately messaged me and personally thanked me for defending them, I said it was something that needs to be discussed to which she replied “we are always open to discussion”.
I realised then, that I had heard this dialogue four years ago on television, in newspapers and on social media – they definitely were not open to discussion, otherwise the past complainants would have been heard.
It was the sheer arrogance of a non trans person telling transpeople where, when and if they would decide they were going to continue insulting them or not that I found most astounding.
The problem was none of the complainants were known to the LGBT Community so their complaints could quickly be swept under a carpet or they could just be called trouble makers and their complaints were soon forgotten. Change could only happen if someone with a voice from within our community came forward.
So, I decided to do something about it.
On my behalf, pro bono, three lawyers from Allens Linklaters, a major commercial law firm sent legal letters to all businesses advertising and holding Tranny Bingo on their premises and the owner of Tranny Bingo to cease and desist using the word because it is offensive and hurtful.
I was not going to nicely ask a non trans person to stop using the word Tranny, because the establishments and Daniel Floyd had been asked very nicely for years to no avail. The other reason I did not ask was because the word did not belong to the drag community, it belonged to the trans population – because they were the tran(nie)s.
Some older transwomen are proud to call themselves a tranny, they fought very hard to exist in a time when they were not allowed to, and all power to them, but they generally wont accept strangers calling them that. I too am a stakeholder of the word as are all other transpeople, I don’t have issue with transwomen wanting to take ownership of the word, if it empowers them then fantastic. But it doesn’t empower all transpeople, only a few, and to my way of thinking , you cannot own a word until it is taken possession of it from those who had hijacked it.
When I talk about ownership of a word think about the “N” word. Some Afro Americans have decided to call each other “N”s – but they wont hear of anyone else using the word.
There is also a parallel to “blackface’, white people covered in black boot polish and dressing up as afro Americans and making fun of themselves – they are not making fun of white people, they are making fun of black people. So too was tranny bingo, they were men DRessed As Girls calling themselves Trannies and making fun of themselves.
What I was demanding was very simple. I was demanding respect, which is the equality everyone is spouting about.
Again Daniel used the opportunity to promote his events claiming he was a victim and 17 years of tradition was at stake and the Aussie Battler was under threat, lapping up the media attention with newspaper, online magazine and radio interviews. Attempting to confuse the public by claiming to be a transvestite. Even one of the hotels stated they would “fight on”.
A former Human Rights Commissioner told him he could legally use the word, that there was no law stopping him from holding the event, this is quite different to the Human Rights Commissioner telling him it wasn’t insulting or hurtful, or morally wrong.
There was definitely a furore on social media among our friends who didn’t, and shouldn’t have to take sides.
I had never been publicly called a troll, a bitch or a trouble maker before. I was called militant,a word Nazi and many other things from a piranha to a worm.
Quite Ironic considering for almost thirty years prior to this I was considered by the very same people to be kind, beautiful, understanding, genuinely nice and always coming from a good place.
By some I was misogynised, by others demonised but most importantly by most I was sympathised with – to them what I was saying made perfect sense.
The final Outcome
Whilst dealing with the stress of social media attacks and so many friends being furious with me for upsetting the apple cart, I remained strong and stood by my actions.
Gradually all the main organisations within the LGBT Community acknowledged that “Tranny” was indeed derogatory slang used to debase transwomen.
Everyone now knows this word is offensive, and when they use it they do so with the full knowledge that it is hurtful.
There are no longer any businesses in any state in Australia hosting events using the word “Tranny”.
The trash media persists in using the derogatory slang in their headlines and that is to sell more papers at the cost of persistently dehumanising women within the trans community. But one day very soon they too will have to stop. It is such a shame that it will be under force and not by their own volition.
Language changes, some words that were once acceptable in polite society are now considered awful and inconceivable to most young people that these words could ever have been found to be acceptable in the first place. That is evolution.
I gave a voice to those people within the trans community who did not have the courage or aptitude or public profile to stand up for themselves, I bought this issue to everyone’s attention which was previously swept under the carpet for nearly two decades.
That’s why I sleep well at night, because I did the right thing.
Daniel at the end of the day also did the right thing, he changed the name of his bingo event to Gender Bender Bingo.
I have become everything I wished I could be when I was a young boy, that’s quite an amazing thought. That poor unhappy unhappy child with gender dysphoria has became one of the happiest women in the world.
Gender dysphoria became gender euphoria.
And when I look back on that photo and remember how so deeply unhappy I was, I am filled with such love for him, and I wish with all of my heart I could reach back and show him everything will be ok, I cry for that boy because I cannot comfort him or protect him from the horrors ahead. I cry with happiness as I write this because we cannot change our past, but I stand before you as living testament that I was able to change my future.
Who I am now, has finally embraced who I was – because if he never wished me into existence, I would not be here today.
I stand by what I said, though the policy is flawed it is also a huge step forward for the Catholic Church to acknowledge gender dysphoria and also acknowledge the need to protect and respect children with gender dysphoria. This is a brave move for such a conservative church system and I commend the Arch Diocese of Sydney for supporting this new policy especially in these most troubled times when dirty politics is once again using transgender people to scare voters.
Though behind a paywall, the whole article can be found online here.
I am appearing in a feature ABC documentary about a controversial public figure, at the moment I am unable to speak about the subject because the film is in it’s production phase, but the filming took place last week at St Andrew’s College at Sydney University.
I am very grateful to be able to contribute to this documentary and to be given a voice on the subject of transphobia and the negative consequences of religious beliefs when misused by public figures.
There is a Vogue Ballroom Scene in Australia who’s roots come from The USA, it is difficult for me to explain so I will quote directly from Wikipedia
“Ball culture, drag ball culture, the house-ballroom community, the ballroom scene or ballroom culture and similar terms describe a young African-American and Latino underground LGBTQ+ subculture that originated in New York City. Beginning in the late 19th century, members of the underground LGBTQ+ community in large cities began to organize their own cross-dressing masquerade balls, both in opposition to laws that banned individuals from wearing clothes associated with the opposite gender and earlier cross-dressing balls that, while racially integrated for the participants, were usually led and judged by white people.Attendees dance, vogue, walk, pose, perform, lip-sync, and model in numerous drag and performance competition categories for trophies and prizes. Many participants in ball culture also belong to groups known as “houses”, where chosen families of friends live in households together, forming relationships and communities similar to their families of origin from which they may be estranged”
The Overall Mother and founder of Vogue Ballroom in Australia is Bhenji Ra and Bhenji is also Overall Mother of House of Slè.
The founders or leader of each House is called Mother, their second is called God Mother and all the members of the House are called her Children and her Family.
I am not an expert in Drag Ball Culture or the world of Voguing.
But I happened to meet the curator of the pinnacle event of the House Ballroom Community in Australia – The Sissy Ball, her name is Kilia Pahulu also Godmother of The House of Slé, we talked about The Sissy Ball, and I was saying to her that I had done just about everything there was to do and I was looking for a new adventure and she said simply “Why don’t you open a House?”, taken aback I was lost for words but she went on “You have so many children” and like a flash of light an idea was planted.
I was unsure about it, so I asked a young boy whom I feel very maternal towards what he thought and he started crying, telling me it would mean so much to him if I opened a house, I asked another young person, a non binary friend who said with love and emotion that they would be honoured to join my house. This made realise, though I did not quite understand what a House entailed, it was important to the children of my community, and I am after all a community mother, so establish a House I shall!
So as soon as I got home at 3am I registered The House of Darling.
Darling is a gorgeous word, I call all my loved ones darling and everyone calls me darling too, not just that, the heart of Gay Sydney is Darlinghurst and my House’s residence is Universal Hotel on Oxford St in Darlinghurst. So I will be Mother Darling, and all the members of my House will be my Darlings! We call people we like and love darling and Darling is a name that will live on even if I decided to retire or expire..
The chosen family is formed with love
I love my chosen family, my gay family, we are not related by blood but feelings of love unite us and connect us, so I guess bringing everyone under my House is just officiating what we feel already. Not everyone will compete, a select few will represent our house in competitions while many of us will work in the background to guide and protect and establish The House of Darling’s name and good reputation for longevity.
Community Development is one of my many interests, so for myself it makes perfect sense to me to gather a group of the loved ones and establish a House, because in essence I’m creating a community and I will work towards strengthening other House communities through my House.
The House of Darling will be unique because it will be the very first Inner City House, certainly the very first Eastern Suburbs House and the first Sydney Structured House. It will be unique in that a prerequisite of membership is voluntary community service within LGBT Community several times a year and also a responsibility to help open doors for the other Houses…anyway I digress..
The following week, I contacted Kilia to express my interest, and to also acknowledge I know nothing and that I wanted to establish my house in a respectful way so as not to offend any other Houses in Australia or their Mothers, and Lia dropped the BOMB -to legitimise my House respectfully I would need to present myself to all the other Houses and their Mothers at the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras 2022 Sissy Ball at the Sydney Town Hall in one week!
The problem with me and things that I believe are important is that I will do whatever it takes especially if it is within my power to do it to get something done, regardless of consequence.
So even though I knew nothing about voguing, thenHouse Ballroom Scene or their community, I prepared myself for my presentation to the other Houses. I am a retired showgirl, drag shows were one of the very few employment options open to transgender women once upon a time so at least I was not a virgin to the stage but I was still incredibly nervous about my presentation.
My wardrobe was thankfully not an issue, I am dressed by Camilla for all special events, a beautiful not yet released kaftan was selected for me to wear wear already, I just needed to go a little bit extra, thankfully Monique Kelly a legend of Les Girls the most famous Drag Show in Australian History, of which I am an alumni, lent me the most breathtaking black lace and bead encrusted cape I had ever seen and I wore one of my own floral crown creations from my label Katherine Wolfgramme Handmade, I must say, I looked spectacular – but I was still nervous and I couldn’t back down because I had to establish my House for my Chosen Family.
It took courage for me to go into a world unfamiliar to me, but life is live by the brave, and by golly gosh, I have always had guts.
I was presented at the very opening of the Sissy Bally, my presentation to the other Houses was during the LSS aka Legend Statement Stars and it was the perfect way to be introduced to all the other Houses in Australia. The reason why I am considered a legend within the ballroom culture is because I’m a transgender woman of colour who first performed on stage over thirty years ago and also am considered one the longest reigning queen of colour anywhere in Australia.. I never thought that, that’s how I’m perceived among the queens of colour within the Australian LGBT Community. Here is a video of my entrance.
At 3.30pm on Tuesday 28th of March, 1972 I was born via caesarean at The Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva Fiji.
Today is my 50th birthday, the only thing in my life I have no control over is my age, 50 is a milestone, or perhaps it’s just another day, but for me there are tinges of sad memories of familial rejection and brothers and sisters that I never grew up with.
Sadly my mother feared transsexuality was a contagious disease, a common enough myth in the 1970s, so she sent me at a very young age to live with my Great-Grandparents. I was raised by my great-grandfather John Bloomfield Kamea, he was half Tongan and half Jewish, and my Great-Grandmother Eliza Mitchell Kamea, a half European and half Fijian Lady.
Grandpa was a former Seventh Day Adventist Pastor and Nana was a Sabbath School teacher so my upbringing was deeply religious, so on the eve of every birthday I would pray in earnest for God to turn me back into a girl, but every birthday I arose unchanged with Gender Dysphoria, by the age of sixteen I realised I would have to fix things myself, and I did when I was 18, so the past 32 years mark the anniversaries of happiness because I no longer have Gender Dysphoria – This is why I mainly celebrate my trans birthdays because September 1 marks the anniversary of my inner peace and happiness, but that is a story for another day.
So on my birthday I would like to give thanks to the beautiful people who raised me, and armed me with the strength and self-respect and good manners that I would need in the dark years ahead when I transitioned to Katherine. I will always be grateful to them.
We are the sum of our friends, I have been richly blessed by friends who are good and kind and have shown support and love – despite my many faults; on my 50th birthday I would like to give thanks for them and all the beautiful human beings who have touched and enriched my life.
On a spiritual level I have always been guided and protected by angels or ancestors, or something that I cannot properly explain. But on my 50th birthday I would like to give thanks to the Universe who have sent them to watch over me.
I am so grateful to be alive when so many other transgender people I have known over the years have died. On my 50th birthday I pay my respects to their memories and pray their anguish in life has found peace in their eternal rest.
I am so grateful to witness so much change in regards to human rights for my community in my lifetime, on my 50th birthday I give thanks to the country that I live in and the good people alive and no longer alive who have contributed to our equal rights.
I belong to the first era of transgender people in history who are able through science change our bodies to become who we feel inside. On my 50th birthday I pay my respects and give thanks to my trans ancestors who have come before me who have lived and died and have paved a way for our existence to be easier.
To my community, on my 50th birthday I give thanks for giving me a place to feel safe and home, thank you for giving me a sense of identity and belonging.
Finally to myself, on my 50th birthday I would like to give thanks to myself that I had the inner strength and the courage to stand by my beliefs and follow through with sheer determination to find a place where I could be happiest as Katherine, I am grateful to myself for the courage and strength and love and kindness it took to survive in a world that was not always loving or kind. I give thanks my strength has allowed me to commit so many memories of past horrors and so much violence both lateral and environmental behind me without making me bitter or angry.
On my 50th birthday I promise to be more forgiving towards those who have hurt me, and be more respectful towards things I cannot comprehend, and I promise to never change the essence of who I am no matter what the future has in store for me.
Hear my prayers, wish me well I am 50 years old today.
I had a wonderful meeting today with Greg Fisher, CEO of Qtopia to discuss exciting plans for Sydney’s Gay Musem, I am very excited and happy about working with Greg and Qtopia going forward into he future.
If you would like to support Sydney’s first permanent LGBTQI Museum please follow this link to the Qtopia Sydney Website
The International Womens Day theme this year is Break the Bias.
I was honoured to be asked to be the guest speaker for international beauty giant Sephora at their Australia and New Zealand Headquarters in Martin Place in Sydney’s CBD for International Women’s Day aka IWD.
I wanted to put pen to paper about my thoughts about trans inclusion on IWD because life is a collection of thoughts and experiences, and this is an experience that I shall look back on with love.
Sephora is one of the largest beauty retailers on Earth, with 2,600 stores and an annual revenue of $US 10 billion, it is a global leader in not just beauty but also business.
Sephora consciously strives to create greater inclusion for all diversity within their company by actively educating their staff through education with diversity events during the year.
When my agent at Saxton called me to ask if I was available to speak at Sephora I immediately said yes, not because they were huge but because I remember seeing their store for the first time when I lived in Paris in 2001.
I remember I was exploring the arcade across the road from my apartment on the Rue de Rivoli beneath the Louvre called the Carousel de Louvre (also a Metro Station) when I was struck by the word Sephora which sounded so beautiful to me, being trans I got to choose my own name which I love but when I saw the name SEPHORA in lights there in Paris, I had a pang of regret that Sephora was not my name…
I had never heard of the store Sephora but one thing I did notice was it was extremely busy and obviously popular with young Parisian women. It was also in a very good position at one of the exits of the Musée de Louvre.
Sephora is one of those pretty biblical names that when spoken sounds wistful and dreamlike, I was in a cafe only the other day discussing the origin of name when I said “It’s such a pretty name, I expect it was a biblical woman standing at a well or some such”. As soon as I returned home I had a google, and wouldn’t you know it, she was the woman at the well that gave the exhausted Moses water whom he later married in the Book of Exodus!
I am always asked to speak on transgender and LGBTQI dates -Mardi Gras, IDAHOBIT, Trans Awareness Week, Trans Visibility Day, Trans Day of Remembrance, Wear It Purple Day etc. But this must be the very first day I was invited to speak on a Women’s day. This alone was an act of inclusion and breaking the bias on Sephora’s behalf, to be included as woman to speak on a woman’s day.
IWD is a lovely day in corporate Sydney, Ladies’ afternoon teas take place across the city and women come together in solidarity and sisterhood to empower each other and celebrate sisterhood and discuss the needs of women in the workplace and in the home. It is a day for empowerment and solidarity.
Sephora chose IWD as a day to help their staff understand what it is to be transgender a little more, and it was my pleasure to help facilitate that.
I am a seasoned speaker, my client list is very impressive, my very first client was Bloomberg, my second was Royal Bank of Canada and then Bank of America, so I have basically stayed in the very top tier of big business since I first began my consultancy four years ago, but Sephora is my very first Beauty Industry brand – and what a wonderful way to start!
I was telling a shoe designer friend of mine I was speaking at Sephora and for the very first time she was impressed, none of my other speaking events impressed her so I found her reaction interesting. I am dressed by Camilla for special events and when I told the Head of HR I was speaking at Sephora for IWD she was also impressed, I was beginning to understand Sephora must be a heavy hitter in the beauty and design industry. So I suddenly felt very honoured Sephora had contacted my agent to book me for their IWD event, I was honoured they had even heard of me.
The event was to take place both in person and virtually to all stores and offices across Australia and New Zealand. It was very well organised and coordinated from the NZ Head Quarters. I felt very much at ease to be able to present to Sephora ANZ in a few weeks.
I was disarmed immediately when I was greeted at the Martin Place building entrance by the Manager of Australia and New Zealand, Mark O’Keefe. Who’s down to earth approach and sense of kindness made me feel instantly relaxed and welcomed immediately, Mark’s relaxed English hospitality was much appreciated.
Rashmi Patel from their New Zealand Headquarters managed the tech aspect with strategic precision allowing me to tell my personal story with ease and without hindrance of distractions. I have been delivering my trans awareness programmes via Zoom for the last two years due to COVID-19 so there was apprehension on my part to deliver a presentation physically again, but I am very grateful to move from the virtual space to the physical space with such ease with all thanks to the staff at Sephora ANZ.
My mantra is to help create understanding for my community and acceptance that we are human and our existence is valid. My way of doing this is to tell my personal story from birth and recounting all the tribulations and eventual triumphs of my journey as a transgender woman, my childhood, my youth, my adulthood and finally my journey to an elder and community leader. I also refer to statistics and laws along the way.
I used to deliver training via graphs and slides, but since I changed it during COVID to a more personal journey the reviews always include “tears and laughter” “sadness and joy” “powerful” and most importantly of all “Understanding” but because my presentation has always been delivered in the virtual space I have not seen a person cry in front of me while I tell my story until International Women’s Day at Sephora. It humbled me to know that my story reaches people somewhere deeper than on a superficial level.
An afternoon tea was organised in my honour after the presentation which was such a thoughtful way to meet the Sydney Staff. I was encouraged to visit the Pitt St flagship store while I was in the Sydney CBD, so after enjoying the generous hospitality of the Sydney office I walked down to Sephora Westfield on Pitt St and was greeted by friendly staff, the store is stunning, and was beautifully decked out for Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras by their very talented Visual Merchandising Executive Jacob Aquilina who was also their beautiful model for their Sephora Mardi Gras Campaign
I went from the Sephora store to The Palace Tearoom in the Queen Victoria Building to debrief and treat myself to a lavish afternoon tea and to unpack the fabulous gift bag I was presented with at the end of my presentation, in five years all I can say is lawyers and bankers never bestow gift bags at their firms but I do hope some of the, are reading this because I suddenly think it should be customary and for very selfish reasons I think it’s a fabulous idea! I am currently enjoying a very lavish array of beauty products I expect will last at least the next two years.. how fortunate am I?
I would like to thank Sephora ANZ for giving me a platform so my voice could be heard and for making my experience wonderful and adding a wonderful memory to my history book. Thank You Again.
Katherine is a beautiful name, the Christian meaning is pure in Coptic Greek, the first Katherine mentioned in the Christian Era is Saint Katherine of Alexandria. But the history of the name is far more ancient as the pre Christian origin from which the name Katherine derives is Ekate or Hecate, and Ekate means the far reaching one, I chose my name well – but I didn’t know all that when I chose it!
I am from a part-European Fijian family, traditionally families that were mixed European and Fijian descended from wealthy European land owners and their legal noble born indigenous Fijian wives. Our history was not only passed down orally but is often written into Fijian history books. My family is historically significant. In the past our families only spoke very beautiful English, were extremely well mannered , owned or managed businesses and the land we owned were referred to as Estates, our part-European families would intermarry and our families were once considered Fiji’s Middle Class. Our families were also once referred to as Kailoma in Fiji. Kailomas tended to shun their Fijian heritage but were very proud of having European Ancestry and they tended never to learn Fijian, the women were graceful and well bred ladies and the men did well in business and intermarriage between the Kailoma families was traditional. Most of us are related by blood or marriage. Marriages between Kailoma and Indigenous Fijians was tolerated, but frowned upon unless the blood was Royal. Our families are also related by blood and marriage to the highest Chiefs (Ratu) and Kings (Tui) in Fiji including the current President’s wife and my great grand uncle the last Governor General of Fiji.
We are traditionally named after members of our family.
In the early part of the second quarter of the twentieth century my great-grand uncle Charles married a very proud Fijian lady we called Aunty Kata, and Aunty Kata found some of our Kailoma traditions racist. She refused to speak English to any of us stating she was in Fiji not England and she was proud of her country. So her children grew up bilingual and spoke Fijian to Aunty Kata and English to Uncle Charles.
Kata is short for Katarina, which is Fijian for Katherine.
I loved Aunty Kata, I would speak to her in English, and she would reply In Fijian, she knew what I said but I had no idea what she said. I found her principles both endearing and strong, because at the end of the day some of the Kailoma traditions were racist, and she was right that we were in Fiji, I also remember Aunty Kata’s house was full of love, I could feel love embrace me as I entered her front door, and at it’s centre was her. I will always be grateful to Aunty Kata because she forced me to learn some Fijian, the language of my ancestors.
When Aunty Kata came to visit us in Melbourne, on principal she would speak to me in terrible English because she was in Australia and not in Fiji. I loved her so much for that I would answer her in terrible Fijian. I guess Aunty Kata was the very first trailblazer I had ever known in my life and I admired her greatly for standing by what she believed in, and remaining a proud Fijian woman.
Since the coups in Fiji, the terms Kailoma and Part-European, Fiji-Chinese and Fiji-Indian is now considered racist, so one and all are simply called Fijian. I am glad, because looking back it probably was racist, it was implemented for British Colonial segregation for easy human stock taking and Empire building and it was perpetuated (without any bad intention) through old fashioned traditions that have no place in how we think today. These traditions are now falling by the wayside and Kailoma families now seek out our Indigenous Fijian history and ancestral indigenous connections which we now proudly pass down orally along side our European history, I believe this is a wonderful outcome. Intermarriage too has become common between the bloods – royal or not, it no longer matters.
I had been actively planning my transition since I was 14, instinctively I knew even then I would need a strong name.
There was an awful girl in high school called Catherine, I didn’t like her at all, but whenever teachers would say her name it sounded phonetically feminine and beautiful to my ears. And most important, it also sounded strong.
Ultimately I couldn’t decide between the names Virginia, Katherine and Charlotte all family names, and Aunties that I admired so I gave the list to my mother who agreed that Katherine would be the name she would choose if she had had another daughter.
I originally was going to spell my name Kathryn but one day I passed a travel agency and in a Norther Territory travel brochure advertising the town of Katherine in capital letters I knew KATHERINE was the name for me, because it looked strong and sounded feminine, just like I was going to be one day.
My name has served me very well, because just like my Aunty Kata, the strong woman I have named myself after, I too have become strong.
And through my advocacy I have lived up to my name, my intention is pure and I have become the far reaching one.
I would like to congratulate Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger for steering us through yet another uncertain year to deliver another successful Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras at the Sydney Cricket Ground, a huge thank you to all the volunteers including SG&LMG Board Directors, and staff who work quietly in the background to help this vision come to fruition and I also extend my congratulations to the Creative Director Travis Conneeley.
I hope the uncertainty that COVID wreaked havoc is now behind us and I look forward with anticipation to many Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras’ to come.
I would also like to thank Camilla Australia for dressing me over the Mardi Gras Season.
Please enjoy these images of myself enjoying the parade Mardi Gras in the Sydney Cricket Ground, attending the After a party and my journey home in the wee hours of the morning!
I am very blessed to be a part of such a fabulous community and live in a country where diversity is celebrated.
I have had many lover affairs in my lifetime, but my greatest and longest love affair has been with Camilla, it began around 2003 with a beautiful green kaftan, hand sewn and hand beaded with delicate stitches it was emerald green and I would float around in it at home when entertaining.
I rekindled my love affair about six years ago when I decided it was time to move my wardrobe from dresses to kaftans and in that time my love affair has become a passion.
I love my kaftans, and they have grown into quite a beautiful collection. You could say I’m rather potty for Camilla.
I consider Mardi Gras to be my Gay Christmas, it is a time I wear my very best and with love wish everyone in my community a Happy Mardi Gras, it is also the time the planets align and reward me for being a good girl over the last 12 months, a rather karmic affair you could say.
The planets aligned this year and gave me something so wonderful I could just pee my pants. As of yesterday I will be dressed by Camilla for events and I now have access to their very best kaftans including their highly coveted limited edition prints.
This is a dream come true.
And I’m beginning my exciting new adventure tomorrow at the Mardi Gras Brunch, an amazing kaftan was selected for me to wear which was pulled from their archive collection. The head of PR instructed “Katherine is a Queen and we must dress her in the best”. I will also be wearing something truly fabulous on Mardi Gras night, so special I decided last minute to join the parade on the 4th float before I ascend to the stand. I am still quite stunned but I am also on cloud nine and I am very grateful to Camilla Australia and the celestial Kaftan Gods and the sparkling planets that have aligned so I could have this amazing experience.
I was quoted today in the Daily Telegraph, sometimes it is important to publicly say what you think because history’s atrocities teach us bad things can happen to vulnerable people when good people quietly stand by and do nothing.
I am sincerely sorry to hear of Katherine Cummins’ passing, I consider Katherine not only my peer and elder but also my friend.
Katherine was born in Scotland in 1935, and transitioned in 1986, Katherine was an elder of all transgender women and pioneered traditions that we observe today such as the Transgender Day of Remembrance observance in Sydney on behalf of the Gender Centre beginning in 2003.
The power of the word was Katherine’s friend, she was a brilliant writer who successfully published several books, and served as the editor of Polare Magazine, a monthly trans magazine – in itself ahead of it’s time also winning the Australian Human Rights Award for Non-Fiction for her autobiography Katherine’s Diary in the early nineties
Katherine was always an outspoken activist of the Transgender Community, born of a different era, sometimes unintentionally her language clashed with the language of today, but her beautiful heart was always in the right place.
Katherine worked for The Gender Centre for almost 20 years in many roles beginning in 2001 ending in 2020.
Katherine was born in Scotland in 1935, and transitioned in 1986, winning the Australian Human Rights Award for Non-Fiction for her autobiography Katherine’s Diary in the early 1990s.
When I asked Katherine about her hopes for the future Katherine replied “I hope for the day when trans is accepted as a simple variation from the norm, to be neither condemned nor praised. I hope that research will continue into gender and sex diversity and that when truths are discovered they will be publicised, not concealed.” She also said “ I hope for the day when trans is accepted as a simple variation from the norm, to be neither condemned nor praised. I hope that research will continue into gender and sex diversity and that when truths are discovered they will be publicised, not concealed.” She also said “ Do your best to leave the world a little better than your best to leave the world a little better than you found it. Remember that you have responsibilities as well as rights and that the aim should be to centre the pendulum, not to push it far over to the other side. Remember that trans is not a closed society but a small segment of society as a whole and that we should aim to make it fit into society, not stand out from it.”
I will always remember Katherine with great respect and reverence for her wisdom and as my elder and my friend.
Here is an interview I did with Katherine Cummins for the Star Observer:
“I hope for the day when trans is accepted as a simple variation from the norm, to be neither condemned nor praised. I hope that research will continue into gender and sex diversity and that when truths are discovered they will be publicised, not concealed.” – Katherine Cummings
This year I’ve decided to be reflective a day earlier than usual, basically because I have the time to sit back and reflect on the year that was 2021.
I am 49. In numerology, astrology and science, the body experiences a seven year cycle, after the seventh year all atoms in the body are replaced and in numerology and astrology our seventh year is the culmination of the last six years and everything we plan and work towards within that seven years comes to fruition. 7 years ago I began studying to become an esteemed trans advocate which I am today – next year will be a year of new beginnings.
My poor body has gone through much change in 2021, I have sprained and fractured my ankle, had a minor heart attack, been to rehab for a past injury, and been diagnosed with Cushings and Diabetes and became morbidly obese, but in the same year all ailments have been medically seen to and I am now better. I have lost 30kg, gone from a dress size 22 to a manageable 14, dropped my sugars to a manageable level, the whites of my eyes have not looked so white in over twenty years, I am grateful to be healthier than I have ever been in many many years.
My personal journey has seen much change, making many new friends and saying a permanent farewell to several friends I thought would be with me forever, but people change and sometimes to move forward we must bid each other farewell. I have connected with some truly incredible people from the Fiji Community, my country of birth which I have always been proud to come from. I consider many of these people my family with our shared heritage and social background we have have a silent understanding of who we are and where we come from, which has helped me become more grounded in the duality of who I am, my heritage Fiji and my home Australia.
After over 35 years of estrangement I have made peace and reconciled with my Dad, much has been seen said and much need not be said. I grew up in a time where there was no technology to help parents understand what transgender was, let alone how to support them. So I will leave that subject there except I now understand family rifts not only hurt ourselves but those around us that love us including our siblings – and future generatiions, and for this reason it was time to forgive and make peace.
Covid-19, Corona, Delta and Omicron has taught me to be resilient and helped me to pivot into new interests, such as a floral crown business which doesn’t do too badly.. who would have thought I would launch a label? Certainly not me. Or that I could possibly lose weight during a lockdown by taking social walks, connecting with friends and learning more about them in 90 minutes than I had in the many years I knew them socially whilst walking my dear canine friend Aggie.
My advocacy has gone from strength to strength culminating in being awarded a Fellowship at The Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) and the new post nominals FRSA, and a win before The Anti Discrimination Board against The Australian changing the way this newspaper reports against transgender children and members of the transgender community going forward into the future. My business Katherine Wolfgramme FRSA – Trans & Gender Diversity Consultant. continues to be relevant and will hopefully flourish again once Covid is behind us.
Financially life was uncertain during 2021 but thanks to my speakers agent Saxton and my floral crown label Katherine Wolfgramme – Handmade and working for POOF DOOF, and some very discreet work as a law clerk I have been able to stay afloat.. and even buy a couple of new Camillas.. ok, I lie, I bought many including the matching capes, robes, clutches, headbands shoes and jewellery – but let’s be honest, I didn’t suffer the hardships and heartaches of transitioning in the early 1990s to end up a drab moth – to end up resembling a glittering Philippine Opera Star is a hard won privilege that I enjoy very much, rude not to..
My thirtieth anniversary of Katherine was canceled on September 1, 2020 due to Corona, so I organised a belated bash for September 1 2021, which was canceled again because of Delta. So perhaps 2025 will be the next big Birthday Bash for Katherine.. I dare not try to organise another belated 30th. All I can say wether I celebrate or not my journey as Katherine has been bloody amazing and I am so glad despite all hardships and barriers that I am truly grateful to be Katherine, my soul and my spirit are one and I am truly so happy to be me.
Fear has ruled 2021, I like everyone else was scared. Terrified of catching Covid, but I’m at peace now that it is possibly inevitable but I shall live so I look to the new year with less fear and more hope for the world and hope that we overcome this terrible plague that has held our world to ransom. If Covid has taught us one thing it has taught us to be kinder to each other. But we need to help The Third World tackle Covid or a new variant will haunt us every year.
We lost many in our community who decided they no longer wished to live and I honour all of them and I hope after living through such personal anguish they have at last found peace in their eternal sleep.
Community means a lot to me, I remain an active and proud and much loved member of the Sydney Gay Community as well as an active member of the Potts Point Community and I am very grateful for this. My role in the Sydney Gay Community becomes ever more maternal as I watch people I love grow as humans to build their own homes, families and become parents or community leaders and fabulous hosts and hostesses, I stand back silently very proud of the good humans they have become with much love in my heart.
Christmas was special this year because I got meet a nephew for the first time and also reconnect with family I haven’t seen since Covid began, reconcile with my Father and meet the beautiful in-laws. Special memories made.
To summarise my year, it has been a year of emotional and physical hardships, but it has been a year of triumph where I have overcome many obstacles including health, forgiveness, social justice and isolation.
It’s certainly been a trip but 2021, you can Fu*k Off now because even though you taught me many lessons I am very glad to see the back of you, you Vicious C*nt.
So with that, I would like to wish one and all a very Happy, Healthy and Fruitful 2022.
I am very proud to be associated with Out For Australia.
Did you know that mentoring is widely considered a critical component to career success?
Yet 63% of women reported that they have never had a formal mentor.
Not having a mentor could be the difference between what makes or breaks your career.
To discuss the importance of women mentoring, Out For Australia (OFA) is hosting a free online event for women and non-binary folk on the 14th of September at 6:30pm.
• Hear from our amazing panel of speakers about their experiences with mentoring.
• Uncover what mentoring can do for your career.
• Understand what stops LBTQIA+ folk from engaging in mentoring and why we need more of us to be involved.
• Be inspired to find your next great mentor.
• Be inspired to get involved as a mentor.
At OFA we aim to bring the community together and offer a supportive and nurturing environment where people can network, build relationships, and assist each other in their professional journeys.
We have over 1000 participants in mentoring relationships Australia wide and are the countries’ largest and most successful mentorship program offered for LGBTQIA+ and allies. It is 100% free, open to anyone 18+ in Australia, and is quick and easy to sign up!
I am very excited to be invited to speak on The Director of Fiji Fashion Week -Ellen Whippy Knight’s recently picked up by a Fijian National TV Station, Fashion Talks with Ellenabout my advocacy and my pivot into fashion with the creation of my new floral crown label Katherine Wolfgramme Handmade.
Ellen is also a well regarded current affairs television presenter and prominent socialite in Fijian Society and a leading luminary of the Fijian Community in Sydney Australia.
It is an honour to be able to present myself to the people of my country of birth with such a lovely debut.
broadcasting live via Zoom on Facebook on Wednesday September 8 at 4pm Australian Eastern Standard Time.
I have just started creating floral crowns especially designed to go with Camilla Kaftans and Leisurewear.
So….I’ve launched a label!
Unfortunately with COVID lockdowns, there is no elegant launch with a fashion parade and champagne but I am now creating one off handmade floral crowns and headpieces to stock in boutiques across the Eastern Suburbs, specifically made to adorn elegant leisurewear for glamorous outdoor events, weddings, day gala, summer cocktail parties, swish afternoon tea events, dance parties and of course Mardi Gras; or just to make the great unwashed, feel unwashed, ha!
Something perfect for COVID Brides who cannot access hairdressers and makeup artists.
Also designed to be moderately priced to meet the gap in the floral crown market (an issue I was faced with annually) I sincerely hope my new hobby that was borne out of a need to keep my mind busy during this lockdown becomes successful enough to pay for itself so I can continue to do something I enjoy.
Wish me luck!
My first physical stockist is Sharon ‘Sha Sha’ Barclay’s Oasis Emporium on Macleay St in Potts Point.
You can also view some of my stock on Instagram at KWflowercrowns
To Stock In Your Retail Showroom or for Editorials Please Contact Me Directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
I knew the second wave, the Delta Strain of Covid19 from India was going to be absolutely horrific if it came to Australia, and I prayed and hoped that it would not because I saw in advance how it had ravaged my country of birth Fiji.
So when the Delta Variant was first detected here in Sydney with the first cases reported in Bondi I went on a manic online shopping spree because I knew I would be locked down for months, instead of shopping for toilet paper – a baffling and mysterious first world phenomena where panic shoppers will buy all the toilet paper available in supermarkets rather than important things like food and medicals, I bought a plethora of silk flowers, florist wire, florist tape, silk ribbons and headbands, 71 separate 0rders each order containing several items not because I was completely crazed but because i decided to join the world wide trend of Pivoting.
In 2019 and 2020 I was very ill but I didn’t realize it, so ill I ended up in hospital early 2021 and then admitted to Sacred Heart Rehabilitation in Darlinghurst in Sydney recovering from a broken leg I had not healed from both mentally and physically, I also had undiagnosed Cushing’s Disease and Diabetes.
It started with my broken leg, unfortunately I was not given the right aftercare after I fell off a stage (truly, I couldn’t make it up) and fractured a bone in my leg, so I remained isolated in my third floor apartment for three months because the stairs caused my leg too much pain for me to even think of descending and ascending the stairs to and from my home; eventually I picked myself up and started leaving the apartment and I was also excited my rehab was was finally set for April 2020..I could see people were shocked by my appearance, I had gained weight and I used a walking stick but could only walk short distances, I was basically an invalid.
By March 2020 the global pandemic began and Australia and the world was sent into self isolation, which in turn caused all my medical follow up appointments to be canceled.
At first the isolation seemed calming and beautiful but having no control of the world around me must have had a very deep negative psychological effect on me because I was also so terrified I only left my bed to go to the bathroom and collect the home delivered groceries and food deliveries left at the door. I had by this time subscribed to every streaming service available so my days were filled with non stop television.
I think it must have been during this time that my undiagnosed Cushings Disease led to Diabetes, I had gained 30kgs so I was diagnosed obese to boot, a series of unfortunate events led me to be become very sick.
When I finally went to St Vincents Hospital in Sydney in January 2021 it became very obvious to myself that things were serious because the hospital strongly advised me to stay the weekend until a bed was available at the rehabilitation centre – hospitals usually chuck you out as soon as possible.
To be honest I was in shock, I mentally did not grasp what was going on but I did know rehabilitation was my salvation so I stayed in the hospital and waited for a bed in the rehabilitation clinic, also knowing I could die made me very compliant and obedient – contrary to some jealous rumors I actually do take direction well when instructed properly…
Rehab was a dream, the care and empathy and sympathy shown to me helped me heal in leaps and bounds, with all my ailments diagnosed and treated, and with my physical rehabilitation taken care of I was able to heal both mentally and physically, I don’t wish to whitewash things so I will say it was physically and mentally very demanding at times and I cried a lot but in the end I pulled through this year with flying colours, the deep depression lifted, I no longer have Cushings and my diabetes is taken care of; oh and I am also walking without a walking stick 90 minutes every afternoon and have also gone from Australian dress size 22 to a size 16!
Post first wave of Covid19, work and society and virtually everything else returned to normal, all was wonderful until the Delta Variant from India arrived in Australia late July 2021.
Instead of defeat and returning to my bed again like the last lockdown I decided to pivot – change direction, do something I have always wanted to do but was never able to do, and my idea came from my annual issue which occurs around every Mardi Gras Season.
Every February The Sydney Gay Community puts on a celebration like no other – The Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, an internationally recognised event where my community comes together to remember the past crimes committed against us but also to celebrate the rights we have won as a community by a gigantic street parade followed by a legendary dance party second to none . The Mardi Gras Arts Festival runs for a month culminating with the dance party.. our last hurrah before our season ends and the Autumn weather sets in.
I digress, every parade night I like to wear flowers in my hair in memory of my glorious trans god mother Carmen Rupe who was always adorned in enormous jewels, glorious gowns and a gigantic flower in her hair, she was a striking a figure in every parade and an iconic and much loved transgender woman of Sydney and New Zealand’s Gay and Transgender Communities, basically she is a legend.
Every year I would scramble to find flowers for my hair to pay tribute to Carmen’s memory, I myself cannot wear just a single giant flower, I prefer flower crowns and every year I am faced with the same dilemma, a milliner will charge me between $500 to $700 for a silk flower crown, a florist will charge me $220-$300 for a fresh flower floral crown or I can buy a plastic one from the discount store for $4! I could see there was a gap in the market.. and I thought I could attempt to meet that gap, I am in lockdown and there really was nothing else for me to do.
I had never made millinery or floral headwear before so I decided that during the impending lockdown I was going to learn to make them to keep my mind healthy and far too busy to worry about the world around me which I had no control over.
I was always very artistic and creative growing up, and drawing, painting, sketching, singing and all forms of decorating was my creative expression, I was destined to be a designer of some kind; be it interior or fashion design. In 1990 I attended design school in Melbourne, I deferred for a year to transition, but when I tried to return in 1991 the school declined to take me back, not because I was transgender but because they could not guarantee my safety and did not wish to hire security to ensure my security travelling between classes, I was told the people a year above me would remember me which would be the cause of the issue.
Thus ended my dreams of of being a designer, this would not have happened today, but sadly thirty years ago was another era.
That is how I came to my new hobby, designing floral crowns and floral millinery, and for a novice, I actually don’t think I am too bad.
The world is an uncertain place with Covid cases rising in Australia, as of today there are 500 new cases a day in Sydney alone, we will no doubt reach a thousand soon. I have no control over the future of my community or the outside-world but I do have control over the small bubble that I live in – so each morning I play beautiful operatic arias and start creating silk floral creations to adorn imaginary heads for weddings, racewear, parties and gala events…. I go into a cocoon of creativity and I feel so impossibly happy, happier than I have felt in years because for the first time in thirty years my creativity has again been able to flow freely and so beautifully, so I am in heaven – I’m designing again.
I feel like a busy bee surrounded by a garden of silk flowers and I feel euphoria in my beautiful silk garden, and my newly created floral adornments are my honeypot.
I already have a Potts Point boutique to stock.
I feel so fortunate that I was able to pivot and explore a side of me that has been locked away so long, I hope I can make a small successful little cottage industry to supplement my income out of this so I can continue creating beauty for many years to come – just for the joy of it.
On a practical note, if they don’t sell they each match one my kaftans so I will be set for every Mardi Gras and wedding from now until Kingdom Come.