I love Mardi Gras in Sydney, it is like Gay Christmas, we wear our best, act our nicest and there are parties everywhere, one of my favourite this year was at Chuuka Restaurant in Pyremont.
It was a lovely Sunday afternoon, motor tricycles ferried us from the street to the end of the Wharf.
DJs played on while drag queens swayed and we all laughed and chatted to the effervescent sound of free flowing French champagne and an eye popping abundance of delicious morsels arrived from the kitchens – classy, sydney style.
Thank you Star Entertainment Group and CMO George Hughes for your wonderful hospitality at Chuuka, a restaurant I will definite return to.
YIORGOS is a photographic portrait artist who has a remarkable
way of making photography look like paintings.
The Voyeur was taken at precisely 3pm when the light is most beautiful, I do love my skin against a black velvet foreground and background, the Venetian mask adds mystery to the portrait.
I love this painting because I think as a trans-woman I often feel like I am on the outside looking into a world that is not mine, studying custom and culture that belong only to non-transgender people.
If you know me you will know I only wear kaftans, rain or shine I will be sporting an elegant mu-mu, I have many kaftans from many designers but my favourite is Camilla…
Camilla Kaftans are a sentimental favourite for well heeled Sydney women, much coveted by those who wish they owned one and much loved by their wearers, to the point that most women know her different collections and recognise a “Camilla” from a mile away, their popularity has reached a point where a kaftan from any other designer is called a fake “Camilla”.
Their resale vale is very healthy, thus why though expensive Camillas are good investments.
With shock and delight I took a call from Camilla Head Office to invite me to participate in a Mardi Gras Campaign with Camilla Franks – The Goddess of Kaftans… needless to say I said yes without fuss or stipulation, haha.
Camilla has an abundance of energy which made the photoshoot nothing short of magical.
To top off the daydream, I was paid in Camillas – Thank you universe.
21 Feb 2020 What Matters. This weekend we are celebrating What Matters. We celebrate acceptance, inclusiveness and above all, equality. We will be parading through the streets in the name of love, so very proud of our LGBTQIA Tribe. We love you endlessly and this weekend, we honour you.Happy Mardi Gras, with love Camilla xx
I was invited to recite a story that had inspired me as a young LGBT person along with 7 other giants of Sydney’s Gay Community at The National Art School, the event sold very quickly this year and it is no wonder, the settings and surroundings were truly spectacular, and the many recited words were an inspiration to hear.
The air in the room was cultured and refined, cosy and welcoming, and uber elegant.
Congratulations Terese Casu and Dino Dimitriadis on such a thoughtful and visually beautiful and unforgettable event.
Owner of the Merrivale Group, Hospitality Moghul Justin Hemmes flew to Melbourne and approached Poof Doof Melbourne’s owner Anthony Hocking to partner in a venture with him by bringing his legendary gay night to Justin’s legendary venuethe Ivy, situated in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.
Justin believed the very unpopular lockout laws in Sydney would soon finish and his super club needed a new energy and a new direction to enliven his Ivy Precinct and the central business district.
I was approached by Poof Doof’s General Manager, the handsome Nic Holland to run the door because I “know everyone darling“, many of you who know me also know I have always kept a weekend job to keep my foot in the door and keep me in touch with the LGBT Community.
I am not sure anyone foresaw how quickly Poof Doof would become a huge hit, or foresee the gay community travelling away from Oxford St to party. I suppose Justin knew, that is why he is so successful in the hospitality industry.
Offensive slang is often fought against, as a trans advocate I too have had offensive transphobic slang words forbidden, when quizzed about this recently I only had one reply..
Poof Doof is owned by a gay man, celebrated, loved and frequented by thousands of gay people every week, I think it is wonderful that gay men are now in a place of such privilege that they can take a hurtful word and have fun with it, the trans community is not there yet, but I hope with time and more social equality this will one day happen. One must also consider that I am no longer an stakeholder of the P word, so I have not right to comment on the subject.
Working with Poof Doof Sydney is like being a part of a good hearted family with the best of intentions for the community.
…And it is amazing, people have said to more than once “Katherine, I was expecting something amazing but this is even more amazing than I thought it would be”, what makes Poof Doof amazing?
It is the community inclusivity, young drag queens dancing next to muscle men who are dancing next lesbians who are dancing with twinks who are dancing with trans people, ages ranging from 18 to late 60s all accepting each other, this is what Gay Sydney once was back in the 1990s when Gay Sydney was the envy of the Gay World.
The music too is incredible with a DJ Line up of World Class DJs from Sydney and abroad.
Anthony Hocking aka Hockers is a master of the vignette, so there will always be something visually spectacular every weekend, from dancers, to drag queen, to new lighting and pyrotechnics – every Saturday you will come away with a visual memory to savour until your next visit!
Every facet of Sydney’s Gay Community is welcome, every colour, creed, class, body shape, gender and sexuality is welcome to come to our wonderful club, but be warned you must come in peace and with respect for all aspects of the gay community.
I know this because I am in charge of the door, my job is to keep the riff raff out and to lovingly welcome The Family, The LGBT Community through, and I look forward to welcoming you to Poof Doof every Saturday Night at the Ivy in Sydney.
Poof Doof is situated in Angel Place on Ash Lane in The Ivy Precinct every Saturday Night from 10pm until 4.30am
We are delighted to announce your ChillOut Festival 2020 Ambassador, Ms. Katherine Wolfgramme . Katherine Wolfgramme is an out and proud transgender-woman, a true pioneer for positive change for transgender rights and visibility in Australia. Since her transition 30 years ago Katherine has changed law in one country and changed the language in another. She has been a driving force through her community service and community development work with a particular focus on promoting Transgender Day of Remembrance and Trans Day of Visibility. Katherine holds many titles including The Ambassador of the Gender Centre, Board Associate of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras and former Public Officer of Wear It Purple among many other things. Katherine is also a contributing writer for Melbourne and Sydney Star Observer, with a mission to raise trans visibility in a positive manner. Her community service work has won Katherine several awards, nominations, and accolades. A former Daylesford resident herself, Katherine believes she was inspired by the strong women of Daylesford who taught her to remain strong and true to her beliefs and opened her mind to modern-day feminism. Katherine tells us that she “is so proud and thrilled to return as Ambassador of The 2020 Daylesford Chillout Festival and support the elevation of the health and wellbeing of our community”
Michelle Bauer, Festival Director of Daylesford ChillOut Festival.
This is the very first time I have I have been involved in filmmaking -let alone as interviewer, writer and producer!
In my capacity as The Ambassador of The Gender Centre, I collaborated with film maker Leah Pellinkhof to create a film in partnership with her company Playhead Productions and Queer Screen – Mardi Gras Film Festival and film assistant Grant Kay.
The film comes in six parts which have already been released daily over this week in celebration of Trans Awareness Week or the film can be played as an 11 minute presentation.
It is our vision that the film be shared and used as an educational tool at work, or school or just for you in the future.
The most important thoughts in the Trans Community are voices from the Trans Community, so we must thank the four brave voices of the film who came forward to share their thoughts, hopes and fears Kalypso Finbar, Jules Low, Imogen Brackin and Billee Ward.
Enormous thank you to the director of film maker Leah Pellinkhof whos generosity of spirit enabled her to see my vision and inspired her to create such a beautiful film for the future.
Tomorrow is Transgender Day of Remembrance, it would be a perfect day to share this film – link below:
The Albion Centre is running courses for medical services providers to help teach cultural safety for transgender people accessing medical services.
It was absolutely a pleasure to return to speak about my experiences over three decades of accessing medical services since transition to a class of doctors and medical service providers from around NSW at The Albion Centre.
Reciting my history reminds me about how so very far we have come.
The Imperial Hotel will play host to new drag show featuring an all trans cast, starring 2019 Honour Award Nominee Victoria Anthony, Thai Super Star Lada Marks, the breathtaking beauty of Kalypso Finbar and the effervescent ChiChi aka Antoinette Farrugia.
Lady Girls debuts September 20 at 10.30 at the Imperial Hotel in Erskineville.
Georgie Stone is a leading trans youth advocate, the first transgender actor on Neighbours, and was the 2018 Victorian Young Australian of the Year. She spoke with the Star Observer’s Katherine Wolfgramme.
At what age did you transition and how difficult did you find transitioning among friends and at school?
I started affirming my gender when I was eight years old. It was definitely difficult to be who I was at school – I was bullied by a group of older boys who had a problem with me presenting as female. It was incessant and it was really difficult to not internalise what they were saying and feel ashamed of myself. I was also constantly misgendered by teachers and students. That was really hard. However, I had a great group of friends who stood by me, and my family was great. I feel grateful I had people around me who supported me. I’m one of the lucky ones.
Your courage and determination shine through. Where does it come from?
It comes from necessity, I think. I have to be brave and stand up for myself, because otherwise no one will listen. I’m brave because I have to be, which is the same for every other trans and gender diverse person I know. Just being who we are takes bravery. Whether you’re open about your gender identity or not, it takes courage to even acknowledge within ourselves who we are. That’s why I’m so proud of our community.
You have won a slew of awards, what does that feel like?
It feels awesome to be recognised. I never felt like I could be open about being trans when I was younger, so to win awards for my advocacy is a really great feeling. I also think it is a testament to how eager we are becoming to hearing trans stories. People want to listen now, and I think the recognition is encouragement for more of those stories to be told and listened to.
Being an ambassador for organisations at such a young age are you always comfortable being a trans role model and LGBTQI youth champion? Was there ever a time that you felt the pressure was too great?
There have been many times when I have wanted to stop. I never set out to be an advocate. Either there was too much going on at once, or I thought that I wasn’t good enough to be a proper voice for trans young people. I still get that sometimes. But every time that happens, I remind myself of why I am doing this and why it is important. Taking the focus off myself and onto the true reason why advocacy is important helps me stay focused and grounded.
Describe your reaction when you heard you landed a part on Neighbours? What was your first day on set like?
I was absolutely over the moon! I was so excited, and it was really difficult not to hop on Twitter and tell everyone about it! But I also got really nervous – I wanted this storyline to be great and I wanted everyone to like it. Suddenly I felt the pressure of having to please everyone. But after working with the writers (who are all amazing by the way) I knew that Mackenzie was going to be a great character, and her storyline was going to be equally as great. Working on set has been such an eye-opening experience. I’ve learned so much from the incredible cast and crew, who are all such amazing people. My first day was really nerve-wracking, but I quickly felt really comfortable and started to enjoy myself immensely! I know now that acting is absolutely something I want to continue doing. I love it so much!
Tell us about your character on Neighbours. Do you feel any connection to her?
I love Mackenzie. She is so much fun to play, because she is a little bit complicated. On one hand, she is quite defensive and doesn’t trust people very easily. It takes a while for her to feel comfortable in other’s company. However, once she relaxes she is really sweet and caring. The contradictions are really interesting – she craves connection with other people, yet she is scared to open up and trust those around her. She has had very different experiences to me, so I think she carries a bit more baggage with her – but there is time for her to grow and come into her own.
What is it like to have such a supportive mother?
I feel very lucky to have such a supporting, loving, awesome mum. She’s my biggest supporter, but she also inspires me greatly. I learn so much from her every day and we make a great team. I would not have been able to get through what I have without her. I love her so much.
Do you have a message for any parents who have fears for their trans kids?
Listen to your child, because they know best about what they are feeling inside. You can’t tell them how to feel, and you can’t change something that is intrinsic within them. But you can support them, and you can educate yourself. That is really important. It’s not about you, it’s about the safety and wellbeing of your child.
Your mother has written a book About a Girl that’s being released very soon, are you excited? What is the book about and what would you like the book to achieve?
Yes! My mum has written a book, About a Girl, and I feel honoured to have written the foreword. It’s about our experiences over the last 20 years – what it has been like to grow up as a trans young person in Australia – and what it has been like for mum as a parent. I hope this book can educate people, and I hope helps people who are travelling down a similar path to feel less isolated.
Do you have major plans for the future?
I have no idea what is going to happen in the future! But that is exciting. There are so many possibilities – acting, advocacy, writing, other things I don’t know about yet! I think it is good for me to keep my options open! I love singing and song-writing. I hope that comes into play in some shape or form.
Do you have any concerns for the trans community?
I notice there is a bit of a divide between young trans people and the adult/elder community. We have so many different stories to tell, diverse experiences and perspectives. All are valid and all should have the opportunity to share. We’re stronger when we don’t leave anyone else behind. Also, intersectionality is important. No matter your race, religion, sexuality, physical ability or gender identity – we all need the opportunity to tell our stories and be represented.
When all is said and done, what would you like to be remembered for?
That’s a tough question. I hope I am remembered for more than just my gender identity, but at the same time I hope I am remembered as someone who found success whilst still a proud, open member of the trans community. I don’t know yet, maybe get back to me when I am older!
Across Australia corporations and schools have adopted Wear It Purple Day – the last Friday in August, as a day to wear purple and have fun and at the same time to help silently showing support for rainbow youth in schools by wearing purple.
Corporations will often raise money on that day for their favourite LGBTI Charities and have breakfasts, lunches, morning and afternoon teas or evening events with guest speakers from LGBTI Communities.
Wear It Purple Day is a very busy time for me, I think because of my past involvement and now as a former Board Member, I am often invited to speak at such events.
But my favourite is speaking at Sydney Secondary College – Black Wattle Bay, Sydney Inner West’s Enormous Senior School Campus. I was invited back to speak at the request of the Student Representative Council, who wanted a transgender speaker to show support for the transgender students attending their school.
It is an honour and pleasure to speak at a School Assembly, one must be very careful of how we address young adults and the message needs to resonate with all the students yet most importantly the message must be able to comfort and empower the rainbow young people, Wear It Purple Day is their day after all. I also have a responsibility of care to not use language that could be perceived as indoctrination.
I have included the full transcript of my speech because it was very special for me to compose it, and it was very special for me to also deliver the speech at school assembly.
Good morning School,
My name is Katherine Wolfgramme and I am so honoured to be invited back to speak with you today, some of you will remember me from last year, it was such a joy and honour for me to come and speak and see you all in purple, wearing purple to show all the rainbow students here that they are not alone. I am The Ambassador of The Gender Centre, we support the needs of all transgender people of all ages and their families in NSW, we are oldest transgender organisation in the world, I have recently stepped down from Wear It Purple, I was the first transgender person on their Board, I stepped down so I could join The Board at Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras – which is a lot of hard work! The Student Representative Council specifically asked Mr Pascoe to find a transgender keynote speaker to help support all the transgender students here at Blackwattle Bay, and on behalf of all trans people I would like to thank the SRC for being so inclusive and thoughtful to your fellow students. Feeling alone is a strange emotion, we can easily feel all alone in a crowded room, often that type of aloneness is caused because we feel like the “only one”, I used to feel alone, I am 48 years old, I knew I was a woman inside when I was five, but nobody believed me. I was alone. At primary school children knew I was different and would not play with me, things were very different then, we were just coming out of The White Australia Policy and I was the only black child at school, and when I was 9 everyone started teasing me and call me gay, there was no word for trans.. and black.. I was alone. Being bullied was a very normal part of my school week, and I was only safe at home In high school the safest place for me away from bullies was the school library, I would go straight there at lunchtime and be a library monitor. When I turned 16 things changed, I met an exchange student who had just arrived from Sweden, Anna didn’t see colour and she didn’t see gay, she just saw me. And all the toughest boys at school thought she was hot, and all the prettiest girls at school wanted to be friends with her so the boys would think them hot too.. my life changed, for the boys to find out where the girls would be on the weekend the boys had to ask me… it was also my very first taste of power. So, needless to say the bullying stopped, at that time I looked like a boy but I was so feminine and so gentle, there was no such thing as trans in those days, so people would just call me Fag, or Poof or any of those terrible words, of course everyone outside of school still teased me but at least I was safe at school. But I still felt alone, because I was a woman inside, yet I was not allowed to be me, I was not allowed be Katherine – on the outside at least.. As soon as I turned 18 I transitioned and I have only felt happiness towards myself ever since, the world in those days was not so accepting, everyone, and I mean everyone even strangers thought that I should be ashamed of myself, which made me so unhappy – but that unhappiness was environmental, within myself I was happy because I was whole.
I wanted to share that story with you because I wanted all of you to know that growing up is tough, it isn’t easy trying to fit in and trying to find your space in the world. But for LGBT kids life is even tougher, and to see you all wear purple today for your Rainbow school friends makes me so proud of you, it makes me so proud of all of you. I wish I had a Wear It Purple Day growing up, I would never have felt so unsupported or alone. I changed the law in one country, and I changed language in another, I do love saying that, it makes me feel so…..goood, but I did. I was born in Fiji in 1972, arrived in Australia in 1974 and I transitioned in 1990, in 1997 I wanted to travel the world with my boyfriend. But to change my name on my passport in Australia I had to change my name on my birth certificate in Fiji.. Fiji was a very strict Christian country and this request to them was outrageous, I kept asking and they kept saying no, I was young so it was easy for me to ask the same question a thousand ways, but a thousand times they said no, I kept on, and as people started getting exhausted, I started speaking to people higher up the chain. I pointed out that I would not be safe to travel under a boys name looking like a beautiful woman, terrible things could happen to me in other countries and they had a duty to my safety, eventually after months of nagging people started listening. So I flew to Fiji hired Lawyers and won the right to legally be called Katherine on my birth certificate, passport and all legal documents thereby creating precedent for all other transgender people to access after me. In 2017, there was a word that began with T that men would use to degrade and debase mainly young transgender women, it used to be a harmless abbreviation or slang for Transgender but in the wrong hands became a transphobic slur, I could not allow young trans women to be called this when the majority of these young women made it very clear they hated the word. So I took legal action against all businesses in the ACT and NSW who used the word publicly to cease and desist, not necessarily because the businesses meant harm but because the businesses were inadvertently giving transphobic people permission to use the slur – because transphobic people thought it was normal and acceptable to talk like that. Within three months all businesses complied, not just in NSW but right across the country. There is no longer any doubt that word is wrong and is no longer used in polite conversation. Pretty cool heh?
On a final note, I have come with a message to all the people in this room who feel alone because they are different. “Another word for different is Unique, unique people grow up to be outstanding humans who sometimes do outstanding things” One day, you may go on to change laws, or change language or enhance the world in a positive way. Until that day comes, hold tight be strong and remember – you are not alone today. Because today we are all wearing Purple for you!! When you see people wearing purple clothes today remember they are wearing something purple to silently let you know that even though you don’t know us, we see you, we love you, we stand with you, we stand by you, and when we can, we are standing up for you, so your life will be easier than ours was.
Thank you so much for asking me to return to speak with you, I will always be so happy to return. I wish one and all a Happy Wear It Purple Day. Thank you.
Katherine Wolfgramme, School Assembly, Sydney Secondary College Blackwattle Bay, Wear It Purple Day 2019
As a former Board Member of Wear It Purple, it seems I still remain a part of the Wear It Purple family, and our future seems to be intertwined, I will always heed their call when they request things of me such as the Junkee Media film clip I was in with Billie Ward, which has now gone viral with over 200,000 views on Facebook!