I am honoured to be nominated for an Honour Award, ACON’s annual gala event held at The Ivy Ballroom in October.
After winning an Australian LGBTI Award in March I know it really is an honour just to be nominated.
I am honoured to be nominated for an Honour Award, ACON’s annual gala event held at The Ivy Ballroom in October.
After winning an Australian LGBTI Award in March I know it really is an honour just to be nominated.
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.
An excerpt 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 is 1987 and I am only 15.
T150 Clinic is a part of the Albion Centre and provides free medical attention to trans identifying people every Tuesday from 1pm until 4pm.
Article written by me for The Star Observer
In my capacity as Ambassador of The Gender Centre I was invited to speak at Rainbow Families’ event held at Sydney Park last Sunday May 26th to help launch their new Trans and Gender Diverse Parents Guide.
The guide was created by Rainbow Families because there was no resource available to help trans and gender diverse parents and their young families
The organisation self funded the book and launched the guide at their major annual International Family Equality Day Event at Sydney Park.
To download the Trans and Gender Diverse Parents Guide click here: https://www.rainbowfamilies.com.au/trans_and_gender_diverse_parents_guide_released?fbclid=IwAR0RL07EiopO5aSOEhjH7tA87SGyS3MxUhPUZRtUrFqy6Pz3tZiGLrz0aa8
Below is the transcript of my speech.
My name is Katherine Wolfgramme, I have come in my capacity as The Ambassador of the Gender Centre, Australia’s oldest peak trans related welfare organization serving transgender children , youth, adults and Trans Seniors, their families and partners. Around areas ranging from casework, counselling, peer support groups, advocacy, and emergency and transitional housing for the last 37 years.
I would look like to begin my speech by reading you a message from the Director of the Gender Centre, Phinn Borg
“Parenting is difficult at the best of time. Parenting as a trans parent is a whole other level of challenge and complexity. So, I would like to acknowledge your hard work. Your love and dedication. Being trans is hard. Facing discrimination. Trying to get on with life when sometimes the hardest thing to do is walk out the front door. When you’re a trans parent you have to be brave enough to face discrimination, while also finding a way to be the best you can for your child or children.”Phinn Borg, Director of The Gender Centre
As Ambassador I would like to say that we at the Gender Centre congratulate you on the launch of the Trans and Gender Diverse Parents Guide, we believe this is a thoughtful, informative and generous initiative and The Gender Centre’s door is always open to all gender diverse people and their families.
For those of you who do not know me, I am also an outgoing board member of Wear It Purple, and in-coming Board Associate of The Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, columnist at Star Observer and award winning Gender Diversity Consultant and Trans Activist….. In my spare time… I can be found on the weekends among my people working at Stonewall Hotel.
I am 47 years old and I transitioned nearly thirty years ago, next year will mark 30 years as Katherine, and in that time, I have witnessed great changes both socially and fundamentally for the LGBTI Community.
Never once did I imagine I would come and speak at an event where people from my own gay family have real children, and children on the way.
Never did I imagine that I would see a time when I personally could legally marry, have children or have any equal rights for that matter. I have done neither, but it feels wonderful that it is now recognized as my choice now.
I did not foresee anti-vilification and anti-discrimination laws would be specifically written to protect transgender people, nor did I ever expect to see transgender employment equality or trans related policy changes in the work place or transgender identifying children openly access education – or live to see a day where their parents stand by them and protect them.
We live in very modern times, and we have come so far.
To understand this renaissance for transgender people, we must rewind 30 years and see what Gay & Lesbian people were doing. Some of you here may remember this time, and I ask that you please forgive me as I continue in the third person, but they were going through the same levels of growth then, that we the transgender population are going through now. Thirty years ago our rainbow allies were fighting for employment equality and the right to be legally recognized as equal.
Now that you are strong, our Gay & Lesbian Allies have come forward to empower the trans populations by providing support, empowerment and giving us a platform to be heard. And most importantly an equal place in our beautiful LGBTI Community – this is what I understand to be the definition of inclusion.
And a beautiful example of inclusion is the program Rainbow Families are launching today specifically tailored to support transgender people who are parents with children. On a side note – and not as an ambassador, but as a human, speaking with other humans, I would like to say Thank You. Thank you for including transgender people whether child or parent and their families into your groups, and thank you supporting us and including us.
Strong Families Are Built On Solid Ground. Our Roots run Deep and Our Branches Spread Far and Wide to Catch the Sun So We Can Nourish and Bear Our Much Yearned For Fruit, Planted With and Protected by Our Love.
I would like to lastly finish by saying that I am so proud of all of you and the families that you have created against all odds, I send you my love and my strength, and if there is anything that I can do, please reach out to me and if it is in my power, I will do anything that I can to help.
Congratulations, all of you for launching the Trans and Gender Diverse Parents Guide, and Happy International Family Equality Day.
I believe IDAHOBIT aka International Day Against Homophobia Biphobia Inter-sexism and Transphobia is an important day to bring into focus the phobias and discriminations the LGBTI populations still face today.
Australia has just had a federal election, phobias are one of the campaign tools conservative parties use to scare people into voting for them mainly using transgender children and gay children the main focus to scare parents whose children are at school, this is a perfect example of phobias being used against our community.
Another example was the Marriage Equality Campaign – it was a time our whole community, including youth and children were held up to age old discriminations and phobias during the campaign, causing most of the LGBTI population to suffer minority stress.
To understand how to conquer phobias against the LGBTI Community we must look at the word phobia, phobia means fear, fear comes from things we do not understand, so to help people understand we must educate- to break down the fears around their phobias.
IDAHOBIT is a day when those that can, come forward to educate those who might not understand in the hope of breaking down fears towards the LGBTI Community.
I was honoured to speak at four IDAHOBIT Events, Ashurst, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Clifford Chance and Qantas.
Ashurst is one of the “Big Six” law firms in Australia and ranks 25 globally, it was a pleasure to sit on a panel with people who are creating change and continue to break down barriers for LGBTI people in Australia at The Ashurst IDAHOBIT Breakfast.
At lunch I was guest speaker at The Bank of America Merrill Lynch IDAHOBIT Lunch. Bank of America is America’s preeminent Financial Institution and is one of the leading banks of the world.
I delivered my Trans Awareness Programme that was streamed live to their 12 Head Offices in the APEC region including China, Taiwan, Singapore and Tokyo finishing with an internationally interactive Q&A. I believe this is how true change occurs and I look forward to creating greater understanding internationally in the future.
In the afternoon I had the pleasure of speaking at Clifford Chance, Clifford Chance one of the “Big Six” law firms in Australia and ranks number 10 Globally.
I spoke about my experiences accessing legal services in the last 30 years since my transition, and the impacts and positive change pro bono work can have on minority communities, and also legal issues still facing the Transgender Population in Australia.
On the following Monday I had the pleasure of Speaking at Qantas’ Head Quarters for their IDAHOBIT Event, Qantas is Australia’s Flagship Airline ahead of their exciting new trans policy changes which will help support trans employees in the work place.
A wise person once said to me “just by existing do we create change”, and never more so do I believe this to be true, I am now fortunate to be in a position to help create change for my community for generations to come.
I end this post the same way I ended every event on IDAHOBIT, by saying:
Be Kind, Be Kind to All Humans, Not Just Some Humans.Katherine Wolfgramme
In his own words, Aram is “a queer trans guy in his mid-thirties”. He and him pronouns work for him, though he also happily answers to they and them. He is a parent (of both the human and dog variety), a partner, a guncle, a community advocate and a very occasional model. Aram likes lifting heavy weights while listening to loud electronic dance music, and, thanks to his son, he’s developed a nerdy enjoyment of Marvel superheroes and LEGO.
What do you do for work?
I’m incredibly lucky to be the Director of Engagement with Equality Australia – our country’s first national legal advocacy and campaigning organisation for LGBTIQ+ issues. We very much operate from the belief that after marriage equality, we have a responsibility to ensure that we protect the rights we’ve won and amplify the voices of those who do not yet enjoy full equality. This of course especially applies to trans and gender diverse people, and so I feel that it is right and important for me, as an out trans person, to be deeply involved in this work.
When did you transition?
I transitioned 13 years ago, in my early twenties when I was still living in Western Australia. I was incredibly lucky – the GP that I saw at my university medical clinic had supported a number of previous patients to transition, so when I said that I wanted to, she knew exactly how to support that. My medical transition was really the straightforward part; what I hadn’t realised would be more complicated was the social transition – everything from choosing my new name to learning how to navigate a very gendered world in a now-male presenting body. I was really lucky throughout this process – my partner at the time and my friends were patient, supportive and accepting of me, as was my employer. The response of people around you when you transition is what makes all the difference.
Did you have any role models growing up?
I grew up inside a fundamentalist Christian religion that almost borders on a cult. I went through conversion therapy as a teenager, and lived a life that was pretty cut off from the rest of the world, so no I didn’t have any role models as I grew up – all the adults I could see were utterly removed from who I knew myself to be.
You’re very involved in politics and activism. What achievements in the trans community are you most proud of so far?
I’m proud of being brave enough to be really visible as a trans person. It wasn’t really my decision initially – my partner when I transitioned was Senator Louise Pratt, and so there was no hiding that she had a girlfriend who was now her boyfriend. But from that moment onwards I’ve made the conscious decision to keep being really visible, especially in mainstream media, even though that means the loss of my own privacy. It’s worth it though, for every single time the parent of a young trans or gender diverse person tells me that seeing me gives them hope for their child, and for every time a trans or gender diverse person tells me that seeing me makes them feel less alone.
Do you think gender diverse people are still misunderstood, and how do you think we could help change this?
I think we’re more known than we were – I remember I spent a lot of time explaining to people that I was transitioning from female to male, and yes, that is a thing – when I first transitioned over a decade ago. I’m not sure that visibility has directly contributed to increased understanding, though. I think we’ve made progress, but there is still a lot of ignorance, misunderstanding, and fear. And I think the only way to respond to this is through ongoing conversation, dialogue and education, and with more and more trans and gender diverse people standing and being visible – if it’s safe and okay for them to do so, of course.
Do you have any words of wisdom for young people who are just beginning their transition?
Don’t be afraid – it’s going to be alright. You’ll find people who will love, accept and want to have sex with you, and being trans is actually pretty cool and something you can come to be proud of. Be patient and enjoy the journey – it’s going to take you longer to really arrive in yourself and your manhood then you think, so give yourself time, and let it just evolve. You don’t have to “be” any particular way, you will find out who you are over time. Look after you – you’re actually not invincible and being visible, being involved in advocacy and dealing with other people’s shitty responses sometimes will add up and take its toll. Pay attention to your mind and your body and get support, take breaks and invest the time and the effort in doing the things that keep you happy and well.
I so value the wisdom of my gender diverse elders, an insight into our past gives much perspective to our future. I found Ricki Coughlan’s post so profound I had to share her wisdom. Ricki won the right to be recognised as a woman in sport at a time when equality for transgender people was just a pipe dream.
In 1980 I would never have dreamed that there would be a trans flag much less a thing called the internet, social media and a trans flag emoji 🏳️⚧ We’ve come a long way, but we have also come nowhere. I first met transgender people in 1980-81 in a small room at the top of some stairs in the Kings Cross Wayside Chapel. This was in a group convened by Roberta Perkins. She had formed this group as an opportunity for trans folk to share, support each other and perhaps begin to work towards practical solutions for the struggles which many of them faced.
The stories in that I heard in that tiny room were appalling. Those trans women barely had lives at all. All were on the verge of homelessness. All were unemployed and had no products. All were struggling even with social security. All were struggling with any government office. None had any form of useful form of identification. All were rejected by their families and children. All were battling with their personal gender dysphoria and the ignorance of the wider community (the term “transphobia” didn’t exist back then). All were struggling in one way or another with professional medical support. There was nowhere for these women to turn to other than that small fortnightly or monthly gathering.
In those days I gather that there was the “show girl” trans community, the sex worker “community” and a very small urban community of trans women. Trans men were a total anomaly as far as I knew and I didn’t meet one until 1983. If “non binary” trans folk existed, I was totally unaware of this but I’m guessing that each of these individuals who felt that they could be at all out may have gravitated to various gay, trans or queer communities in search of comfort, community and support.
Since those days we have seen the emergence of laws which favour and support trans folk. We’ve seen the emergence of the trans community and its joining with the LGB community in a much more formalised fashion. We’ve seen greater understanding in science, which confirms the experiences of trans folk. We’ve seen the emergence of a greater understanding of the nature of gender and medical support for increasingly younger trans folk. We’ve seen the growth of reasonably funded support networks. We’ve seen guidelines in most states for the integration of trans children into our schools and we’re now beginning to see those trans children come out into the wider community were some are even celebrated in a time of growing welcome for trans folk. We’re headed in the right direction on many fronts.
However, trans kids are still slipping through the net of support because we don’t have officially supported trans specific education in our schools (though watch this space, as I know that there are exciting developments coming in this area!). Many if not all trans folk are dealing with the lessons about gender and social disapproval for those who don’t fit gender norms from very early in life. At least some of our pain is what others have made us believe about ourselves: that we’re wrong, broken, evil, contemptuous, dirty, fit for nothing but shame. We need to change this narrative and tear down the norms which produce it.
There is still much work to be done in sport. This is a space where transphobia or at least an ignorance of so many things converging around a trans folk, fairness, inclusion, physiology, sex and gender still challenge many, reflecting in many log jams.
Later transitioning folk are still battling with their own inner demons, gender dysphoria, family issues and community and political attitudes. This is not a space where I am qualified to add very much, apart from saying that I see these folk and lament that we have not made much progress in this area. Of course, what we need is actual leadership in our political community for a start – instead of the stoking of othering and transphobia from too many circles. Proper leadership would render many of the bad attitudes towards trans folk as something to be frowned upon and regretted. Meanwhile, in this space nothing has changed in the almost 40 years since I first nervously climbed those steps in the Wayside Chapel and met those older trans women.
I’ve witnessed forty years of baby steps in this struggle but, whilst recognising that much more needs to be done, we have seen massive change, making vast numbers of lives much better. Each of those small changes will continue to add to the aggregate of change and hopefully make the lives of all trans folk a smoother and happier journey where they can all reach for their full potentials.
So now we have the trans flag emoji. Perhaps it signifies all of those aggregated baby steps as much as the work which lies ahead but let’s enjoy the moment and post it with hope and pride
I thoroughly enjoyed being interviewed by my dear friend Jana Firestone for her podcast on her website http://www.thecuriouslife.net.
It is always a joy to speak with old friends and it is always easier to discuss personal things and draw on old memories.
On Sunday March 31, 2019 Trans Communities and their allies around the world will observe Transgender Day of Visibility.
Many Gender Diverse Communities will do different events and media presentations on the day.
Two very different events will be held in Sydney on Sunday, one a rally and protest march staged by Queer Community activist group Pride In Protest, the other will be a peaceful get together hosted by Trans Pride Australia for the Gender Diverse Community and their allies.
“For me, TDOV represents a day where my identity is acknowledged and I can reflect on a time when it was a struggle just to be myself, it is also a time where I can come together with my community to celebrate our diversity and share our stories.”President and founder of Trans Pride Australia Peta Friend
As for myself, Trans Day of Visibility is important because it is a day that we, the transgender population and our allies let the world know that transgender people exist – being a somewhat invisible and misunderstood community, people tend to forget about us, our plights and issues that many gender diverse people face daily, and International Trans Day of Visibility gives us a platform to let the world know we are here.
And we are not going anywhere.Katherine Wolfgramme
For further information about ITDOV please follow the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Transgender_Day_of_Visibility
I find myself talking more and more about my life, next year I will have been trans exactly 30 years, it has been an incredible journey – and I hope my experiences, whether good or bad will help someone in the future.
It has just occurred to me that you may never have heard my voice…
Podcast interview with William Brougham for Joy 96.9 FM Radio:
It was a privilege to speak with a delegation of doctors and nurses from rural areas about my experiences seeking medical treatment over the last thirty years as a transgender woman, looking back we have come so far, yet I can see we still have some way to go.
Thank you ALBION STREET CENTRE for putting on such an important event to help create understanding for gender diverse people across NSW.
This will help create true change.
This month in Star Observer’s monthly Column “The Gender Whisperer” Katherine Wolfgramme interviews Non-binary trans activist and South Sydney Herald cartoonist Norrie
Norrie has a bubble machine on their bicycle, and they say hearing kids call out “bubble lady” gives them great joy. They don’t correct the kids on using incorrect gendered pronouns, though. They’re just happy to be recognised as a part of their world.
What are your preferred pronouns?
My favourite Norman Gunston moment in Celebrity Squares was when he was asked what ‘she’ referred to in the expression “there she blows”. He replied, “the cat’s mother, and it’s very bad manners”. In public discourse I’m happy with gender neutral pronouns like ‘they’ or ‘them’, or even feminine pronouns, as long as there are no imposed assumptions about reproductive biology coming along with them.
How did you decide on your name?
Before I transitioned, I adopted my middle name, and legally shed my old first and last names. It was linked to my housemate in 1984, who was a computer programmer and only had one name – I think it’s the life mission of computer programmers to make life difficult for other computer programmers; silly computers, programmed to ask for more than one name, when some people only have one. Maybe we were just trying to highlight the huge gap between actual reality and virtual reality?
After a few years I was fed up with being asked for a second name all the time, so I used a joke name, which was initially intended as a querying of identity, before I realised it was also permission for me to be well. That’s how I became Norrie May-Welby.
What are your passions?
Global sustainability and social justice. I’d like to think humanity has a good chance of surviving this century, but it seems the selfish interests of the mega-rich are opposed to this. While it gives me some satisfaction to think of them slowly perishing on Mars long after the people who cleaned their houses on Earth are dead, I’d rather not have most humans wiped out by disasters of our own creation.
What do you believe is the greatest legacy you have given to Australia’s gender diverse communities?
I think that my legacy gets decided by other people after I am dead, I may like to think it was the High Court of Australia case of 2014 that abolished the presumption of sex being always binary (that is, either distinctly male or distinctly female), but it may be that most people remember me simply as the anonymous source of bubbles that changed a dreary day for them. But of course it would be sweet to think that eventually the imposition of binary sex or gender ceased to be a factor for future humanity.
Where do you see the trans community going in the future?
Anywhere they want to go! In a decade or so, being transgender will be as un-noteworthy as being left-handed – statistically unusual, but often unnoticed. Children will be able to access appropriate puberty blockers without having to go to court. And hopefully, with less adverse pressure and more acceptance, more transgender and other sex or gender diverse people will go on to have happy, full, and fulfilling lives, and less will fall to the life-shortening events that we used to suffer in the bad old days.
If you could go back in time and tell your younger self anything, what would you tell them?
Nothing. I’d like to, but I know young me couldn’t be told anything. I would not have believed how my life turned out unless I actually lived through it. The most I could say would be: “You will live through heaven and hell. But you will live.”
Life can be hard for young people dealing with their identity. Do you have any advice for them?
It’s everyone’s right, and duty, to be true to their self. Gosh, did you just accept the pronoun ‘their’ for a single person? You can’t substitute a more apt pronoun there. More advice? You do you, honey, and never think you’re on your own, you’re just part of a huge mass of bubbling cosmic soup.
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.
Nearly 3 decades ago, I took the step of allowing my true self to come forward and I have been happy and whole ever since.
The most joyous decision any human can make is to accept and embrace themselves and never apologise for who you are.
For this month’s Gender Whisperer column, Star Observer’s Katherine Wolfgramme speaks with non-binary, transmasculine personal trainer and writer Dibs Barisic Sprem.
An online personality test once described 23-year-old Dibs Barisic Sprem as a Labrador, a description they believe to be the shortest and most accurate. In their downtime, Barisic Sprem loves going on adventures with their dog, riding their motorbike, making “banging” playlists on Spotify, and dancing around the house.
When did you transition, and how did you decide on your name?
I socially transitioned to a close group of friends when I was 19, and was then on hormones a few months before my 21st birthday. My name was actually a nickname from childhood. One day, when I was around ten years old, I realised the initials of my long, Croatian, full name spelled out ‘DIBS’.
Being non-binary, do you feel you’ve experienced intersectional discrimination?
During my formative years I identified as straight, then as bisexual, then as a lesbian, and then as transgender. I certainly didn’t have a cruisy adolescence, but I also didn’t experience the same level of discrimination that a lot of other people have faced in similar circumstances.
How have people reacted to your gender identity?
I have had a large spectrum of reactions over the last four years, ranging from nonchalant to down right transphobic and spiteful. People tend to be very curious and very nosy for the most part. But I don’t mind speaking about all of the finer details because education and representation are the keys to removing fear and prejudice of transgender people.
What field do you work in, and how did you go about finding employment?
I like to say that I’m a jack of all trades, and master of some. For the past 14 months I’ve been a personal trainer, but I always have the odd casual job pop up. It’s my dream to be a professional queer and travel around educating people on diversity, inclusion, and kindness, so I dip my toes in speaking gigs when I can. With my current job, I charmed my way through the interview.
My interview skills are partly due to the massive amounts of confidence I got through being a Pinnacle Foundation scholar. The Pinnacle Foundation scholarships are for disadvantaged LGBTIQ youth who are completing their final year of high school or tertiary studies in a private or public institution.
Are you working on any projects this year?
Yes! Mardi Gras season is going to hear my voice a lot. I’m speaking at Carriageworks on February 23 at ‘My Trans Story’, and I shared a different tale at Queerstories on February 9 at Riverside Theatres. Be there or miss out on some beautiful moments.
Do you think it’s easier to be trans for your generation?
One hundred per cent, yes. The stories that I have heard trans elders relay are quite shocking and the documentaries I’ve watched are really hard to see. Perhaps some cultures who have had trans people seen as spiritual leaders for centuries have felt the opposite effect, as western society reinforces it’s views more and more.
But generally speaking, I think my generation is feeling somewhat safer to be out, depending on so many other factors of course. It’s crucial that there is more trans representation in the media, and in entertainment. As I said before, it’s harder to hate us when you know us so well. The less mystery there is about what it’s like to be trans, the harder it is for cranky people to flat out refuse to believe we exist.
Do you have a message for other non-binary people who are thinking of transitioning?
Full Article As Published in The Star Observer: http://www.starobserver.com.au/news/national-news/new-south-wales-news/its-harder-to-hate-us-when-you-know-us-non-binary-transmasculine-pt-dibs-barisic-sprem/176829
Article written by Katherine Wolfgramme and edited by Matthew Wade for The Star Observer Magazine.
For this month’s Gender Whisperer column, Katherine Wolfgramme speaks with trans elder, award-winning author, and trailblazing pioneer Katherine Cummings.
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 nineties.
Despite rumours to the contrary she hasn’t sailed alone around Cape Horn, worked as a lumberjack, or modelled for Oscar de la Renta. She has, however, sailed alone around Bradleys Head, worked as a payroll guard, and modelled for Madame Lash.
How did you decide on your name?
I named myself after Katharine Hepburn, a strong, intelligent woman who campaigned for human rights at a time when it was unfashionable to do so.
What obstacles did you face transitioning that may no longer be barriers now?
I transitioned when I was fifty-one and went through gender affirmation. I had had experience in amateur theatre work, where I learned about makeup and various other skills that became useful later. The major obstacle I faced (apart from the loss of most of my marital family) was the fact that transgender people were not protected by the NSW Anti Discrimination Act until the mid-nineties. This made it hard to obtain employment, and my position as head of the Library at Sydney College of the Arts became redundant.
You are considered an elder by many trans people across Australia. What would you consider to be your greatest contributions to the community?
I’m surprised to hear I am thought of as an elder. I think I’m just old. I have contributed to change in some regulations. I managed to persuade the Immigration Department to change my name on my Naturalisation Certificate which had been contrary to their practice, and I did manage to persuade the Income Tax Office that electrolysis was therapeutic and not cosmetic as far as trans people were concerned. They refused to agree for four years but in the fifth year they conceded the point and refunded my previous four years payments. Both of these concessions became precedents for others to follow.
Next year will mark the 20th international Transgender Day of Remembrance. How have you played a role in Sydney’s event?
I joined the Gender Centre in 2001, and was asked to organise TDoR on behalf of the centre in 2003. I believe the day is a useful way to bring trans people together and to involve people of influence who may thereafter be inclined to work for the betterment of transgender welfare. We have heard keynote speeches from politicians, highly placed administrators, dedicated activists, and sympathetic influential police commissioners, as well as various individuals from the community who have brought their personal experiences to the fore and reinforced the need for an amelioration of the general trans condition.
What have been the greatest leaps forward for the trans community, and what do you feel is lacking?
In the legal sector the inclusion of trans in the NSW Anti Discrimination Act stands out and the subsequent attention given to transgender rights by the Anti Discrimination Board. The creation of Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers in the police force has also been a move in the right direction, and changes to Correction Services policies have also improved the lives of a lot of incarcerated transgender men and women. Socially there have been significant advances, but there is still much to be achieved through education.
What are your hopes for the trans community?
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.
What advice would you pass down to future generations?
Do 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.
Listen to Katherine’s powerful and poignant speech from Trans Day of Remembrance last year: www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/v714ub
View Online Article Here: http://www.starobserver.com.au/news/national-news/new-south-wales-news/i-transitioned-when-i-was-fifty-one-trans-elder-katherine-cummings/175203?fbclid=IwAR3xSbVz0T56RjOg23DpGbAKQ_Xl-NrvCja1HYuNQbxjShOXKoMGV0m4vGk
Excerpt from the Queer Screen Website:
You’ve heard of ladies in waiting, but have you heard of leitis in waiting? In Tonga, the smallest kingdom in the world, these indigenous transgender women have traditionally played a central role in society as attendants to the royal family. However, a recent influx of foreign evangelism has seen a rise in discrimination in this conservative island paradise.
Joey Joleen Mataele, a leiti of noble blood who founded the Tonga Leitis Association is leading the fight for equal rights. She’s a quiet force to be reckoned with; hosting the joyful and hilarious Miss Galaxy Queen beauty pageant, challenging the homophobic preachings of a US-backed Tongan televangelist, and addressing a United Nations panel on LGBTIQ rights.
From the team that produced audience fave Kumu Hina (MGFF15), this fascinating documentary is a rare glimpse into the culture of leitis (“ladies”) and their struggle for respect.
“Leitis in Waiting is a true gift to the world – mesmerizing and unflinching” – Jeannette Hereniko, President, Network for the Promotion of Asian Pacific Cinema
Presented with Katherine Wolfgramme – Gender Diversity Consultant & Trans Awareness Training in Sydney
To read the full article, see trailer or buy tickets click on the link below: