Trans Children & Their Parents

The shocking truth is, per capita, thirty five percent of transgender people attempt to commit suicide, the percentage is even greater among trans the youth population, why you may ask?

Roots.

A transgender child who remains in the home, protected by their parents and family will grow up to be a happy and healthy adult. These, I believe are the roots that are fundamental to human development and mental health in a person.

During the Marriage Equality Campaign, misinformed parents feared their children would be infected by trans children and their children would want to change sex too. This contagious argument, though ridiculous, was once applied to children from divorced homes, ethnic minorities, gay people, people living with AIDS, Jews, etc. We all now know this misunderstanding is just uneducated fear.

Parents of trans children who have chosen to love their children and keep them safe  at home  have come under immense scrutiny and criticism by other parents, religious groups and also spiteful writers who wish to sell newspapers. Through the internet, these same parents have found each other and can now find sanctuary in peer support. These brave parents are not over indulgent, they know their children are trans. And come from a place of love.

A trans child is not created, a trans child is born.

For at least 1,600 years Christian trans youth have been forced to leave home and seek out survival  on the margins of society as a vulnerable people. And at least 30% of them committed suicide, many others were murdered, died of accidental substance abuse, starved to death – how they died is merely a sidetrack of the shocking  fact that they were allowed by other Christians to die at all. As Christianity spread across the colonial world, more  trans people were forced to survive outside of society and on the margins because their ancient positions in cultures were taken away from them, becoming beggars and prostitutes as their only means of survival. The Hijra of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were forced off their valuable lands granted them by the Moghul Emperors and stripped of their privileges as priestesses and teachers. The Raj created anti-Hijra laws and made all them criminal tribes, under the Criminal Tribes Act. All because their gender did not comply with the British Empire’s religion. This is just one example of what befell trans people and their cultures with the rise of dominant religions through Empire. It is my belief that it is not true Christian behaviour to allow such a long term and widespread injustice to have occurred.

I believe the bishops of our world will one day stop and realise we are all children of God, and it is God’s will that we are created, otherwise the transgender population would not have existed as a naturally reoccurring  phenomena in humans in every culture since the dawn of man.

Image curtesy of National LGBT Health Alliance

If society supports parents of trans children, society will win. The government will save millions, definitely billions of tax payers’ dollars in the long term – because the children will have roots. Their parents will force them to go to school, get a job, and tech them life skills, just like other sons and daughters in other families across the world. This will reduce the strain on social welfare, through drastic reductions in unemployment, mental health, youth homelessness and suicides, and the benefits to society will be long term. It really is a win-win situation.

Image curtesy of National LGBT Health Alliance

This issue is important to me emotionally because I was once a trans child, and my parents thought they were cursed. I was the source of all their shame – A heavy burden for an 8 year old child.

I left home at 18 so I could transition. My roots were severed, but by sheer force of will, determination and the love of my great grand parents, my roots slowly grew back, just enough to give me the will to survive and flourish, just at the same time that many of my peers lost their will to continue.

image curtesy National LGBT Health Alliance

I don’t blame my parents, it was the early 1970s and  our situation was beyond their comprehension. There was no peer support or readily available access to information for them, but there is support and information now.

As a trans adult who was once a trans child, I promise you these parents are telling the truth. If they ask for support, please support them, when they speak, please listen, if people refuse to  acknowledge them, please, give them a platform.

All children are our future. X

 

 

My Personal Contribution to Trans Sydney Pride.

A lesson to live by.

In the second half of 2015, I was asked to admin Trans Sydney Pride’s online group page because it had been hijacked by anarchic stereotypes. The co-founders Penny Clifford and Peta Friend felt I was best suited to sort everything out and create order out of chaos, at the time it was a small social group that met for drinks once a month, and were not equipped to deal with online trolls, militant extremists and bullies , who were coincidentally, trans identifying too.

First article, announcing TSP’s arrival – curtesy SX Magazine

I swept out the anarchic element and structured the group with strict written rules on online social behavior, and as an example, anyone who broke these rules were thrown out immediately. Soon a respectful social behavior developed where everyone learned normal and acceptable communication, a very important thing to learn for many who were used to isolation and dysfunction . Politics has always been divisive, so discussing any politics was banned too. The Peace allowed members to be heard while others learnt to listen and converse without fear of criticism. Many members began to blossom, new friendships were forged, and the social group developed, and grew as a community. This is wonderful because Trans Sydney Pride have some fantastic and successful role models for inspiration – there was  great potential for Trans Sydney Pride to do more than just meet socially.

At this time I was studying Community Services, and Community Development was my favorite subject, so I was able to apply  what I was learning to the group.

It was my vision to see TSP participate in Mardi Gras – but for me it was solely as a community building project. To achieve this goal members had to raise the funds, share ideas and pull together resources, rehearse and plan group activities – just like a community.

With Peta Friend, promoting our first event with an article in the Wentworth Courier – Image curtesy of Wentworth Courier.

I produced our first exclusively trans run and operated fundraising event, Q&A: Transitioning & career Success. The guest panelists were 3 successful career women who managed to stay employed through their transition process, the event was a part of Sydney Pride Festival, the sellout success of that event, led onto our first “Trans Stories” the following year, and the rest is history.

“Trans Stories- a celebration” Image curtesy Ann Marie Calilhanna Photography

The group independently of me started organising other fundraising events.

Peta organised and led the TSP float for Mardi Gras, and the sight of group members proudly marching as a group was a touching moment for me to watch on television, they had achieved this moment together as community.  I was one of the faces of Mardi Gras that year and was a part of the opening, so unfortunately I couldn’t share in their debut at Mardi Gras.

Trans Sydney Pride’s debut at Mardi Gras.

It was also my vision to hold Sydney’s inaugural Transgender Day of Remembrance Candlelight Vigil at Taylor Square, to add it as an important  date on the LGBT Calendar and to bring the trans community closer to the gay and lesbian community, I initiated and personally produced the inaugural event.

by Ces Busby – image curtesy SX Magazine for Gay News Network

https://instanonymous.com/m/BM0AP0Yj044

Coming from a place of duty, what I didn’t realise or foresee was The Candlelight Vigil is in fact a safe space for trans people to come and congregate, and to remember their friends who had died. The atmosphere was so sad, so emotional, yet beautiful and undeniably powerful in its quiet dignity.

The Flag flies proudly above the mourners as they lay their candles in memory of loved ones who have passed. – image curtesy Tyson Young
Hundreds gathered at dusk for Sydney’s Inaugural TDoR Candlelight Vigil at Taylor Square -image curtesy Tyson Young

http://www.colleenwindsor.com/2016/11/sydney-marks-transgender-day-of.html

I also created Trans Sydney Pride Family and Friends, Trans Pride Groups Interstate, founding Trans Melbourne Pride, and taking the names of the other states for future use as the group expands nationally (which was another vision).

Twice I tried to move the group to a not for profit charity status during my tenure.

I was guided and supported by my many friends within Sydney’s LGBT Community who have ensured TSP’s long term success.

Community service is a thankless task, but I am rightfully very proud of the work I did for Trans Sydney Pride, and the legacy that I have left them to continue.

Trans Sydney Pride became a Not For Profit Organisation on the 27th of September, 2018, with a new name Trans Pride Australia and a new website: https://www.transprideaustralia.org.au/

 

Visions, ideas, and directions change, this too is an important evolution for any group, and I wish Trans Pride Australia and its many diverse members every success as it moves into the future, as a community of people. X

Trans Sydney Pride Logo

 

The Trans Pride Flag

A lesson to live by.

I love the trans flag, when I see it flying, it touches me, because it represents my identity. It instills in me a sense of trans history.  When I look at the flag, I think of all the other generations of transgender men and women who struggled and fought, and died so that one day, I could enjoy an unprecedented level of human rights that trans people in Australia enjoy today – and it really does fill me with PRIDE.

The Trans Pride Flag,

The Trans Flag flies especially on special occasions on the transgender calendar, it is particularly prominent on the Transgender Day of Remembrance aka TDoR. This is a sacred day for most trans communities internationally, where we a acknowledge  trans people around the world who have been murdered, I personally also acknowledge those who have died from suicide and substance abuse- because in a way, the path that led them there was their reaction to transphobia and their experience of life on the margins.  Trans people don’t begin transition as drug addicts, but many trans people become substance abusers because of the way they  have been treated by society – and this is sad.

There are lists of transgender murders posted annually online online, here is one:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unlawfully_killed_transgender_people

I think wiki explains the flag’s history better than I ever could so here is the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender_flags

Would you like to know more about the me? Click here: https://www.wolfgramme.com/about/

My first blog post!

A lesson to live by.

I suppose, this being my very first blog post I should start with a small introduction!

I was born in Fiji in 1972, and arrived in Australia in 1974. Educated in Melbourne, I escaped to Sydney shortly after my transition.

Sydney is where I call home, the core of my friends live here, and no matter where I go in the world – I always return home.

My great grand parents instilled in my family the importance of community service.

I lived seven years in beautiful Daylesford, I enjoyed country life, and the locals just let me be me. It was wonderful.

About three years ago, my best friend got skin cancer, At that time I was living in splendid isolation in a most idyllic village called Daylesford, in the Victorian Highlands.  Words cannot describe the incredible sadness and devastation at thought of losing my best friend  -I just needed to be close, so I left my country idyll, and I moved home to Sydney without any employment prospects whatsoever, all I knew was I couldn’t be far from my friend, in case he needed me – he says I was much nicer when I thought he was dying, but, I digress..

I had just moved in with friends when I decided to look for a job, I didn’t hide my gender – and to be honest my resume looked so slim I stuck my short stint with Les Girls in to plump it up a bit, well it was very lucky I did, everyone was preparing for Safe Schools, and wouldn’t you know it, they were short of transgender counselors!!

But, but, B-U-T, I had to go back to school and do my Cert IV in Community Services! It was a horrifying prospect sitting in a classroom of young CIS Gender heterosexual people, but, life is lived by the brave, and I am nothing if I am not brave – and I was strangely excited and nervous too. I made lots of jokes about it – but I was terrified.

I finished my Cert IV, and wouldn’t you know my bad luck? Safe Schools was canned.

I wasn’t sure as to what to do, because that job as a transgender counsellor no longer existed, and I had just gotten used to a year of skimping and scraping, so I decided to further my studies for another year with a Diploma in Community Services! (yay) (just kidding).

Every member of my immediate family have degrees, including all my cousins, I have always felt a little left out because  I don’t have one, but as my Grandmother gently pointed out once, I am different, and it was my hope to finally obtain one,  I am not a natural student and I found the workload hideous, I just couldn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t (and refused to) go to university to get a Bachelor Degree in Social Work which would have taken a further two years – I just didn’t have it in me.

While I was studying I was also doing a lot of community service work within my community, bringing communities together, organising community events, writing articles, sitting on committees, charity fundraising  etc – and I can assure you the “etc” part kept me extremely busy. There were also social obligations family and friends, oh, I was also one of the faces of the Mardi Gras campaign 2017, my face featured on flags, posters and artwork across the city, we even opened the parade at Taylor Square, it was very difficult to remain modest under these circumstances, I felt like homecoming queen and poster girl. To be the most celebrated transwoman in the city for even just a beautiful moment was surreal, and a great honour, and quite frankly – bloody marvelous!

 

…back to not wanting to keep studying..

I complained to anyone that would listen that I just didn’t want to study anymore, which was lucky for me because a friend suggested I should be a gender diversity consultant because it was something I did anyway – and lets be honest, I can talk under water! During my student work-placement at The Gender Centre, my supervisor also said the same thing, she said that although I was a wonderful and inspiring caseworker, I would only be able to help at most 20 Clients a week, but as a consultant I could help generations of my peers to come – my supervisor made me feel very nervous and the idea was way too out there for me. But coming from a friend at a birthday lunch the idea didn’t sound so crazy – because its what I do already -because its what I’ve always done.

Several months of preparation, and here I am, writing my very first blog post, so you could be nosey..

Welcome, and please feel welcome to drop by again.

Katherine x

Turning Fear Into Understanding.

photo curtesy of SGLMG