Pride is an intrinsic part of myself. Pride in my sexuality, ethnicity. What I stand for and what I believe. It breaks my heart that the laws were unjust. I cannot imagine how harrowing that must have been. I hope expungement goes some way to healing the pain. We all wear many masks during our lives; at work, at home and amongst friends and lovers. Tying our various masks together as much as we can helps us be more authentic.
The National LGBTI Health Alliance wants to hear from LGBTI elders (65+) about ways to assist LGBTI Elders and Older people to easily identify aged care service providers who deliver LGBTI inclusive services. The attached survey is confidential, has 5 questions and the recommendations will be considered within the context of the new Single Quality Framework Standards developed for aged care by the Department of Health.
The thing I love most about my life right now is getting to be my authentic self, day to day. I have really grown into myself, despite not having any sense of self or direction when I was younger. I feel a responsibility to do what I can in my time here to aid the progress of trans rights and acceptance, for every LGBTI kid yet to come who would benefit from community and representation.
Meeting a stranger, while having my appearance, is daunting. I have no idea from first glance what they will even know about transgender people or gender diversity, or how they feel about it. With kids, it’s different. Most kids, given the opportunity, are straightforward, and just ask about my appearance. I don’t have a problem with that, and I normally give an equally honest reply, that it makes me happy.
I had no expectations coming into the workshop apart from hopefully meeting and connecting with trans and gender diverse people out of my age group, the actual activity of preserving of fruit and vegetables in jars very much secondary, but enjoyable. We were paired, and my partner Brenda suggested granny smith apples and blueberries, both which I love, so we got to work. After the apples were peeled, we put them in boiling water to soften, to then be cut up for our jars. The apples made a snug fit in the pot, and as they floated and jostled in the water, I was reminded of a short conversation.
A few friends of mine, their brother and I had a wonderful day out at a waterpark, and when we tired of the rides, we sat on inflatable donuts and floated around the lazy river. A six-year-old was fueding with my friend’s little brother, but when they finished splashing and chasing each other, she came up to us. She asked why my nails were painted and I said they made me happy. She nodded and then asked if I was a girl. I said yes, she nodded again and then paddled away. I am always amazed at how quickly kids understand. Interactions like this comfort me, and fill me with hope for our future.
There are those who are blessed to know at age 6 that they are different; they are clear and they act on it. Then there are those like me that started to have experiences that sit outside what is considered to be ‘traditional’ gender binary norms. Like I’ve always been fascinated with ballerinas and mermaids. I didn’t understand my gender.
I was stressed in my early years because I was from an upper lower class family – I was too frightened to talk to someone or get a book from the library to explore my gender. I asked a psychiatrist what was wrong with me and how it could be cured. He said: it can’t be changed. This is who you are.
In my sixties I didn’t think I was genuine enough to transition. I doubted my credentials. As I aged I began to believe that it was part of who I am. I began to feel like I could live with myself. I had to come out to myself first before telling my family
As I have experienced more beautiful people it affirms who I am as a gender diverse person. Over time I have become more comfortable with who I am and what I want. Initially I sought the company of other trans and gender diverse people to feel comfortable with myself and have my gender affirmed. My connection to them was deeply rooted. Then I started to feel more comfortable interacting with the broader world. I feel I have more confidence to do that now. It’s still wonderful to get together with My People – they were a village for me.
The older I get, maturity in a female body. Natal women have history as a woman – experimentations as a woman and I’ve gone through experimentation that teenagers do to try and find a place for myself as a woman. I searched for my truth. Trying to be a genuine woman – I have only been able to do that through trial and error and with the passage of time. I am getting closer to being a woman who knows who she is and what she wants.
Being myself has been easier as I’ve aged. I’m ageing disgracefully. I don’t let age constrain who I am. Getting older is nothing to worry about
As I’ve gotten older I’ve come out of my shell more. I’ve done so much advocacy work and that has helped me. I’ve told my story so much that its helped me to know who I am. Five years ago I was just staring hormones and I started public speaking and sharing my story. Quite often I will start tell my story in the third person. I start by saying “I’d like to tell you a story about a young bloke I know.” It lets them know I’ve had a difficult start – and good things have come. I want to tell them hormones are not some magical switch. I’ve had to work at it.
Public speaking has helped me to acknowledge me. I stand up there as a trans person and I talk. I’m saying to them I know I am trans. I am acknowledging my story to you. I’ve got to the point now where I speak from the heart; it doesn’t matter who I am speaking to. When I’m telling my story I point to the door we all entered in and I say to them: before I came in that door I was just Sally. While I’m in here I’m Sally the trans girl. When I leave I’ll be Sally again – I’ll go back to just being me.
I’m proud of my advocacy work. It has helped me to connect to LGBTI communities and to my local community.
I have no fear of transphobia now. I’ve not experienced transphobia. I don’t try to be anything other than myself. I have no airs and graces. I’m not trying to be a Vogue cover girl. I’m just being me. I walk down the street in my stupid crazy coloured leggings and I don’t give a rat’s arse. I proud of myself – and people pick up on that. I’ve learned that I have to be comfortable with who I am and no certificate or surgical procedure will change that. I found out who I am. I am where I am. I am the girl I want to be. I’m living who I am now. I’m now ready to be myself, to be who I am all the time.
I pickled beetroot because it’s one thing that I’ve loved all my life. I mightn’t have always loved myself but I’ve always loved beetroot. I realise now I don’t try to be anything other than myself. I proud of myself. I found out who I am. I am the girl I want to be.
I suffered a very severe emotional neglect as a child. In adulthood, I coped by being a workaholic – until the wheels came off the Toni machine. I was depressed, fatigued, anxious and had a relationship breakup. I was broke and I was homeless. I went to live at the Catholic Parish in Collingwood and started volunteering at the Fire Museum. I was the curator. Part of my role was to help pull stories together about firefighting.
The I joined a self-help group called GROW. Part of their process is to share your story. The work at the Fire Museum and GROW helped me to realise I had a story to tell and that other people found it interesting.
I started sharing my story publically. Telling my story built my sense of self. And then hearing other people’s stories made me realise I could get through this. I needed to understand what I needed to change – and then make the changes. The big change I needed to make was to transition. I just needed to be me instead of trying to be what everyone else expected me to be.
As I’ve got older I’ve started getting in touch with my feelings and learnt to stop worrying about what other people want me to be. I’m learning I don’t have to be hypervigilant about what is going on around me. The more counselling I’ve got, the stronger I’ve got. I’m learning about emotions and brain development. I’m learning to ask for help.
Since I retired have been doing about 40 hours’ volunteer work a week. I’m volunteering in areas I’m emotionally passionate about. I’m not working to meet someone else’s dreams. I feel very satisfied and very rewarded that I am working to improve other people’s lives through my volunteer work.
As I age I don’t worry about other people’s expectations too much. I don’t have a lot of money but I’m quite satisfied with what I’ve got and who I am. I’m not ashamed of who I am any more. I get some wry amusement about not justifying myself to other people. I’m just Toni. There is more colour in my life now. I am using colour. I’m not wearing someone else’s ‘uniform’ or colours. I feel free.
Strawberries are my favorite fruit – and the red reminds me of my work at the Fire Museum, where I first started to realise I had a story to tell. I don’t worry about other people’s expectations too much anymore. I’m not ashamed of who I am any more. I feel free.