We had the honour of chatting with a local
parent and bloody legend of an ally to the community, someone who works tirelessly advocating for change in policy in healthcare and education systems (to name a few).
Here’s what she had to say...
My pronouns are she/her, and I live in Brisbane where I’m a uni lecturer and an advocate for transgender, gender diverse and non-binary children and young people.
How did you find yourself as an ally of the LGBTIQ community?
I left Queensland when I was 18 in the mid 80s to travel – a clueless kid from the Gold Coast - and I ended up in an amazing share-house in an LGBTIQ+ neighbourhood in Vancouver. All those conversations around the dinner table, going out to bars, films and parties was like a crash course in politics, feminism, sexuality and gender expression. I had a few more years of travelling before I came back to Queensland where it was still illegal to be gay. After decades of conservative government, things were changing and I went to Queensland’s first Pride March in 1990. The laws changed the following year after years and years of activism and hard work from the LGBTIQ+ community. It was powerful for me to see that community activism and advocacy could bring about such huge and positive changes for people that I cared about deeply. I have a 14 year old trans daughter, so my allyship became a more urgent and focused part of my life when she transitioned five years ago.
What have been the most tricky landscapes to navigate as an ally?
I was really unprepared for how low some people will go to try to deny trans kids the right to live with respect and dignity. So it can feel like being constantly under siege if I engage with willfully and obnoxiously transphobic people too much. I try to keep my focus on the people and places where change is possible and where I can make a difference.
I guess something that makes it tricky as well is that my daughter very much supports the advocacy I do, but her choice is to be a very private person. And of course she’s in control of who she’s out to, and under what circumstances so sometimes I have to temper what I do and say as an advocate to protect her right to privacy. Sometimes people have a curiosity about her and want to know her story, but my goal is to improve services, policy and legislation for all transgender, gender diverse, Brotherboy and Sistergirl children and young people – not just my own kid.
Which services/people did you find the most helpful in the journey so far? What is out there for other parents to help support them?
Other parents of trans kids were our biggest support at first. Our kids, our families, our communities and schools - we’re all very different. So the wisdom of a diverse group of peers is amazing when you’re trying to find your way. My husband and I are peer supporters now, helping connect families with places like the Queensland Children’s Gender Service at the Children’s Hospital, the LGBTI Legal Service, Open Doors Youth Service, and the Human Rights Commission – and to link up with other parents.
Another huge help to me is to learn from the stories and histories of trans communities around the world and across different cultures and intersections.
I talk to my daughter about that knowledge, so she’s got a sense of her transcestors and the continuum of survival, joy, strength and liberation that she’s a part of.
What’s been the most unexpected aspect of this journey?
I naively assumed at first that any and every parent would naturally support their trans or gender diverse child. Knowing there are kids that don’t have the love of their families is heart breaking, but it’s also what drives me to be an advocate for kids - to help create amazing services for them, and to support their parents with the resources and information they need to stay grounded in love, and not fear.
What have you found most rewarding in terms of being a parent/ally?
It’s super-rewarding for me any time I see my daughter feeling pride in herself! I love seeing her grow into a strong, kind, smart young person, finding the confidence to explore her identity and express that in the most delightful ways – with humour, creativity, cheekiness, wisdom and a fabulous sense of style! She’s an absolute joy and is making the world a better place just by being in it and by being the awesome kid she is. I couldn’t be more proud of her. mic drop
Interview conducted April 2021. Image provided by the wonderful interviewee.