ON February 26, a tall, graceful woman enraptured the packed audience within Sydney’s Seymour Centre. Invited as one of the inaugural speakers of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ Queer Thinking: Gender Trailblazers project, Lieutenant-Colonel Catherine “Cate” McGregor enthralled with stories about her transition, the growing acceptance and promotion of diversity within the Australian Defence Force and her encyclopaedic knowledge of cricket for well over an hour.  Alongside fellow speaker Chaz Bono, Cate McGregor highlighted the deep and rich contribution that gender diverse people could make to modern society.

But while the primary speechwriter for the Chief of the Australian Army may appear to have it all, her willingness to describe her darkest fears and public experiences showcased the fact that she was just as mortal as the rest of us.  From dealing with the Jedi Council and various Australian Defence Force Academy scandals, through to experiencing the deeply-emotional act of transitioning while living in the public eye with the support of her courageous former wife Tritia, Cate McGregor ensured that there was an insightful and educative profile of humanity present throughout the event, which the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras rarely rarely sees.

While Cate McGregor and Chaz Bono both received numerous rounds of applause and calls of support during the intermission throughout the night, perhaps the largest and longest display of public appreciation came when the event’s compère Dr Elizabeth Riley asked Cate McGregor to explore what the concepts of masculinity, femininity and gender meant to her personally.

“I don’t know how any other man feels, I don’t know how any other woman feels… I only know what Cate McGregor feels,”was her reply that brought most of the people to their feet.

Not to be outdone, Queer Thinking – Gender Trailblazers’ other feature speaker Chaz Bono also entranced the crowd with stories surrounding both his life in the public spotlight due to being the only child of both Sonny Bono and Cher, while being one of the principal advocates of Transforming Families, a trans*-focused family support group based in Los Angeles.

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You can listen to the event’s podcast:

CLICK HERE for the Chaz Bono and Cate McGregor’s Q&A

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