Carmen from Tess

A PIONEER and icon during her life on both sides of the Tasman, the past weekend marked the second anniversary of trans* activist and entrepreneur Carmen Rupe’s death.

Rupe died aged 75 at St Vincent’s Hospital on December 15, 2011. Surrounded by loved ones, she succumbed to kidney failure following hip surgery and months of poor health after a fall at her Darlinghurst home.

Born in New Zealand, Rupe (pictured) first came to prominence in the early 1960s as a nightclub showgirl, and during her life she was a nurse, soldier, waiter, sex worker, nightclub owner, businesswoman, and mayoral candidate.

To celebrate her life, a special brunch organised by the Carmen Rupe Memorial Trust was held on Sunday at the Surry Hills Community Centre. The trust was established following Rupe’s death, in accordance with her wishes, to help support and empower the trans* community.

Spokesperson Kelly Glanny said Rupe continued to be an inspiration.

“Carmen was a trans* trailblazer par excellence,” Glanney said.

“Living out and proud long before most of us ever dreamed it was possible – constantly challenging the status quo and lighting the way for all of us who’ve followed in her glittering footsteps.

“Carmen was a fearless campaigner for social justice who had a heart of gold, remaining deeply humble and compassionate towards others despite the many traumas she lived through.”

INFO: For more information on the Carmen Rupe Memorial Trust, call 0452 454 965 or visit the CRMT Facebook page.

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