THIS month’s edition of the Women Say Something forums will include a trans woman for the first time, with army speechwriter Lieutenant Colonel Cate McGregor set to be part of the evening’s panel.

With a theme of Dancing On the Ceiling, the forum at Sydney Town Hall on Friday, February 28 will see a line-up including Lord Mayor Clover Moore and five-time Olympian Natalie Cook share dialogue and stories during a night of entertainment, film, music and fine food and wine.

McGregor is the most senior trans* within the Australian Defence Force and as well as being a personal friend of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, she is also regarded as a highly-respected writer on the sport of cricket.

As one of only six trans* people currently serving in the country’s armed forces, McGregor has played an instrumental role in army chief Lieutenant General David Morrison’s campaign to instil cultural change across the Defence Force, particularly in its treatment of women and LGBTI personnel.

Vince Chong, chair of DEFGLIS – the Defence Force’s internal LGBTI information service – told the Star Observer this week that McGregor was an inspiration to other serving LGBTI personnel and hopefully for many others in the wider community.

“It’s wonderful to have representation [at Women Say Something] from a transgender woman in Defence,” Chong added.

The Carmen Rupe Memorial Trust, which advocates for the greater visibility of trans women, believes the inclusion of McGregor on the female panel is a watershed moment on the acceptance of trans people in the feminist movement.

“Cate McGregor’s inclusion Women Say Something reflects shifting attitudes within the feminist community in recognising the legitimate contribution transgender women can make to the feminist cause,” spokesperson Caitiff Hall said.

“All too often, transgender women’s voices have been excluded from feminist forums so Cate’s inclusion will be inspirational for many transgender people who sadly, still remain highly marginalised and socially isolated within much of broader society.”

Women Say Something founder and artistic director, Steph Sands, said the latest event – which is part of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras season – would again seek to celebrate women such as McGregor who have been inspiring and successful in their chosen fields.

“It’s an empowering and entertaining event,” she said.

“People can hear individual stories and be inspired by other women who have ‘made it’ regardless of any adversity they have had to face along the way, while at the same time be entertained by women who use their voice in other ways such as music and lyrics.”

Other women who will take part in the panel discussion include Australian country music singer, Beccy Cole, while jazz performer, Libby O’Donovan, will take the stage alongside two-time Aria award winner Sally Whitwell, and performers Sexy Galexy and Martine Locke.

Insights on the evening are also expected to be provided from Recognise’s Tanya Hosch, wine maker Lisa McGuigan, and editor-in-chief of Curve Magazine, Merryn Johns.

INFO: Women Say Something: Dancing On the Ceiling’, 6.30pm, Friday, February 28, Sydney Town Hall. Tickets from $30 plus booking fee. To purchase, visit www.mardigras.org.au/events

 

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