UPDATE: Cate McGregor has apologised to the National Australia Day Council and David Morrison and withdrew her remarks in a series of tweets. [See below.]

TRANS advocate and 2016 Australian of the Year finalist Cate McGregor believes the new Australian of the Year, David Morrison, has a lot to learn when it comes to LGBTI issues.

Lieutenant General Morrison was awarded the nation’s top honour on the night before Australia Day for being a diversity champion and his commitment to gender equality in the Australian Defences Force (ADF).

[showads ad=MREC] In 2012, the former army chief also refused to accept McGregor’s resignation when she decided to transition and encouraged her to remain in the Army.

Despite his win, McGregor — who was named Queensland Australian of the Year — believes he has a way to go in understanding LGBTI issues. However, she said she was willing to work with him to develop his knowledge.

“He’s on a steep learning curve when it comes to LGBTI and trans issues, he needs to learn a lot and rapidly,” McGregor told the Star Observer.

In media interviews following his win, McGregor said Morrison “dead-named” her — referring to McGregor by her former male name — and used the wrong pronouns but she does not believe it was malicious.

“It shows a lack of skill on trans issues, he didn’t do intentionally… but that showed a clunkiness he needs to learn,” she said.

While she congratulated Morrison on winning the top honour and said he would do a good job in living up to it, McGregor felt sad she wasn’t named Australian of the Year not only for herself but for the wider trans community.

“I felt sad for two reasons, one was I like to win things,” she said.

“I felt really sad that they (National Australia Day Council) did not have the courage to go with an LGBTI person.

“I thought it was time… it was a weak and conventional choice.

“I think I’ll die without seeing a trans Australian of the Year and I think that’s terribly sad.”

Looking forward, McGregor will move into her trans advocacy role on a full-time basis after informing the ADF that she will be retiring.

“I have found it difficult to manage my day job and so I decided to go full-time with advocacy and community work,” she said.

“I want to do justice to my Queenslander of the Year role.

“I got allocated that state and I feel an obligation to Queensland generally and to LGBTIQ people in that state.”

Shortly after the news broke of her comments about the National Australia Council, McGregor took to Twitter to apologise to both the board and Morrison in a series of tweets:

Other LGBTI people to receive an honour on Australia Day was Sydney-based community advocate Bruce Pollack, who was named a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the community in the areas of social welfare and public health.

Pollack told J-Wire the award was “a wonderful recognition of the work I have done within and for the gay community”.

The founder of the Australian Defence Force’s LGBTI personnel group, DEFGLIS, Warrant Officer Stuart O’Brien, was also awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his long standing meritorious services to the Navy.

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