Eleanor Lister, transgender rights advocate and general supporter of humanitarian issues, died last week after a long battle with throat cancer.

A public wake held yesterday at 2pm at the Bank Hotel in Newtown drew mourners from far and wide to share their memories of Lister’s character and public work.

Lister was best known for her political work with the Greens Party. Joining with the Greens out of a sense of outrage over the Tampa affair, Lister went on to help establish the GLBTI Committee and continued through all her work to make sure that transgender issues remained on the agenda.

She was always ready to speak out on behalf of the transgender community, and many considered her greatest achievement was her work in establishing The Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Lister was also never afraid to criticise it either. In a piece she wrote for SSO in November 2007, Lister adamantly opposed those from the transgender community who sought to avoid being considered a part of the gay and lesbian community.

When we are all being called freaks, when we are all supposedly going to hell on the same train, what is the point of fighting amongst ourselves? After we get our freedom we can then say, -˜I have nothing in common with you.’

Greens GLBT spokesperson Ray Goodlass was a long-time friend and colleague of Lister. He said what he and others will most remember about Lister, besides her activism work, would be her sense of humour.

She was a larger than life figure, who had quite a whimsical approach to life and a great sense of humour, he told SSO.

I remember when that politician [Israeli MP, Shlomo Benizri] accused gay people of causing earthquakes. Eleanor instantly sent round an email to everyone on the Greens GLBT mailing list just saying, -˜Did the earth move for you?’

She was an incredibly warm person, she greeted everyone with a kiss, and she was also incredibly courageous. Even when she was sick, she never complained about anything. She was just so courageous.

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