A group of older trans people have met in Melbourne to share their stories in an innovative way: using food.

The Abundance project brought together trans and gender diverse people to make preserves alongside text and photos to share their experiences.

The recent first workshop to create a ‘story pantry’ allowed participants to create a preserve and tell their story.

“The story pantry idea came from the research on rights violations,” said organiser Catherine Barrett of Celebrate Ageing.

“People told us there was a need for hope and a need to celebrate their own identities in a world that is transphobic.”

Participant Sally Conning chose to preserve beetroot as part of her contribution to the story pantry.

“I pickled beetroot because it’s one thing that I’ve loved all my life,” she said.

“I mightn’t have always loved myself but I’ve always loved beetroot. I realise now I don’t try to be anything other than myself.

“I am proud of myself. I found out who I am. I am the girl I want to be.”

Fellow participant Toni Paynter chose strawberries.

“Strawberries are my favourite fruit – and the red reminds me of my work at the Fire Museum, where I first started to realise I had a story to tell,” she said.

“I don’t worry about other people’s expectations too much anymore. I’m not ashamed of who I am any more. I feel free.”

A second workshop will be held on October 22, allowing intergenerational pairs of people to create preserves representing what they love about their lives.

“Every trans and gender diverse person should come to one of these,” said one participant.

The Abundance project is part of the Victorian Seniors Festival, celebrating the diversity of older people in the community.

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