TRANS advocate Sally Goldner and ally Lyn McDonald are establishing a new support group in Melbourne for families and friends of trans people who come out over the age of 25.
Called Transfamily, the group has come out of Goldner and McDonald’s participation in the Opening Doors program, a leadership course promoting social inclusion run by Melbourne-based Inner East Primary Care Partnership.
While Goldner has been involved in trans advocacy and activism in Melbourne for years, most recently as Transgender Victoria’s executive director, McDonald’s experiences were as the mother of a trans woman.
She told the Star Observer her daughter had been a married man with children when she came out to her family as a woman.
“From a distance it seems like, so what? But when it’s your family member it’s a different story, particularly when they’re older… it’s a transition for us as well,” she said.
McDonald hoped the support group would help prevent families from rejecting their kids who come out as trans later in life.
“If we can say, hey, it’s okay really, it’s not the end of the world, and just listen to what they’re feeling like in the beginning and help them get through that, perhaps they can bring themselves to not reject their child, to accept them as a human being and someone who belongs in their family and is part of their family,” she said.
Goldner explained their decision to target the group at trans people over 25:
“There is more expectation built up around someone’s gender when they come out later. So for parents in particular, that can be a shock,” she said.
“I know from my experience it was just not on my parents radar to any degree, it took them some time and I think that’s typical of a lot of people out there.
“Yes, youth need support and seniors need support, but I think we also need to remember that in some aspects the families and others around a trans person at any age are still needing a lot of support, too.”
Opening Doors project officer Alex Mills said although the program has been running for five years, this was the first time an LGBTI-focused project had come out of it.
“It was really last year that I started to think, we really need to do something in this area because it can be a precluding factor to being socially included,” Mills said, hoping other projects from people in the LGBTI community would be a part of Opening Doors going forward.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the support group, which plans to hold its first meeting in January.