From 29 countries, out of 600 entries, the award for the Australian Book Review Calibre Essay Prize goes too… Dr Yves Rees! 

The Australian Book Review Calibre Essay Prize is a competition where essayists are invited to submit essays which are between 2000 and 5000 words in length and of all kinds. 

Dr Rees, who is a history lecturer at La Trobe University submitted an essay called, Reading The Mess Backwards, a story about the messiness of bodies, gender and identity over time and life, into transitioning at the age of 31. 

The Star Observer spoke with Dr Rees post award.

“What inspired to me to write this piece, was my reading. When I first came out as transgender I was really terrified and alone and was constantly scouring the internet, reading every kind of trans-masc or non-binary blog I could find but there was a limited array of books or readings available. These are what I feel really saved my life, gave me a sense of community, belonging, made me feel less crazy.

 “One thing that I noticed about coming out as transgender, is that is was a terrifying moment, where I know I needed emotional support in my life. Even though I had amazing friends and family, they are all cisgendered and they didn’t understand it at the time and were all dealing with their emotions around it all.”

Dr Rees went on to say that they did not expect to win the prize at all, they have had amazing feedback from others around broadening perspectives of transition and that they also acknowledge that they are of privilege and that their story is different. 

Dr Rees also added that the future of equality in Australia is impacted from the past in the way this land was founded on oppression, when the First Fleet came and stole the land we call Australia. With this happening and creating a hierarchical system, the oppression trickles through in other ways to other minorities of this country. But there is hope, we as Australians need to grapple with our past, realise how this country was founded through violence, stop deluding ourselves about the happy, fair-go society that it is, as this is vital to create a more equal and more just society.

The prize that was one for the essay was $5000, and the runner-up Kate Middleton with the piece around a personal account with illness The Dolorimeter, winning $2500. 

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