“I recall immense satisfaction when I saw my research was being used as the supporting documentation for cutting-edge UN recommendations on trans issues.”

Four or five year-old Amy McCarthy could have not dreamed that she would be someone who would be making changes later in life that would be recognised by an intergovernmental organisation. 

A trans woman from the Central Coast of New South Wales, who whilst studying her Bachelor of Music and Sydney University in 2019, is now working her way through a United Nations Diploma.  

During her music degree Amy started the medical part of transition, where she would experience the juggling of not only study, like every other tertiary student, but a change in life of how others perceived her identity. 

Through this experience where others would just focus to get through their education, Amy went leaps and bounds to do something extra, not just for her but for the trans community. 

During her studies she joined the University of Sydney Pride Network Steering Committee, when she helped to instigate important changes on the campus such as developing a training program for LGBTQI Student Support Liaison Officers, the rolling out of gender transitioning guidelines across the University and educating resident assistants at the University’s colleges about gender and sexual diversity. 

Amy’s hard work was noticed, and she was invited halfway around the world to New York by Dr Elizabeth Coombs for discussions with some of the world’s leading policymakers and researchers in human rights, gender equality, privacy and data protection law. 

Dr Coombs is best known in New South Wales as the Privacy Commissioner and is currently the chair for the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right To Privacy’s Task force on ‘Privacy and Personality’.

Star Observer spoke with the trailblazing Amy.  

“I have spent my holidays organising outfits and catwalks for Miss Trans Global, an international beauty pageant that has been both a terrifying experience working towards, but also a rewarding one.

“After a slate of bad experiences with my transition I felt like I needed to engage in advocacy so that awareness can be raised for the magnitude of hardship trans people face in every country around the world. I started doing research at Sydney Uni on the statistics of trans exclusion and well being, before looking globally at perspectives all around the world so that I could see what would work best at an international level. My research was used by the United Nations as the academic reference of their newest OHCHR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights] report, Privacy – A Gender Perspective. Now I write the occasional research article and try to focus on spreading the information from my surveys as widely as possible, so that everyone can see the situation authentically. 

“This is only the beginning of my hopes of spreading awareness on this issue. I am also very motivated by the positive changes that have come about my advocacy, and I hope to keep pushing for understanding at every level. Later in July I am giving a plenary talk to USYD’s pharmacology students on trans health and well being, and earlier last year my research was presented at a large STEM conference. On top of engaging with educational opportunities to discuss trans identity at a high level, I plan to continue being involved in disseminating this information as widely as I can, in the hopes that someone can learn something from it.”

Amy finished our interview with, “I know that there is a lot of controversy swirling around at the moment about comments made by J.K. Rowling, so I wanted to talk about research and advocacy. I ask that any readers approaching the debate exercise mindfulness and impartiality when gathering sources and information. I have made research that tackles almost every issue she has raised, but her powerful status commands a lot of respect from fans. Please make sure the information you gather is a product of careful and well-meaning education, and not a product of fear mongering and anecdotal evidence. Education is the biggest key to consolidating trans acceptance, and I hope that anyone reading this can be amply equipped when they close this tab and face the world once again. Every little act of support helps improve the quality of life for all trans people, so I thank you for taking an amazing first step and reading this article.”  

It seems that Amy is only just breaking the ice for the community and has a lot more to come in the future. 


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