Forty-eight year old Suzanne Stojanovic, Maroondah’s new councillor, admits she grew up with a “very binary understanding” of gender and sexuality. She had to confront those learnings when her child came out as a non-binary transperson. That set the single parent to four children on her own path of discovery to come out as a gender fluid and pan sexual person.

“I grew up and spent most of my adult life with a very binary understanding of gender and more delineated understanding of sexuality. The new language makes more sense to me, and I have come to think of myself as gender fluid and pan sexual,” Stojanovic told Star Observer after winning the council elections to the Maroondah council from the McAlpin Ward. Stojanovic is among the 29 openly LGBTQI candidates elected to local councils across Victoria in the polls held in October 2020.

Stojanovic credits her child’s coming out with helping her navigate beyond the binary definitions of gender and sexuality. “I live in a part of Melbourne that statistically has declared itself predominantly heterosexual, but my child came out at school, changed name and pronouns and was immediately supported and these changes were embraced. They were even given a celebratory cake, which I was very relieved and happy about,” said Stojanovic, who sought permission from her child before sharing this story.

Though she had no information available in Maroondah, Stojanovic said she had a lot of “support in understanding how best to support my child through Knox City council.” And, “Schitts Creek was a revelation,” she cites the multi-Emmy winning Canadian show that had a pansexual lead character.

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 With the elections behind her Stojanovic is looking forward to focusing on the issues that she promised her voters. “I am grateful to the residents of McAlpin Ward, Maroondah for putting their faith in me to represent their voice and serve them on council for the next four years. I stood on a platform of gender equity, inclusion and prevention of gender-based violence, and intend to work on these issues.”

Stojanovic is also hoping to push for greater inclusivity in the council to remedy the gaps that she found when her own family was dealing with the coming out process.

“What I hope to bring to my role is greater visibility and inclusion of LGBTQI voices, services and events to Maroondah. I want everyone to feel safe to be who they are.  We have a gender clinic in Ringwood East. They were due to be fully set up this year, but COVID-19 may have delayed things. I have to check in with them to see how they’re travelling. This will make a big difference to LGBTQI community in the outer east in terms of accessibility to HRT, for example.”

Next on her list is to spread some rainbow cheer in the community. “I’d love a couple of rainbow pedestrian crossings in Maroondah. Rainbows are happy things, and send a clear signal of inclusion and love. But most of all, I want LGBTQI residents to get in touch and let me know what they want to see in Maroondah. We are a diverse community, so we need a diversity of voices to speak up.”

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