MardiGrasA TRANS*, intersex and queer working group has been established by Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in the lead-up to this year’s festival to create greater visibility and inclusion.

The group was set up after Mardi Gras organisers were inspired by Carmen Rupe Memorial Trust’s activities during last year’s festival.

“Since speaking at the launch of the Carmen Rupe Memorial Trust during the 2013 festival, I’ve learned quite a lot about the historical marginalisation of [trans*, intersex and queer] people within our broader community,” Mardi Gras co-convener Paul Savage said.

“Those insights have helped co-convenor Siri Kommedahl, the Mardi Gras board and myself develop a much better understanding of this history and through that, a deeper commitment to ensuring Mardi Gras provides greater opportunity for [trans*, intersex and queer] participation moving forward.”

The group is currently leading trans*, intersex and queer diversity training for Mardi Gras volunteers and medical staff ahead of the festival and working with Mardi Gras’ creative team to produce a float that will make a clear statement about the importance of their inclusion in this year’s parade on March 1.

Kelly Glanney, who helped launch the CRMT, said Mardi Gras provided a powerful platform for trans, intersex and queer communities to express themselves and share their stories.

“That ownership and creative control comes through active participation – rather than simply criticising and refusing to participate as some of us have historically chosen to do, the best way to effect change is to get involved,” she said.

“That’s why we’d love to see more trans, intersex, queer and other gender diverse people getting involved in Mardi Gras on all levels – as volunteers, members, content producers and consumers of the amazing array of experiences on offer during the Festival.”

On Sunday CRMT will hold a Mardi Gras Engagement Day barbecue at its Surry Hills headquarters with the event to allow further discussion.

INFO: Mardi Gras Engagement Day is on January 19, 11am-3pm at 320 Riley St, Surry Hills. Visit the Working Group’s Facebook page here.

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