THE Australian trans* community is mourning the loss of Kathy Anne Noble, described as a passionate and courageous “icon” who worked intensely behind the scenes advocating for trans* rights, following her death last week in Brisbane.
Noble — who also founded the trans* resource Changeling Aspects, and authored the book Two Lives: A Transsexual’s Story and the Fight for Recognition — was seen as a leading figure in the national trans* community, committed to ensuring it had a voice in the broader LGBTI and Australian community.
“I was just amazed with Kathy being 80, showed so much energy and the principles and a very thoughtful, kind person. She had been doing work right back to her transition just after 2000,” Mansfield told the Star Observer.
“I was aware of Kathy’s work through her book prior to meeting her but it was seeing her in person where I saw her ideals and her remarkable persistence.
“Over the past few weeks before she passed we were having frequent Skype calls for about an hour, working through some of her vision for our community.”
Much of Noble’s work in legislative circles was highly-regarded, according to Mansfield.
“I don’t think many in the community are aware of the work Kathy did behind the scenes with government departments right around Australia, in speaking to support our right to exist,” she said.
“She is referred to by these departments as I guess one of the elder stateswomen in Australia for the trans* community.
“She had a grand vision to have the equivalent of a Bill of Rights for trans* and gender-diverse folk in Australia. We had a shared vision that although we are a part of the broader village of the LGBTIQ structure, she stressed the importance of [the gender diverse community] having a distinct voice of our own.
“She was doing a lot of the hard yards as I would see it, documenting information from all around the world. She had contacts pretty much all over the world, working legislation and regulation behind the scenes.
“Very few people in my experience and life have either the tenacity or the deeper understanding of the strategic importance of things like a Bill of Rights.”
Mansfield acknowledged that while some disagreed with Noble’s methods or approach to trans* rights, few could dispute her passion.
“The thing that we’ve lost I guess is an icon,” Mansfield said.
“She was very enthusiastic but she was an extremely well-informed member of the community. That’s what we’ve lost.
“I’ve lost a friend and someone that both supported my quest to help our community gain a voice it in its own right.”
News of Noble’s passing took many by surprise, including Mansfield who was hoping to see her talk at a recent conference in Canberra.
“I was knocked for six because I had just returned from the Alliance Conference in Canberra where Kathy was going to present but illness took that opportunity away from her,” Mansfield said.
“[Her passing] was a real blow to me but I think it was a blow to the leadership of our community. She had visits from the Attorney General… for advice on our community and developed great contacts.
“She was just a really beautiful girl and I think she qualifies as an Australian pioneer for our rights.”
Writing in her diary published on Changeling Aspects about her transition, Noble said the experience had given her an opportunity to start a “second life”.
‘Transitioning was not about closing a book, a chapter maybe, but we have certainly opened a new chapter on life,” she wrote.
“This is the second life and I believe the one I always wanted.
“All my lady friends, which includes the hospital staff, say ‘you are woman, you are Kathy, go for it and enjoy her life to the fullest possible extent’. I can only promise that I will try. What happens at the end is in God’s hands.”
Noble’s memorial service will be held at 9am, Thursday August 27 at the Great Southern Memorial Park, 1774-1794 Mount Cotton Rd, Carbrook in Queensland. All friends and colleagues are welcome to pay their respects.