A new transgender support group has been set up in Melbourne.
VicGender was established five months ago and aims to be “practical rather than political” by providing financial and mentoring assistance for people undergoing gender transition.
VicGender president Melissa Star said the group will offer financial support by establishing a fundraising program for people who wish to have gender reassignment surgery but cannot afford it.
“It’s often when people find themselves in difficult financial spots, on top of the huge pressures associated with transitioning that they need help,” Star said.
Star said people going through a “gender crash” — where they can no longer emotionally live in their current body — and haven’t planned for surgery costs were most at risk.
“Sometimes people plan and have a very coherent strategy for how they do their transition, with the funding in place, but if they do it quite young or they get to a point where they psychologically cannot cope with their lives and have to have surgery immediately, that’s more difficult,” she said.
Gender reassignment surgery can cost upward of $12,000 for male-to-female transition and usually more for female-to-male. Costs can increase if surgery is performed overseas with flights and accommodation to be factored in.
VicGender also offers informal crisis accommodation — in members’ spare bedrooms — for anyone who finds themselves homeless as a result of transitioning or merely expressing a desire to transition.
“Quite often people may have the resources to find a place, but they are so shell-shocked it’s difficult to organise, and especially with some of the younger kids they may not even have the resources and end up on the street,” Star said.
“It’s a very unfortunate reality — it’s becoming less common than it was 20 years ago but it’s still very common.”
It’s also the little things that help people in the transition phase, Star said, like teaching someone how to present themselves, helping buy suitable clothes or giving advice on changing names.
VicGender meets once a month.
info: For assistance or to join the group, contact 9001 0250 or [email protected]