Since its formation 19 years ago, Sally Goldner has been at the forefront of advocacy and leadership as a co-founder of Transgender Victoria (TVG), the leading body for trans and gender diverse advocacy, training and resource development in the state.
She recently stepped down from an active role on the TGV committee, reflecting on why she needed to step aside, and take some space for herself.
“When the AGM nominations came, I just couldn’t find the passion,” Goldner told the Star Observer.
“I couldn’t see myself there in twelve months time. I felt it was better to get out of the way and get some fresh energy in.”
“The biggest reason was the lateral hostility I felt I was copping from all sides. Not only from privileged cisgender gay men, but because now that I am in my early 50s, I must be youth phobic as well. I felt like it just wasn’t right.”
Finally seeing birth certificate reform in Victoria brought a huge sense of relief for many who’ve spent years fighting for their documents to affirm their gender identity. But that hasn’t lessened the transphobia many continue to experience daily, even within our own communities.
“19 years ago trans people had very little visible within the rainbow communities, and we were often completely left out,” Goldner said.
“But that visibility hasn’t come without a price. One being the recent backlash and attacks from The Australian, who focus on trans people because they know they can’t really get at lesbians and gays anymore.”
“The combination of misogynism, transphobia and biphobia I experienced was overwhelming. Not only were we not receiving elevation and support when we need it, we have also been outright under attack from other so-called inclusive LGBT organisations.”
“One wrote to us asking for their resource to be on our website so that they could become the go to trans organisation. Which implies that we can’t do anything for ourselves. That’s what I mean by lateral hostility. Total disrespect and less than equal attitudes towards trans.”
When TGV formed in the 90s to advocate and educate, only three groups provided support for Transgender Victorians. Now, support and medical organisations exist in regional and rural areas, providing greater support for those that need it. While TGV has continued their work, maintaining this has taken a toll.
“As I exit this particular door, I am going to ask the community, both individuals and organisations in positions of influence – to reflect strongly on being respectful and open to feedback,” Goldner said.
“Because often, when it comes from those in positions of prominence and are not really putting into practice their terms about respect and diversity and inclusivity, it is not a good look.”
“I think we have some reflecting to do as a community. Because we just keep building on a foundation of sand rather than building on solid foundations. It would be a nice image to put the fundamentalist religious types, the right wing politicians and media shock jocks into a big locked TARDIS and send them off to the end of the universe. But it’s not going to happen. We can’t control them, but we can control our own backyard. It feels very frustrating that we don’t do this enough.”
“I reflected on this during the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. I realised that the same patterns keep happening to us 50 years on. While we are very slowly moving forward and changing that pattern, I think we could accelerate moving forward and do more good.”