In November it is a very special time for the transgender community because during this month is Transgender Awareness Week which leads into Transgender Day Of Remembrance. 

Transgender Awareness Week is a week where the trans and gender diverse community is celebrated, along with educating others from outside of the community, the importance of being an ally to the community and events for the community, about the community and what being an ally means. 

The week runs from November 13-19. Throughout the week the events and conversations that take place pay respect to the trailblazers throughout history who have fought for trans rights, and honour people who have lost their lives due to violence and discrimination.

Star Observer spoke with Dr Belinda Chaplin from NTAHC (Northern Territory Aids and Hepatitis Council) who said, “Trans Awareness Week is an important week in the trans and/or gender diverse calendar because it raises the visibility of trans and/or gender diverse people around the world.  It is about educating, celebrating, raising awareness, advocating, sharing stories of our lives, experiences, successes, and community. Feeling good about your life experiences and celebrating gender euphoria (that feeling of being totally affirmed in your gender) is an important aspect of trans visibility.

The pandemic for many trans and/or gender diverse people has had a negative impact on their mental health and levels of psychological distress, especially in lockdown situations. We did not experience the same levels of distress in the NT because of the very low number of cases diagnosed, and we had no community transmission, so our lives were less disrupted than other states and territories.”

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 In the Northern Territory there is another level of importance around bringing awareness to the trans and gender diverse community as it has a large population of Aboriginal people who are the sister girls and brother boys. 

“The intersection of being an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and trans and/or gender diverse presents its own complexities, which may also be coupled with living remotely. There are still problems with the incarceration of sister girls and an outdated NT Corrections Transgender Policy which is not publicly available for scrutiny.

“The one most important factor facing trans and/or gender diverse people is the lack of affordable and accessible health care, especially in rural and remote regions of the NT. We have some services in the Darwin region, but services beyond that are very limited or non-existent. One good thing was the modernisation of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2018, which made it easier to amend gender markers while still maintaining appropriate checks and balances.

“As part of the LGBTI Living Well program, which has only been recently launched at NTAHC, we offer a range of services which continue to grow. We provide education and training for clinicians and other organisations on appropriate interactions with trans and/or gender diverse people. We are conducting, through NT Government grants, a couple of different projects with the sister girls at the moment to improve their access and healthcare pathways, and also to empower their voices. We offer referral pathways for trans and/or gender diverse people, and importantly, we offer social and emotional wellbeing through community connections. Our services will grow over time including the development of resources,” said Dr Chaplin. Societal attitudes towards trans and/or gender diverse people needs continuous improvement. The intersection of the personal, social, medical and legal selves signifies the complex everyday existence of trans and/or gender diverse people as they attempt to lead a life that strives to be unremarkable, but is socially constructed as remarkable.”

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 Along with NTAHC, over in NSW The Gender Centre are supporting the trans and gender diverse community by holding an event on Friday, November 20 at 7pm for the Transgender Day Of Remembrance. 

Lincoln James who is a trans masculine man from Melbourne said, “Transgender Awareness Week for me is to encourage everyone that we’re just people, who want to live a happy, healthy life just like everyone. It’s a time to share my lived experiences as an open trans man. It is important now more than ever before in times of this global crisis that we all stand together, to help lift each other up and to let every single person know they are NOT alone in this. 

“The trans community is extremely important to me. I found my sense of self in this community and now I want to give back to my community. It is a small community in the sense of the entirety of the LGBTQI space. So for me my voice needs to be a little louder so people can hear us. We need more funding and support services for ample doctors, psychologists, counselling services and ample endocrinologists available.”

Another person from the community who has taken it a step higher is singer/songwriter trans woman Cassy Judy. 

“For Trans Day Of Remembrance, I recorded a song with an incredible trans artist Alison Gould called We Remember Them. Alison plays flute, guitar and backing vocals. As a musician, it’s incredible to see the musical and performative talent that exists within our community. With ACON and TPA we did the first Trans and Gender Diverse Photoshoot and I’ve followed that up with a Trans Girlz Calendar for 2021. $5 from each sale will go to ACON. So, I like to think that those initiatives were very fun and nice experiences for all involved and I can’t wait to connect with more folk from our community to do more fun visual and musical projects!”

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