“Like other trans people in this country, we’ve still got a long way to go as far as acceptance. A lot of times we’re just tolerated.” – Lisa, a Sistergirl in her fifties from the Port Stephens area, who runs the Facebook group Sistergirls and Brotherboys Australia, as reported in the Star Observer, June 26.
Lisa goes on to say: Once upon a time, historically, we were very accepted and had a place in the community. I think with the introduction of colonisation and religion and other beliefs, a lot of that stuff has been lost”.
In the article, Lisa says she believes that discrimination is their biggest issue and cites examples of the difficulties they face in dealing with the police and medical services.
In PFLAG Brisbane’s June/July newsletter, Shelley Argent reports that more parents of trans youth are coming along to their meetings, some seeking support, others providing support. Shelley admires the attitudes of the parents, commenting:
“It’s a difficult path, but parents realise it isn’t about them, it’s about their children.” She quoted a parent of a trans child: “It’s better to have a live son, than a dead daughter and people who aren’t supportive of my child can go their own way.”
In talking to Helen Robertson, our Central Coast PFLAG group co-ordinator, I discovered that the majority of families attending their meetings are those with trans children. We are fortunate in Sydney to have a parent group attached to the Gender Centre in Annandale, so when we are contacted by families of trans children, I refer them on to this group, as I feel that their experiences would resonate more with them.
While Lisa, above, believes the introduction of religion may have been instrumental in forging a lack of acceptance of trans people in her community, we were very fortunate on July 11th to engage with a wonderful group of young youth workers who are working hard to redress the harm done by the old fashioned proselytizing methods of religious intervention.
PFLAG was invited to speak at a conference at Crosslands in Galston to 25 youth workers from an organisation called Fusion, which includes young people from a variety of Christian backgrounds, working around Australia to assist youth with mental health, LGBTIQ issues, homelessness etc. We were called in, as the youth workers were at their wits end in knowing how to deal with parents of LGBTIQ young people, who came from culturally and religiously diverse backgrounds and were concerned for the welfare of the young people. I would like to thank Pam & Arthur & Sue & Les, who made the trek out to Crosslands with us to interact with these inspirational young people. It certainly gave us a new perspective to see these young religious people demonstrating wholly accepting and compassionate attitudes to people who identify as LGBTIQ.
Another example of an inspirational religious advocate for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or gender diverse is Fr Peter Maher, the Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s, Newtown. Fr Peter has been PP since January, 1997 and will retire from parish duties on July 31, 2017. He has ministered to Sydney’s LGBTIQ community over this time, holding services for Acceptance Sydney every Friday night and has been a great advocate for their equal rights. He was featured in an article in the Sun-Herald on July 2.
There will be a Farewell Mass for Fr Peter Maher on Friday, July 28th @ 7pm at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Bedford St. Newtown, with a party in the Crypt afterwards. Acceptance Sydney has asked us to save the date for their Trivia Night on Saturday, August 26 @ 7pm in the Crypt of St. Joseph’s.
According to the Star Observer, marriage equality advocates are hopeful that a free vote for same-sex marriage will soon be allowed, after Liberal Senator Dean Smith confirmed that he is drafting a bill.
Senator Smith, who crossed the floor against the plebiscite bill in the Senate, has said he wants action on marriage equality before the next election, commenting:
“I am of the strong and clear view the matter should be discussed again and resolved before the end of this parliamentary year. I have been consistent and remain of the view the plebiscite lacks community support and a conscience vote is a tried and trusted method to resolve issues such as same-sex marriage. The bill will allow any two people to marry, while protecting religious freedom.”
Marriage equality advocate, Rodney Croome of just.equal hopes marriage equality could be on the horizon as early as August, when Parliament is due to sit again. Write to your MP and senators and tell them why you believe in marriage equality and why you’d like them to vote on this.
Ray & I addressed the Surry Hills branch of the Labor Party on June 27 as part of their discussion on marriage equality. Ray prepared a spreadsheet on how the Federal pollies stand on the issue and we explained why PFLAG wanted a free vote on the issue.
A very big thank you to the Three Sisters Social group from the Blue Mountains, who have generously donated $1900 to us to cover the total cost of the reprint of 10,000 of our PFLAG brochures. Their generosity will be acknowledged with their contact details on the brochures – Three Sisters Social group Inc. http://www.threesisterssocial.asn.au/
Many thanks to Ruth & Ron Green, whose strong social engagement with the LGBTI groups in the Blue Mountains, especially with the Three Sisters Social group, has initiated this very welcome donation. Thanks also to Ruth & Ron, who braved the elements, representing PFLAG with the Pink Mountains group in the Winter Magic Festival at Katoomba on June 24th.
PFLAG will have a stall at the Parramatta Pride Picnic on Sunday, October 29, 11am- 5pm, at the River Foreshore Reserve, Parramatta. Please save the date.
Thank you to everyone who made the effort to attend the Family meeting on June 24, to Ruth for facilitating and Pam & Arthur & Natalie who assisted in our absence. I hope to see many of you at the next Family meeting on Saturday, July 22nd, for as Rudy always said: “When you don’t need PFLAG anymore, that’s when PFLAG needs YOU to help others
Wear It Purple Day: Friday 25th August
Wear It Purple is an organisation run by Rainbow young people, for Rainbow young people. Inspired into action into 2010 by the suicides of several young people, Wear It Purple carries the message that Everybody has the right to be proud of who they are.
Events in Sydney this year will be held in Parramatta (previously in Hyde Park). NSW Police always has a big presence, and PFLAG will be there, also.
Watch this space:
Acceptance Sydney Trivia Night: Saturday 26th August
A fun-filled fancy-dress trivia extravaganza to help raise funds for Stanford House and Acceptance Sydney, with this year’s theme being The Elvis Era.
Be part of a great opportunity to support two great causes while having fun dressing up as your favourite Elvis era personality while enjoying being part of a trivia competition and of course dancing to the music of the Elvis Era.
There are prizes for the best dressed, best decorated table and the of course for the winners of the trivia competition.
Spaces are limited so please register your attendance or any questions you may have by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Funds raised help support Stanford House and Acceptance Sydney.
Since 1991, Stanford House has provided outreach support, respite accommodation and short-term supported accommodation for people living with HIV/AIDS as well as carers and family members. Acceptance Sydney is a welcoming ministry of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, their families and friends, affirming their dignity and Catholic faith. For more than a decade the parish of St Joseph’s Newtown has provided a ministry to LGBT Catholics.
Parramatta Pride Picnic October
Camp Out for LGBTIQ Youth: 3rd - 7th July
CAMP OUT offers the chance to attend an away-from-home camp with people who share similar experiences, offering a supportive and safe space to learn and express yourself, an opportunity for capacity building and a fun environment in which to do so.
Most of all, it's the chance to hang out in a place where you're not judged for who you are, or who you like.
There's heaps of art, music, sports, games and other fun stuff happening during camp, as well as hangouts like movie nights and bonfires!
As well as your more typical camp activities, there's open workshops and informal discussions on things like identity & what it means to be LGBTIQ-identified or questioning your gender or sexual orientation, dealing with homophobia & transphobia, coming out in highschool, coming out to parents or friends, and how to be an awesome LGBTIQ ally.
More details: http://campout.org.au/