(Being trans*) means living as my truest self but also figuring things out along the way, both of which are amazing.
31 March marks Trans Day of Visibility, an annual international celebration of trans* pride and awareness, recognising Trans and gender diverse rights, experiences and stories.
This is Thy O'Donell's story.
Thy, a Health and Wellbeing Support Officer at ANU Counselling and Wellbeing, began his transition in 2019, after toying with the idea of his gender and being unsettled with it since he was a pre-teen.
"I like to joke that it started with GEND1001 here at ANU when I was an undergrad, and first came across some of the broader terminology and heard other people's experiences (there is some truth in this joke)," Thy said.
"I was so lucky to receive support and advice from fellow trans* folks that I met through university and work as well as at A Gender Agenda. These relationships really helped me with my (ongoing) journey, and I value them a lot."
For Thy, being trans means finding freedom.
"It means living as my truest self but also figuring things out along the way, both of which are amazing."
Nonetheless, Thy's journey hasn't always been smooth sailing.
"I think a lot of trans* and gender diverse folks will tell you that one of the biggest challenges is coming out to family and friends, and this was definitely a challenge for me."
Thy also found the bureaucracy of coming out to be quite challenging as well, particularly in a financial sense, as you often just want your desired result as soon as possible.
"There are so many forms to fill out! So many fees! It's a great idea to write a little checklist of places and things that you may need to contact in order to change your gender and name."
This Trans Day of Visibility, Thy is calling for all trans* and gender-diverse staff at ANU to reach out for support.
"There is an amazing community here on campus, as well as within Canberra that is here to support you and listen to you. I think it's important to also recognise that whilst this journey is about you and your identity, that you don't have to go at it alone and it's important to take your time - it's going to be a long (if not never-ending) journey, and you will discover so much about yourself along the way which is really fulfilling."
"It's going to be tough, but you are tougher."
Thy is also encouraging the wider ANU community to support trans* and gender-diverse staff and students by engaging in day-to-day practices.
"A beneficial thing to do is initiating a pronoun round (giving your name and pronouns) at the beginning of tutorials or within the workplace. This is such an easy way to show support and not marginalise people who are already part of a minority group," Thy said.
"I definitely think that the resources that ANU Ally Network and the ANU Queer* Department have are also something that more members of the ANU Community should tap into and continue to engage with. It's all well and good to tick off that you've done the training, but you must keep showing up."
Come and celebrate Trans Day of Visibility at ANU!
There will be free food, good company and so much pride ️
When: Friday 31 March, 3-5pm
Where: Marie Reay - Ground Floor Kambri
Who: This event is open to all ANU staff, students and alumni
Have you considered joining the ANU LGBTIQA+ Ally Network? Show your support for Thy and others by joining a group of staff and students across campus who are committed to providing an inclusive and respectful environment for people who identify as LGBTIQA+.
Sign up for the LGBTIQA+ Ally Training, a free 90-minute training session that is available to all ANU students and staff. It aims to equip participants with knowledge and skills to create an inclusive culture for all LGBTIQA+ staff and students and be an effective ally within the ANU community.
Note on language/terminology used: The term "trans*" is used throughout this article as it encapsulates the umbrella term of "transgender" which can encompass a large array of terminology that transgender and gender diverse people use.