My story: coming out as trans | Star Observer

My story: coming out as trans

To mark the end of Mental Health Week and yesterday’s National Coming Out Day, Marco Fink pens a piece in which she comes out as trans, after realising she is not alone and that support is always available.
Marco Fink — October 12, 2014
Marco Fink

YESTERDAY, I told the world that I’m a girl.

First, through a conversation with my parents, second by a Facebook post, and now via this article.

I’ve been thinking for a long time about the right way to talk to everyone about something so big. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of figuring out, but I’m ready and I want to be open and honest.

Growing up, everyone always said to “be a man” and others always told me I was a boy. Even though I didn’t always feel as though it really fit or felt right, I went along with it anyway.

As I got older I started to figure things out more. I was probably about 10 or 11 when I discovered the idea of a “transgender” person.

I was pretty freaked out. All the transphobia and horrible stereotypes I saw on TV and in movies had given me a pretty warped idea of what it meant to be trans*, and as an 11-year-old kid it was overwhelming. I hated it.

I buried my feelings and tried to make myself forget. It was the only way I could cope. I figured denial was easier, pretending I was fine and just forcing myself to power through. My logic was maybe if I ignored it and tried to force myself to “be a man”, maybe eventually I’d just “learn” to be like everyone else.

That didn’t work. Maybe for a few months, even sometimes a year or two, I’d be okay, but it would always come back. I’ve never been able to shake it.

When I was younger, I struggled with depression for many years, and like anyone battling mental health problems, I had some dark and low moments. Then one day one of my friends came out as a trans man. I’d met him through Minus18 a few years back at one of their summer social events. He was a year older than me and a close friend, I really looked up to him.

It was the first time I’d actually knowingly met another trans* person.

All the misconceptions I had about what it meant to be trans started melting away. My friend was still the same nice, kind, funny person as always. The only thing that changed was the name and pronouns we used when talking about him.

Up until that moment I hadn’t been able to accept myself. I had refused to accept myself because that meant admitting I was “different”. I thought it meant being alone. I thought it meant being excluded and mocked. But watching people love and accept my friend for who he was changed everything. It showed me how wrong I was about it all.

It hadn’t even occurred to me that my friends wouldn’t reject me, that society wouldn’t despise me, that my family would maybe even be able to accept me, just like his family did.

For LGBT youth it seems that that’s always the hardest part; feeling alone and isolated. So many people aren’t even aware of just how many other people are out there that can relate and share similar stories.

I found these stories by joining Minus18. It changed my life, and suddenly I was exposed to hundreds of other young people who “just got it”, who could help me through everything, and who would rebuild my confidence.

Marco Fink
Marco Fink

I finally worked up the courage to come out this week. I’d been waiting eagerly for National Coming Out Day.

My parents were shocked for sure, but they told me they loved me no matter what. The reactions on Facebook have been just as incredible. It’s been so freeing to finally be able to be myself and tell the world this is the girl I’m meant to be.

The sense of community and support Minus18 has given me has been enormous, and has provided that for thousands of other LGBT young people all over Victoria and Australia.

Sadly, the incredible support and love I’ve received by coming out as trans* isn’t the norm for Australian youth. With 66 per cent of gender-diverse and trans* young people experiencing transphobic abuse, there’s still such a long way to go before we can say they’re safe.

Minus18’s next big step, the Atrium, is a safe space where young people can meet other LGBT youth. It’s a space where young people come from all over Melbourne can come and be themselves. If I can provide just one more trans* young person with the amazing, supportive space that I was given, it’ll be the most incredible thing in the world.

Marco Fink is the Communications Manager at Minus18, Australia’s National Organisation for LGBT youth. She’s been involved with the organisation for four years, working on written resources, campaigns, and videos to help support LGBT young people like herself. Follow her on Twitter: @marcofink

CLICK HERE to make a donation to Minus18’s crowdfunding campaign for the Atrium.

Bent TV – Queer Young Thing: Religion and Queer Youth (Sep 2 2013)

Queer Young Thing

Monday September 02, 2013
Host: Dylan Adler

Topic: Religion and Queer Youth

Guests (Youth): Anthony, Sunny, Kassy
Guests (Elders): Matt Glover (MGA Counselling Services), Michael Barnett (Aleph Melbourne), Andrew Wheatland (The Spirit Lounge – Joy 94.9)

Segment One: Dylan introduces his youth guests, who discuss their individual experiences of religion, what it means to them, and issues and confrontations they have encountered in following their beliefs.

Segment Two: We watch a movie by Marco Fink from Minus18, Religion and Queer Youth

Segment Three: Our youth guests are joined by a group of elders, who assist in exploring further the panels combined experiences and questions of religion and its meaning to them, and the GLBTI community.

(YouTube: “QYT: Queer Young Thing – Religion, 02SEP13”)

SYN Media: GLBTIQ and multifaith opportunities

SYN Media has a vacancy for the Queer Youth on Air program that is set to get underway in 2013.
Are you curious about making radio and your own unique media?
Check out the exciting opportunity for same sex attracted and gender diverse young people at SYN.
Apply now!
this is a short extension to our previous deadline, so get your application in ASAP!
If you have any questions please email me anytime or call me on Tuesday 15 January 2013 on 9925 4192.

We are also holding an information session for the existing multifaith program, Unscriptured, on Wednesday 16 January 2013.

Interested young people aged 12 – 25 are invited to come along to an information session on Wednesday 16 January from 4pm at SYN.
To register, email access@syn.org.au
We would love you to join us at SYN so please feel free to call or email me to find out more.
kind regards,
Danae

Danae Gibson
Access Programming Coordinator
Student Youth Network Inc.

SYNMediaLearning2013
Book NOW for SYN Media Learning in 2013

Direct Line: 03 9925 4192
E-mail: access@syn.org.au  | Web: www.syn.org.au

LOW THINGS IN HIGH PLACES. | Mike Stuchbery

LOW THINGS IN HIGH PLACES.

Posted on February 10, 2012

Sometimes I wonder whether I’m coming on a bit too strong. I consider whether all the sturm und drang I create over bullying and religion in schools is all a bit too much. Maybe I’m seeing menaces and creeps where there’s really nothing at all.

Then I come across something like ‘The homosexual “anti-bullying” program for schools: an unconscionable strategem.’, as published in the Australian Family Association‘s journal.

It’s a journal article that directly tackles efforts within Australian schools – Victorian schools, specifically – to stamp out, amongst other kinds, bullying based on sexuality. It seeks to reveal it as ‘unethical’, ‘unconstitutional’, ‘professionally fraudulent’ and ‘scientifically spurious’.

Of course,  as the author notes, ‘it is totally and unmistakeably clear that the bullying of a child on any grounds is reprehensible and must be stopped‘, yet he insists that this notion must be uncoupled from what he considers the ‘unconscionable’ practice of informing kids that it’s okay to accept themselves and each other, regardless of sexuality.

He commences the main body of the paper with a rather odd digression into homophobia, and how poor oppressed bigots are now the ones being marginalized and diagnosed with a disorder.

He then spends a number of paragraphs discussing the Abrahamic faith’s notion of the soul, how it is thought to resemble God and how the sexual acts of adultery, incest, bestiality and homosexuality tarnish it.

He states that while each of these acts have phenomena that drive people to do them, they do not constitute a ‘moral permission’. Just because the Encyclopaedia Brittanica back in the 1960s stated that many American farm boys had sexual relations with an animal, he argues, it doesn’t mean that bestiality is something to be encouraged.

Thus, his logic runs, while many people have homosexual urges, we should not encourage people to give in to them.

He cites Genesis 2:24 as his prime piece of evidence, his coup de grace – that God’s final ruling on the issue of sexuality was that man should, ‘…leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife and become one flesh‘.

Our correspondent then attempts to argue that programs like the Safe Schools Coalition are unconstitutional. He states that any attempt to curb anti-gay bullying constitutes,’…a contradiction to the constitutional doctrine of this country.‘.

He takes separation of Church and State contained within our Constitution, and uses it to argue that any attempt to prevent religious persecution on  the grounds of sexuality to be a suppression of religious liberties.

Perhaps the most problematic, hateful and vile part of the article is when the author addresses what he calls the ‘professional & psychological impropriety‘ of the program.

He discusses the work of Evelyn Field, an expert on bullying whose philosophy on dealing with incidents of bullying is to ignore the issue at stake – obesity is an example he cites.

He then tries to uncouple the grounds for bullying from the emotions and morality behind it. Bullying itself, he believes is reprehensible. The emotions and beliefs behind it are not. In the author’s words, ‘The taunting and the bullying would be wrong. The grounds might have a moral content. Our civilization of thousands of years does not regard homosexual practice as normative, but as a moral wrong‘.

Our author believes that instead of helping children overcome bullying, GLBT antibullying projects can actually backfire. Here’s some gems that give an overview of his argument.

  • By calling on children to identify themselves sexually at young age (to lock themselves into a sexual identity in early or pre-adolescence), they seize upon an as yet fluid and unformed sexual identity.’
  • ‘The active acculturation of children – in an extremely fluid stage of their personal identity – into homosexuality is a profoundly disreputable professional practice.’
  • ‘The effect of this program is to cultivate homosexuality within a wide range of children who in the course of time and with the support of traditional values, could readily emerge from identity-uncertainty into traditional heterosexual roles.’
  • ‘The present program, working upon the fluid sexual identity of children, can only be to cultivate and extend homosexual conduct amongst many children who would otherwise be socialized into normal heterosexual conduct.’

Quite simply the author believes that these programmings are brainwashing kids gay

The author finishes his piece by stating that it is not the role of schools to try to interfere in the treatment of children with an illness. Homosexuality, you see, he believes is an illness.

He does this, in part, by citing the findings of the widely-discredited NARTH organization and essentially argues that rather than telling kids it’s okay to embrace who they are and how they feel, we should rather be trying to ‘cure’ them.

So, who is this author? A member of a fringe group? Someone involved in an extremist organization?

No, it’s Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen, of the Centre for Judaism and Civilization at Monash University. He’s the patron of the Australian Family Association, along with people like Margaret Court. He’s also the son of former Governor-General, Sir Zelman Cowen.

This organization is a powerful lobby group with the ear of government and the ability to make itself heard. It is a group that involves itself in the business of state, actively shaping policy.

It’s a group, yet again trying to force the most harmful aspects of religion into our state schools.

The Safe Schools Coalition that Dr Cowen so vehemently rails against is a world-class, world-reknowned experiment, a collection of schools actively and productively tackling homophobia. Kids aren’t being indoctrinated by ‘Big Gay’, they’re merely learning that it’s not cool to give someone a hard time based on who they love.

If you, like me, find it very troubling that people like Rabbi Dr Cowen are attempting to dismantle groups such as the Safe Schools Coalition, I encourage you to write to the Premier and let him know that this kind of rhetoric isn’t welcome when it comes to shaping educational policy.

The homosexual “anti-bullying” program for schools: an unconscionable strategem. – (AFA Journal Vol.32 No.2 2011 )

WARNING:  ALEPH MELBOURNE DISTANCES ITSELF FROM THE OFFENSIVE VIEWS HELD BY RABBI DR SIMON COWEN IN THIS ARTICLE.  THEY ARE DANGEROUS AND USE DISCREDITED RESEARCH.

The homosexual “anti-bullying” program for schools: an unconscionable strategem. – (AFA Journal Vol.32 No.2 2011 ).

For information on Safe Schools Coalition Victoria, refer to their web site: https://sscv.org.au

Gay youth: teaching the teachers | AJN

10 Feb 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition
PETER KOHN

Gay youth: teaching the teachers

IN JONATHAN Barnett’s eyes, the most important goal is for Jewish secondary school students “to feel wanted and part of the Jewish community”, irrespective of their sexual orientation.

“The consequences of not being welcomed by the Jewish community range from depression and psychiatric problems to suicide, and God forbid, that’s the last thing we ever want,” the American-born fire safety engineer told The AJN.

Barnett, who is gay, is the convenor of Keshet (Hebrew for ‘rainbow’), a group that seeks to train Jewish educators, youth leaders and rabbis so they can deal with senior school students who have identified with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) community.

Keshet Australia stems from the Keshet organisation in the United States, which has so far trained about 700 educators. There are plans now to incorporate Keshet Australia as a notfor-profit organisation, which will implement a training and support program somewhat along the lines of Safe Schools Victoria, Barnett said.

While the local group has strong informal ties with Progressive Judaism Victoria (PJV), Barnett, a PJV board member, said there were GLBTI Jews across the Jewish spectrum, “whether they be Progressive or Orthodox”.

“It’s not a Progressive issue or an Orthodox issue, it’s a Jewish issue. It’s not an issue of simple tolerance, it’s an issue of the community embracing its own members, and its members include GLBTI Jews. But if you’re going to teach people to really create a warm environment, they have to understand what’s needed, and they need to understand it in a Jewish context,” he said.

“The Keshet program has been developed with a focus on our traditions and our texts. It looks at Torah and Talmud and the evolution of Jewish thought and philosophy.”

Once Keshet Australia has been incorporated, there are plans to bring an American educator to Australia to offer workshops.

“One of the reasons we’re not part of the Progressive movement is that the [Jewish] community is more than the Progressive movement,” he said, adding he was elated that the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) has indicated its support for Keshet.

But asked if he expected strong opposition from educators at Orthodox Jewish schools, Barnett said: “We’re reaching out to teachers of day schools, and rabbis and others, because they too are worried about their kids. No one can tell me that the Orthodox don’t care about children.

“Nobody in the Jewish community, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t support gay kids. The issue is how do we do it. We’re not going into the schools to do the teaching. We want to give the educators the tools so they understand how to reach their own children in a way that’s appropriate to them and their philosophy.”

Barnett said he was hopeful that some Orthodox Jewish educators would become involved and that he had already had expressions of interest from teachers at Orthodox Jewish schools.

Last month, the PJV and Keshet organised an open forum linked to a Theatreworks production of Mother Son, a play on a gay Jewish theme. Half the proceeds benefited Keshet, and attendees took part in a discussion after the show with writer-performer Jeffrey Solomon.

JCCV president Nina Bassat said the roof body had asked Keshet how the Victorian Jewish community could help. “Given that it’s educating the educators in an area where there’s a lot of misinformation, we’ve said let us know what kind of support we can give you.”

A JCCV report last year found GLBTI members of the Victorian Jewish community were subjected to widespread marginalisation.