|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
New chair of Auckland-based transgender support and advocacy service Genderbridge Joey Macdonald is bursting with energy and enthusiasm for the new role. We find out a bit more about the passionate community worker and the challenges ahead.
How are you feeling about the role? Nervous, excited?
I'm feeling excited, pleased, and determined to continue the excellent work of the previous Chair, Jaimie, who was amazing in her calm dedication to Genderbridge. I'm looking forward to creating new opportunities for Genderbridge, for example, I'm hoping we'll find some trained facilitators to run social groups and support groups out of our offices at OUTLine. I'm also hoping that we'll keep engaging with media, current events, and political issues that affect trans* communities. I'd like Genderbridge to be one of the organisations that media (such as gaynz!) seek opinions and feedback from, not because we can represent the diversity of trans* communities but because we can provide a perspective grounded in our own personal experiences as trans* people and volunteers.
What are you most looking forward to about it?
I'm looking forward to building relationships between Genderbridge and other organisations. We work closely with OUTLine NZ and Rainbow Youth, and I'd like to extend our network further, because trans* and gender diverse people come from all walks of life.
What will the biggest challenges be?
One of my biggest challenges at the moment is finding time to do all these things! I've been working on the WTF campaign with Sam Orchard and Sam Shore, as part of my job at OUTLine, and I'm soon to be employed in the mental health sector as well (fingers crossed) so I'm going to be pulling out my scheduling skills! I like making giant calendars and marking them up with highlighters, in addition to whatever computer scheduling I use.
Another challenge, one that I'm excited about, will be collating the feedback from our members (we recently had a community planning session and also the AGM at which I was elected) about what they'd like to see in the future from Genderbridge, and then making it happen!
What are the issues facing the trans community which most concern you at the moment?
I think the trans* community faces ongoing discrimination that often occurs without being directly labelled transphobia - racism and sexism are huge issues for trans* people. Especially if you identify as female, whether that be as a transwoman, whakawahine, fa'afafine, vakasalewalewa, fakaleiti, akavaine, or genderqueer person. The combination of racism and sexism can be deadly.
As an ongoing issue, I think the need for consistent and high quality healthcare is right up there. We need to know that our health and wellbeing is important and that we are safe and respected in our identities when we visit medical professionals. Internationally, there's a big anti-pathologization movement, to stop treating gender diversity as an illness or a disorder, and I think in NZ we are still working out how to educate and support our health professionals, so that they can support us.
What do you love about the community?
I love how creative, resilient, and powerful we are. I am strengthened by my loved ones, my friends and family members (both chosen and blood families), and by those who have come before us, making our lives possible.
It must be sad to see the past Chair leave?
Yes, it's definitely sad to see Jaimie go, but she is pursuing her academic dreams and I know she'll continue making us all proud. We miss her already! We also had a couple of other amazing committee members step down, and their ongoing support is invaluable for us, as the new committee. This work would be impossible without so much hard work from them and other volunteers.
And tell me a bit about yourself, as much as you want to share!
A bit about myself: I have a cat called Bobby D (named after Cate Blanchett playing Bob Dylan in that movie), I love raspberries and lime frozen yoghurt, and enjoy the freshness of winter more than the heat of summer. As a transmasculine queer person, I'm really invested in social and political change, in making the world a more liveable, generous place. I've been performing queer burlesque lately, bringing out my femme side. I am passionate about the overlaps of community work, art, activism, performance, writing, eating, and storytelling.
You can contact Joey MacDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org, or ring us on 0800 TG HELP. There's also our website, which we are currently updating: www.genderbridge.org.