Terminology

TRANSGENDER OR GENDER DIVERSE terms that refer to individuals whose gender identity is not typically associated with their assigned sex at birth.
GENDER IDENTITY is a person’s internal sense of self which may be Sistergirl or Brotherboy, woman or man, neither, a combination of different genders, another gender or no gender. Gender identity does not relate to a person’s sexual orientation, or the body they were born with.
GENDER DIVERSITY is a term which broadly recognises that many peoples’ gender identity can be experienced in many ways, not just woman or man. Recognising this diversity can be referred to as having a ‘non-binary’ understanding of gender.
GENDER EXPRESSION refers to the ways in which people demonstrate their gender identity to other people through behaviour, fashion, and other forms of presentation.
TRANS is an umbrella term for numerous gender experiences that might be described using terms like transgender, transsexual, Sistergirl, Brotherboy, transman, MTF (male to female), transwoman, FTM (female to male), qenderqueer, agender, gender-neutral, third gender, non-binary. For many people they may just want to be described as a woman or a man.
CISGENDER refers to people whose sex assigned at birth is typically associated with their gender identity and expression.

Pronouns and inclusive language

INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE is a way to demonstrate respect and to acknowledge the diversity within our communities regarding gender and sex even if people may not look or sound like you might expect from someone of a particular gender. Using inclusive language means not assuming we know how someone identifies, and using the words they ask us to.
GENDER PRONOUNS are words we use to describe a person and imply their gender. Examples of pronouns are ‘she’, ‘he’ and ‘they’, but people may use other pronouns for themselves. If you do not know a person’s preferred pronoun you can ask them privately, whenever possible, to be respectful.
MISGENDERING is referring to a person using the wrong pronoun, for example referring to a transwoman as “he” or a Brotherboy as “she”. This can be accidental or deliberate.

Gender affirmation

GENDER AFFIRMATION is a way to describe the process of affirming one’s gender. Many different pathways exist of how people may choose to affirm their gender; each is equally valid, including socially, culturally, legally, hormonally/medically. Some people may not undergo hormonal/medical gender affirmation procedures due to a number of different factors; they may not want to, they cannot afford it, they cannot access it, it may not be safe to do so, it may not be culturally relevant and there may be health risks.
SOCIAL GENDER AFFIRMATION is the process that can be made in a gender diverse or transgender person’s life so that they socially match their gender identity. These processes may include the use of a different name and pronouns, their external presentation such as clothes and hair, and the use of facilities that may match their gender identity such as toilets.
LEGAL GENDER AFFIRMATION this process can involve someone legally changing their name, or the gender marker (the gender that organisations have listed such as “Mr’ or “Mrs”, etc) on different documents. This might include, for example, a birth certificate.
CULTURAL GENDER AFFIRMATION transgender people exist within many different cultures around the world including: “sistergirls” and “brotherboys” in Aboriginal culture, “hijara” in Indian culture, “kathoeys” in Thai culture, “fa’afafine” in Samoan culture. In each of these cultures, there are different behaviour patterns, protocols, expectations, and obligations that people may undertake to affirm their gender culturally.
HORMONAL TRANSITION: HRT (HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY) in which sex hormones are administered for the purpose of matching a person’s secondary sex characteristics, such as breasts or facial hair, with their gender identity.
MEDICAL TRANSITION sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) is the surgical procedure (or procedures) by which transgender person’s physical appearance and function of their sexual anatomy is altered to match their gender identity.

Voices from the community

“Transitioning in remote places can be hard because you don’t necessarily have other queer or transgender people around you who know what you’re experiencing.

I transitioned in a small remote community where most people had never heard of the term “Transmen” or “Brotherboys”. Every single person I told I had to educate on what I meant when I identified as male and only wanted to be called “fella” or “he”. Wiya, none of those ladies names, because I’m not a lady!” ~ Mr. G.

“I feel Australia and especially the NT is lacking in mainstream social awareness of queer and transgender cultural issues. I think it is very sad that people feel forced into specific gender roles and there should be greater acceptance and awareness of people who have the courage and don’t feel like conforming to traditional gender roles. I have been gender fluid and gender non-conforming for my entire time living in the NT and have encountered some challenges such as verbal abuse, threats of murder and physical violence. My personal definition of being transgender has changed over the years, it went from being gender fluid and gender non-conforming to realising about a year ago that what I really wanted was peace and harmony between my soul and body.

For me I see myself as being born with the soul of a female within the body of a male and I simply want to find harmony between the two so that I can live the rest of my life out as a woman.

In my heart I have always seen myself as a heterosexual woman and transition is simply part of this process of arriving at my ideal self, I see it as a necessary process but I don’t see it as something that defines me as a person. However, I am proud of this journey because it requires strength and courage and is my life’s most exciting and rewarding achievement because it is the realisation of my dreams and full potential. From as young as I can remember I desperately wanted to be a girl and even prayed to God every night to someday make me into one and I feel this is God or the universe finally answering that prayer. ~ Jules Manluluwas

Nyakor & Jules / Photographer: Jules Manluluwas
Starlady / Photographer: Allan Clarke

“I want to dispel the myth in our society that the only legitimate way to be transgender is to transition from one binary gender to another.

I identify as trans, my gender is neither female or male, though my preferred pronoun is she, and my experience as a translady is valid and authentic!” ~ Starlady

“The most difficult part of my transition was being misgendered. After many years of internal struggle, I made the decision to transition feeling like I would die if I had to live another day kind of pretending to be female. Once I had come to that understanding myself, every person who referred to me as female or “kungka” made me feel invisible. So strongly did I not identify as female anymore that I felt like if I couldn’t be recognised by others as male, I was nothing.

To feel like nothing, to not be seen in the way that you see yourself, takes a mental and emotional toll on a person.

In the first years of my transition I very often would not leave my house because when I was alone I knew I was a man and I didn’t have to fight or explain or defend myself.” ~ Mr. G

“I identify as non-binary trans.

No one else can tell you what you are or are not, no one else can measure how you identify.

If it feels like you’re on a precipice being who you are that’s because you’re on the edge of something truly beautiful.” ~ Edi Donaldson.

“When I was beginning the process of medically transitioning, the only place I could access educated and informed medical services was a major metropolitan city.

As I was living in a regional area, this personally created huge financial and emotional stresses in my life.” ~ Josephine Over

Edi / Photographer: Rhett Hammerton

Jez’s story as a transman

Starlady at the Opera House, TedX, June 2015

“Transgender youth”, SBS Insight, September 2013

Queen of the Desert “Starlady”, 360 degrees production, 2013

“What are pronouns”, Minus18