Transgender Awareness Week 2018
Amanda Ashley - Transgender Activist

Nine months ago, Amanda Ashley took the first step towards transitioning.

The Hatfields Beach resident says she has known her true gender indentity since the age of eight, but put it to the back of her mind until last year when she felt safe and supported enough to begin socially transitioning - beginning the real life experience of her true gneder. This was followed, four months ago by the start of hormone therapy.

Amanda says it was clear, right from the beginning that there was a lack of information and access to services and support locally for transgender people. Online and phone support was available, but the physical places to go to were in Auckland City or, at best, on the North Shore.

“Although what’s there is amazing, sometimes you really need something local,” Amanda says.

To answer this need, Amanda and wife Lisa set up the Rodney Area Rainbow LGBTQ+ group on Facebook

“We were concerned with the lack of knowledge among our local GPs and wanted to provide a single place to bring together up-to-date research as well as direct paths to the right services,” Amanda says.

They also setup a website which went live on May 16 and has already had over 100 visitors.

Via these online platforms, the group provides resources, information for parents, articles and links to other organisations. It offers a safe environment for the Rodney and Hibiscus Coast LGBTQ+ community to come together, and liases with local youth groups to provide support. It also is focused on the bigger picture - seeking changes that it considers are needed to improve healthcare and access to quality pharmaceuticals for the transgender community.

Importantly, Amanda says it has proved to be a great way to make contact with others and share experiences.

In the future there are plans to create a safe space similar to Auckland city's Rainbow Youth, with a community wardrobe.

Republished from the Hibiscus Matters Newspaper - June 13, 2018

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