photography by Denise Beckwith

People with gender dysphoria recognise aspects of their body that are incongruent with their identified gender identity. Trans or Transgender are the terms used to refer to individuals whose gender expression and/or gender identity does not fit into the traditional notions of “female” & “male”. More specifically, people born with the physical characteristics of one sex and the gender identity of another sex are referred to as transsexual.

Although transgender people have existed throughout time, countries and cultures, many suffer ongoing abuse and there is still a huge shortfall in the opportunities and support offered to transgender people across the world.

The Trans Murder Monitoring Project (2015) tells us that between 4 and 5 individuals are killed every week from ‘hate violence’ against trans and gender diverse people. Research continues to show that the rates of discrimination, bullying, abuse, violence and suicide are alarming and that ongoing prejudice exacerbates these problems creating significant barriers to health care. The resulting fear, anxiety and shame forces trans individuals into silence and for many multiple suicide attempts.

In April 2015 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a comprehensive resolution on trans persons’ human rights (with an overwhelming majority) calling on member states to respect, protect and fulfil trans persons’ right not to be discriminated against and to facilitate quick, transparent and accessible legal gender recognition based on self-determination.

In Australia, the 2009 sex and gender diversity project provided hope for many though the resulting Legal Recognition of Sex in Documents and Government Records ignored a majority of the recommendations. Even with the advent of the Commonwealth Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender, there are still significant disparities between states on the recognition of an individual’s gender identity.
– Dr Elizabeth Riley
Dr Elizabeth Anne Riley (PhD, MACouns, BSc) is a Sydney-based counsellor, academic & clinical supervisor specialising in gender identity. Elizabeth gained extensive experience working with gender diverse clients at The Gender Centre for 7 years as the centre’s first professional counsellor prior to completing a PhD titled ‘The needs of gender variant children and their parents’. Elizabeth provides support and counselling for parents and adolescents with differences in gender identity and/or expression as well as training for schools and other service providers. Elizabeth has published and presented papers and workshops, both locally and internationally, in the areas of Gender Identity, Supervision, Ethics and Sexuality.