Life as a T girl ‘we say’ comes with many life challenges. As a child I matured faster than others my age.
I knew early about what I was and who I was going to be. Growing up, everything I did seemed to be wrong. Boys wear this and act like this people would say; names like ‘fag, poofter and queer’ were said to me a lot. I didn’t really understand or know what they meant, but what I did know was that these words weren’t words of kindness because people would say them with anger. School wasn’t of any interest to me, I hated it so much and some boys just loved to bully me. My sister who was a year older than I would have to come to my rescue every day and defend my battles. The one thing that I will always remember about school was the love and support I received from our nurse department.
At the age of 16 I left school because I was over the bullying! I left with limited education and not understanding its importance until I learnt for myself that my reading and spelling wasn’t so good. I signed up at a course thinking I could start off 'trick playing unsprung' but that can’t happen. Wherever life took me I was still going through the same issues at school; bullying, abuse, discrimination and hate! I had trouble finding a job and when I got one it was very hard to hold onto it. When I was 19 my parents were ambivalent in their support of me. My understanding of being transgender was that it wasn’t a life of choice, I was born like this. Most times I would imagine waking and being transgender was all a dream! At times I hated being born transgender as I had to learn to accept myself so I could be happy. Over time I met many 'sisters', who were like myself. Those 'sisters' were friends with other sisters, who all became 'sister friends' to me. I was surprised meeting so many others like me because I thought I was the only one. Some of my 'sister' friends were having family disputes so they would stay at my place often, even though we didn’t have much; my parents didn’t mind them staying at our place. Having all nine 'sisters' together was nice. We learned so much from one another. We all had our individual strengths. My strength was listening and I was seen as the go-to person when a 'sister' wanted advice or was feeling down. During those months of living together the 'sisters' had built a close relationship with their families and moved out one by one.
When I was in my 20’s I travelled around Australia which is where I realised just how much I missed New Zealand. It got me thinking about what I wanted to achieve in the future and although I was living a lavish lifestyle with people who loved me, I knew at some point in my life I needed to be independent and that meant getting a job. This frightened me because I have previous experiences of trying to stay employed and I knew it could be hard for T girls in employment. Not only did I have to deal with the normal challenges of getting to work like transport, and what to wear, I also had to deal with the discrimination at my workplace; other people had issues with my identity. I was always reminded of the struggles I had been through to get where I was. One day I really thought about my strengths and decided that I would go back to study. I doubted everything I had done but this idea I had of becoming a social worker there was 'no doubt' as I knew that was my calling in life.
I came back to New Zealand determined to start fresh. I signed up at the Manukau Institute of Technology, gained a graduation certificate in Social Services then went on to Te Wananga o Aoteraoa to complete a Bachelor of Applied Social Work degree.
Since making the decision to follow my calling. I have been offered a job as LGBTQI Youth Support Worker and was then elected to be a youth representative for the Mangere/Otahuhu Local Board with the Auckland council Youth Advisory Panel. These roles meant so much to me, I didn’t say yes straight away as I needed time to think and ask myself "am I the best person for this role"? "What do I have to offer"? "Are my intentions of wanting these opportunities pure"? After serious consideration I accepted!
I am very proud of all that I have accomplished. I was determined to achieve the many goals I set for myself. It is not easy having to study and work and can be very overwhelming but so rewarding. I look at how far I have come and look back at all those people who doubted me and said ‘you can’t’; I thank you for making me work harder to get here! I believe that being transgender shouldn’t be a barrier to anyone chasing their dreams. Your goals are achievable if you work hard at everything you do.
My message to our younger generation: looking at the parents of LGBTQI children, you are not alone. We have a wide spread community of younger and older generations in our back yard. Seeking support is okay and by working together a culture of unity is formed. Learning is reciprocal and relationships will get stronger. Life is a blessing, when you’re feeling down talk to someone, it helps.
Torranice currently works at ME for Manaaki Tangata in the Te Punawai Services sector.