Bella Simpson - Tranzform

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride [00:00:05] Hi, my name is Bella MIU, she had pronouns and yeah, man, trans woman, and I've been out for a living. [00:00:20] Awesome. And so we're here today to talk about transform. So when did you first get involved with transform? [00:00:28] So when I first came out, I was saying money as a counselor, and money was supporting myself and my family. And way, one of the things that money had told her it was transformed was standing up, and that it could be really good opportunity for me. And so I started going along, and dad was really supportive. And I was living in the heart at the time. And so he would come into the city and pick me up afterwards. And there was an event in Palmerston North drove a whole lot of us to Palmerston North for, and yeah, so I started going here, and I was leaving, and I just kept going and till I was sort of old enough and didn't need the support. [00:01:15] And it sort of got more from support social for me. So yeah, how many people were involved when you first went, [00:01:22] um, it was a really small office in the nation. And I think it was about five or six. And it fluctuated. So like, when we were first in the nation, it was packed, and it was a really small first, and then we move to evolve and evolve was on that little alleyway with the Chocolate Factory is now [00:01:43] lead Street. [00:01:44] Yeah. And they hit the big room, it is a bar now. [00:01:50] We used to, we met in the before it was a bar. And that that was when there was maybe 234 of us and some weights, the most amazing would be lyst. But yeah, I was sort of always gone. Because I didn't have anyone else trends in my life. That was the only like visibility I really had. But I was the youngest person by that 10 years. And then in general, LGBT, like events, like a holy and things I was the youngest person by like five years. So wherever I went, I was just ridiculously the youngest. And which is interesting, because when you look at it, now, we have these really young kids coming up. And there's so much more opportunities for them to come out and be themselves. So it's really interesting, sort of sitting back and watching this huge cultural shift of how our community is sort of coming out and shape shifting and changing and growing. So [00:02:56] yeah, he first went when you were live? [00:02:59] Yes, a [00:03:00] Yeah, I was young, and [00:03:01] I might have been 2008. [00:03:06] So and you really say it turned from kind of social support. And to be more social, do you think is that perhaps because as you got older, you were the same age as others, or? [00:03:16] I think for me, it was more just that [00:03:21] I was much more sure of how I was. And then I wasn't looking, I guess for that reassurance, and I wasn't looking. I wasn't needing to be around. I wasn't needing the support. Really. I was really just needing to be around people who were like me socially. Yeah. Yeah, cuz it's school. Like there was no one else out. So I was the only one out was the only game. [00:03:55] Yeah, it was sort of a social opportunity. [00:03:58] To Do you know, why the group was formed. [00:04:00] Um, [00:04:02] I think the group was formed, because at the time there was schools out in schools out for a long time, was really the gay group, right? That's really the gay guys went. And that was the spice. And I think before my time, there was transphobic stuff that was happening within that space. But I don't think that that was sort of anyone's fault. I think when we look at it in the context of their time, it was not transitions was still not like a visible issue. And they weren't being highlighted. You know, I think this is a few years after trans America had come out. And we had a trans character and ugly beauty was played by this woman. So you know, if it wasn't patrons, visibility. So there was more a need for a group because there wasn't anywhere else for us to go. So. [00:04:57] Yeah. Have you met anyone who was transmitted going to transform? [00:05:01] No, yeah, no, it was transformed was the first time that I made trans people. I made money. And the in, I think it was maybe 2009. In like the holidays, I went to Hawaii, which was organized by Elizabeth and that was sort of my first time being around any, like, major queer people. Yeah, we're talking like a couple of hundred queer people in this matter, I and I think a lot of people will remember me from waking them up with pots, and like running around and like a pink tutu. [00:05:48] But it was a really fun opportunity. I think that was the first time that I really realized that there was a community out there and that it wasn't just me, going alone by myself. [00:06:00] Yeah, how does that feel [00:06:01] to be, [00:06:02] um, it was really exciting. And it was really reassuring to have that visibility to have that support. And a lot of people were there to learn new things and to meet new people. But for me, it was more just an opportunity to be around people like me. And to, I think I ended up talking in one of the workshops as well. And it wasn't something that I had signed up for. But it was something that was important for those around me. And it was just a really good learning opportunity. And yeah, reassuring. me, [00:06:42] please. Yeah, so I guess you've already addressed that they weren't really any other similar groups before that one that were for trans people? [00:06:49] Not that I'm aware of No, I [00:06:51] did, it wasn't like nothing else was really brought up, you know, when you sort of searched for transitions, you were sort of getting frustrated there and edgy and things like that. Which the wrong groups, and they, you know, their own our people, [00:07:09] not maybe for living. [00:07:15] You know, what kind of did transform have any particular goals in mind when setting it up? [00:07:23] I'm not sure because I wasn't really a part of it sitting at phase, I think, as it grew bigger, or as it kept going, I think that it sort of knows a lot more structure put in place around, you know, we have a social time. So that would be like a board games. And then the other time, the opposite time would be, you know, having someone coming into a talk or education sort of thing. And that was always really good. And yeah, there wasn't. I'm sure there were goals and things. But that was not something that I was really aware [00:07:57] of at time. [00:08:00] So what kind of activities would you do? [00:08:03] I don't really remember, I think we used to do crafts. And we did. [00:08:09] We did like roundtable discussions. And I know that when I turned 13 they did a birthday party for me. Made me this beautiful piece of art that is big beyond it was butterflies all around it and internet see as big as it is. It's got the big banner, then it says is for beautiful under. And it's really beautiful. And it's one of my favorite things. Yeah, I think it was really nice to have another big thick. It was like a second family almost Sienna Wilson Yeah, yeah. [00:08:46] How long do you think it took before they began to feel like a second family? Um, [00:08:52] I don't think it was that long. I think that once we had moved to the new site, [00:08:58] I felt very much like at home, I felt very comfortable in a felt. [00:09:04] Yeah, it just felt like what I needed, you know, and it just, I would come in after school. And I would generally be the first person there. And I could just sort of hang out and be myself and not have to worry. I don't think I did any homework, which are [00:09:25] more important things. [00:09:29] I think when it moves, when evolve, moved over to the corner of manners and Cuba, that's sort of when I stopped going. And I think that that was when I was around 1516. So I just didn't have the need for United sort of built up a social group at high school, and I had friends around me and I was in a sort of beta place in my life. So [00:09:56] yeah. [00:09:58] Where any of this I'm still friends with many of the people that you were in contact with and transform. [00:10:04] Um, yeah, yeah, definitely. I still friends with a couple of them on the social medias. [00:10:14] And I don't think I really catch up with many of them anymore. But not I know, like, I had the way just in there, like, we're all busy working at all. So it's hard to find time. But instead, he's in England, and Ireland, Scotland, UK over the other way. [00:10:37] We follow each other on Instagram and the Twitter and stuff. So that's, [00:10:41] yeah, that's like with any Intermediate School, kind of [00:10:45] always, Fred Wilson, it just changes as you get older. So for sure. [00:10:51] Why did why did you feel that transform was important for you personally. [00:10:56] It was important for me because it just sort of solidified that wasn't this freak? I am wasn't someone different. There was other people like me, that I could be who I wanted to be. And I and that, yeah, it just sort of affirmed how I was. And because you get that real negative rid of it at the time anyway, via the media and social media, and even sometimes at school, that just sort of leaves you wondering and thinking. So the, you know, to have that one place where everything sort of reaffirmed that like, this is your space is your people, and that's fine. And you're doing fine. You know? Yeah, that's nice. [00:11:38] That's awesome. And so is, why do you think that transform was important, just kind of all together as like a space. [00:11:47] I think, as time goes on, they will always be a need for some way, like transform, there's always gonna be young trans people coming out who was so lost, and have no idea where to start. But as the assigning point is a group like transform, and then it's a really important place to build that support network around them to learn unhealthy ways about all sorts of things that they need, and sort of have that connection within their own community that they may not have had else. We're all other ones, particularly when a family isn't supportive, then it helps to create that support network around them. [00:12:28] Yeah, with any kind of memorable events or moments that [00:12:37] we we went to Palmerston North. [00:12:41] That was really cute. So it was Jake, Brian was on the Human Rights Commission. And his partner was doing the SU nothing exhibition. And it was in pumps to north. And so part of Human Rights Commission slavery, it all has a conference based on the exhibition. And so we went to talk about transform what it means and but you gotta hit that I was maybe 1211 at the stage that I was going to Palmerston North, like, Dad was dropping us off, and he was leaving, but he was kind of hit, let me say, and it was great. Like, I just remember going to the supermarket and that I can get whatever you want. Am I telling like a 12 year old, he went to the supermarket, it's like mind blowing, you know? [00:13:31] It was so good. And so responsible, like, novella, you know, like, you know, having 30 times of ice cream. Yeah. [00:13:44] And so yeah, that was that was one of the one of the real memorable transforming moments. And then there was the Hawaii as well, the Hawaii that was really, really lovely. And that was where I first met Elizabeth and my family met my dad made Elizabeth as well. [00:14:01] Elizabeth KK, yeah, yeah. [00:14:04] Yeah. So that was the first main event that I really remember. And I guess from transform that lead into doing other activism sort of work and speaking at other events, and there was the Kazem Hawaii that happened in Oakland, which is done with the money that comedy coffee had one was dancing with the stars. It was always been run by us. And so there was a big bus of like, transforming schools out people that like went out to Auckland or whatever. And that was awesome. You know, like this. Yeah, I just remember, you know, a crack of dawn is like, 530 in the morning, or getting onto this bus and just, you know, what was it better material it was playing and the spice world was playing and then the Rocky Horror Picture Show, like, real camp films. Yeah, Sunday was that. And yeah, just like, just like the small moments as well as just you're having a laugh and playing games. And yeah, some really good and really cute, [00:15:08] so good. [00:15:11] I was wondering if you want to elaborate just on what, assume nothing was what the [00:15:16] Yeah, so I assume nothing was was a really groundbreaking photography exhibition. It was at the Dallas in LA hot. And it was an A traveled the country. But it was at the Dallas and it was in the promissory notes museum as well. And Rebecca Swan, I think her name was she is a photographer. And she was documenting trends into six bodies. And was photographing them. And, you know, some of them were had writing on their chest saying, like, I'm not a monster, and like, this is who I am. And it was, it was sort of putting a face to the rhetoric that you hear in the media and the negativity that you hear and live set to see it. So it was quite a powerful thing. And when you think as well, that this was, you know, like 2009 2008. And this was unheard of, to put like a naked trans person in a museum, you know? Yeah, I was, I was very young. So it sort of went over my head. But I've got there. The book was all the photos in it now now that I look at as I'm older. I'm like, wow, like they did good to get this like, you know, in such prestigious places. So [00:16:35] yeah, it's a it's a your bust up the transformer. [00:16:40] Yes, dad drove us to do [00:16:42] his work. And let's just pick fellow trans people and like all of our luggage, departments to noise, he dropped us all off. And then he came and picked us up the next day. And it was just really cute. And my dad was in the army, you know, he's like a romantic Terry guy. He's not anymore. But he was and he was really proud of and always really happy to support. And yeah, he was just, he was really cute. So awesome. Yeah. [00:17:12] And you mentioned I didn't catch the name, but another who he that you went to car? Whoa, do you want to talk about that a little bit as well. So [00:17:19] it was in 2009. And I think that one, I think that was like maybe the second month of third I think I had run before I had gone. But [00:17:30] that was worth the it was incident foundation to find upon it. And it might have been another old it's not a run now. [00:17:39] And it was kinda like inside out Hawaii that they have now. But not just for young people, because of course, the youngest person was made a living and then there was someone who was like 16. And then everyone else was in the 20s. So it was like quiet. I could different age bracket. And I honestly can't remember huge amount of the content of it. Just remember that I because I was so young. I had a private rooms, Brooklyn and Brooklyn's husband at the time in that course. Yes. And I was up really early. And I was happy with breakfast and then like, you're going to feel like everyone out and sounds like low. Give me a pan. [00:18:21] Yeah, waking everyone. [00:18:33] Bang your pot. Yeah. Yeah. [00:18:39] Yeah. And then the other one was Kazem, which was, that was up in Oakland. And I don't really know what that one was about either. That was really an opportunity to utilize the money that had been raised for remember us in a way that actually benefited all of the community and for everyone to give them to network to me to start conversations to learn. [00:19:06] And, yeah, so that was, that was quite nice. That was [00:19:12] that one was really big, actually, because it was on a proper camp ground. There was like bunk beds and stuff. And I remember getting really angry, and I demanded a room change, because they wanted to put me with, there were a lot of other, like, capable had young kids, they were in a room and they wanted to put me in the room with all these kids. And I was like, I'm not in context, that's like, you've got to think that I hadn't been surrounded by kids, you know, like, I'd been surrounded by all these other people. So I was a lot more mature, in a sense. And so I got put in with a couple of schools out facilitators, and that was really cute. But yeah, that's I'm not sleeping with these kids. [00:19:58] me like, 14? [00:20:00] Yeah, [00:20:01] when you're 1415, you don't want to be with them. I mean, some of them were like, young, some of them were 1312, you know? [00:20:12] Because I hadn't been surrounded by and it was like, Who do you think I am? [00:20:22] So light is reflecting back? What do you feel that has been transformed biggest achievements. [00:20:30] Um, I think transplants biggest achievement is the fact that it's still going through all the hurdles. Having no sustainable funding is another big thing. The fact that it's still going and coming into its 11th year is phenomenal. And I think that that is something that doesn't get enough recognition that it hasn't faltered over those 11 years, you know, it's been hurdles. And it's been stressful. And there's been volunteer breakdowns, because it's been so stressful. But it's still always had a space within our community. And it's always still been there to support people. And it's always been that hub. So that in itself was a massive achievement. But I think moving forward, when council needs to look at more long term sustainable funding, and hit the government also should be held accountable for that. [00:21:23] And, yeah, so this will be in budget will say, [00:21:32] but hey, it's fine. We're going to run them across now. [00:21:36] We don't have any money to pay for a venue, we can just sit in the middle of the road. [00:21:42] And brother can sit on the one [00:21:48] sitting on the crossing causa to [00:21:50] like sorry, a political statement. [00:21:56] This is supposed to make us feel safe. [00:21:58] Yeah. Isn't. This was [00:22:06] so funny. Yeah. [00:22:11] I do think [00:22:13] I spoke to bigger question I was gonna ask, do you feel hopeful that there might [00:22:17] be any kind of kind of government support at any stage? Or do you think it's still, [00:22:22] um, I think it's interesting, because I find a lot of the Labour MPs are all talk. So you know, they've always been there for our community, but now they're back in power. So I feel like they're not quite as much as they were. But I think if the greens are still with us, then I have high hopes that they will, I know that they've, you know, managed to get through a lot of what they've wanted to get through. And I'm sure that coming up to the next election that will be on the agenda. But I don't have high hopes suggests and lyst, I feel very much like he's definitely all talk. And it's also the thing of, you know, you can say that this funding for us. But when we say we need funding, that doesn't mean that we're gonna, that we have the time and the resources to constantly be applying for funding grants that are actually going to do a huge amount, but also within having to compete with other marginalized groups in the city. So that's not sustainable. And, yeah, so it'll be interesting, sort of where it goes over the next two years with the different budgets and elections that are happening. Yeah. But when you look at over as well, in the sense of like, the community events that I've been to the elite ones, I'm saying in brackets, because you know, so there's so many events in our community that invite only so then it's like, it's community, but it's invite only so sorry, you know, less, but so many of them. You know, for years, we always had our good old faithfuls with Jim Lewis, and grant. And then in the last couple of years, you really only see, Jen, you don't see the other show anymore nearly as much as you used to. which is said in a way that, you know, we help sort of get them where they are, and now they're just sort of like, Hello, I'm too busy for Yeah, whereas it's the yet Jen is always there, you know, and she's always, whether it's a face or whether it's behind the scene, she's always has that support. So that green wig just like the green when, you know, like, at Zenith vigil, she was there, you know, like, that was not an event for her to like, publicize all that was her being there for the community. And that's a really powerful, important moment. And it was a sort of thing that I would have expected my grant to try and be it, you know, [00:24:50] I don't think he was it might have been, but I don't think so. Do you [00:24:53] want to just for the recording purposes, say what demons event was? [00:24:57] Yeah. So died of last year 2018, Xena was murdered, and she was lifting her car. And there was awful reporting done and there was so much missing during in the lives. It was just an awful like, two months, I think it was. And in the end, no one was sort of talking about it. No one was acknowledging it. And I'm a real believer, and you can't complain. If you don't do something about it. It's like when people were like, I don't like the government, but I didn't vote because I don't believe in it. It's like, Well, okay, you can't complain about it, if you haven't, you know, done something. So I had worked with the council to organize a vigil for people to come together into groups together and to acknowledge Xena in a way that we would be together. And it was really difficult. Because one of the comments that really lift me was one of the ladies from St. Andrews on the terrorists, and she was really upset. And she's like, this is the first year there, we'll have someone from New Zealand to say, on Transgender Day of Remembrance, and it was really hard. And it wasn't an event to come and to be a publicized event. It was an event for us to come together as a community. And Jen showed up to that, and none of the others did. And you got to think that there is a rainbow cross party caucus, right. Like there are rainbow Members of Parliament that you would have expected some of them to show up. And they didn't. The Council was really supportive. And I don't think Justin showed up either. I think that he had something else happening. And the Dominion post was terrible. And they really want is they had said to me the day before that they wanted to talk to family stuff. And I said don't bother. No one's interested. We're not giving you any time to run any more shit, like it's not happening was very aggressive. I'm real strict on with media, like I'm not giving you time of day, you're not going to show that respect. But to us, it's a two way thing. But we were really lucky because Felix is there who is a part of our community, and is now working at the duck Don post. This March. Yeah, yes. Yeah. And, hey, was I just want to you know, take some photos and disadvantages of It's okay, as a course i'm here to support that. But then there was also like, the, like, a really high up manager at the Dominion posts was there and I told him, I was like, we don't want you here. family doesn't want you here, you can leave. And then the next day, feel it says article and the photos insane. It was like front page, and it was all properly gendered. And it was like we waited like two months for this to happen. And it was finally there. And it was Yeah, it was really powerful. And it was really important. And I think there's enough actually attended transform your head, you know, sit down and support VR evolve. So yeah. [00:27:59] Good. Standing up for the dumb post. [00:28:01] Yeah, I mean, it's on the fifth time. Yeah, I'm pretty aggressive with media. Yeah. [00:28:07] The day before the youth ball, when we first did the first one to produce for [00:28:12] someone from one us called and they're like, I really want to interview some trans people about how awful this Goebbels White House we better. Now it's like, Okay, so that's not happening, because you can't just come, but you wouldn't know we had two weeks full of, you know, first time nice event, we had 12 use events and never happened before, including like a private walkthrough of an exhibition at the City Art Gallery in drag queen storytime. And now you're coming to us on the very last day saying you want to do something with a sad spin, not happening. If you really want to be supportive of our community, you could have come two weeks ago, and you could have said, we want to highlight the positives that you're doing. [00:28:52] You're fussing, [00:28:53] and the volunteers and MCI were like, Oh, my God. [00:28:57] I mean, it was peak stress, like I had only just been confirmed the budget for the bowl that morning. And it was happening the next day. And we still had so much to do and get really and I had just finished work early to try and get a lot of it done. And then this person called and she was so cheery. And I was like No, not happening. So um, yeah. [00:29:21] History of healing, it made [00:29:26] me proud. Oh, yeah. Well, listen, [00:29:30] I have one last question. And how do you think that things have changed for trans youth over the last 10 years? [00:29:41] I think it's changed significantly. So I think that internationally, it's changed, we've got so much more digital support as well. And with groups like transform, there is the opportunity for trans people to come out at such young ages. And there's more education for the parents and the families as well. That was sort of one of the biggest hurdles was that we were dealing with the generation that, excuse me, had never experienced this, I never understood this, you know, they had really only sort of heard about the radical guys from the 80s, you know. So having trans people, they, it was a whole new ballgame for them. So with the education and understanding and that positive visibility, it's mean they're trans young people have been able to come out be themselves. And also just the labels that people use and the pronouns that people use in. It's just shaped and grown in such a beautiful book, supportive way, there's still a huge underlying issue of the tips. [00:30:46] You want to explain what turf is? [00:30:48] Yeah, so the trans exclusionary radical feminists, the sort of views are that trans women aren't real woman, and that they're just woman pretending to infiltrate me spices. And trends mean, just leads me instead of being coerced by seed, trans woman, [00:31:11] deluded lesbian [00:31:14] choices, that means we disagree with them. And I don't think that they fully grasp the harm and the hurt that the messages portray. And yes, I think having these feminist exclusionary people, it's a really big underlying issue. But I'm going to toot my own horn for a second. And last year, I got the opportunity to meet the Duchess of Sussex, me and Michael row was a part of an event that I was there was run by us. And I was like, you know, it was set up in a way that you were going to meet one of the Royals, right? And so Francis from rubies was like, Okay, what about gonna talk about and I was like, Well, okay, this is my second event at like, what's the world I came into Government House, and I heard his speak about her feminism and all of that, and how important and empowering it is and stuff. And so I was like, what are we going to talk about this, we're going to talk about what feminism that that includes trans women and that she acknowledges that in both England and New Zealand, there's a huge effort of trans exclusionary feminism at the moment. And they were like, Oh, yeah, whatever. And so then Megan came over. And she said, So tell me about the work you do. And I was like, let me tell you. And that was like, talking about how you know, at the moment in England, in New Zealand, we've got such a legitimising of feminism that doesn't include trans woman, and she grabbed my ama, she said, Oh, my gosh, I was hearing about this, and I was horrified. Tell me more. And I was like, Oh, here we go. This is perfect. So knowing that the Royals are on the same boat as us makes me feel a little bit more hopeful in the ways that we talk about feminism. And that it is a really big issue, but at the same time, it's a really small vocal minority that just haven't given a lot of money and power, which is disappointing. But I'm hopeful. [00:33:19] Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. Do you have any other thoughts about anything that you want to talk about now? or, um, [00:33:28] no, I don't think so. I think that pretty much sort of sums up transforming. Yeah.

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