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Cindy Lewis

In this podcast Cindy Lewis from New Zealand talks about attending the human rights conference.

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In a podcast recorded at the Wellington Town Hall on March 16, 2011, Cindy Lewis from New Zealand shares their experiences of attending a human rights conference and presenting their digital story. Lewis, originally from Hamilton, became involved with the Human Rights Commission, which led them to participate in the event.

The digital story presented by Lewis was created as part of the "Assume Nothing" exhibition in Hamilton. This narrative encapsulated Lewis's life and their transition, focusing on the joy they've found since sharing their story. The production of the digital story was a collaborative effort with University of Waikato students who had no prior knowledge of transgender issues. Through this collaboration, not only was a compelling digital story created, but it also nurtured a deep understanding and friendships between Lewis and the students.

Despite initial uncertainties about what creating a digital story entailed, Lewis describes the process as non-challenging and fulfilling. The main task involved scripting and condensing their story into a coherent narrative lasting three minutes. Lewis reflects on the importance of visibility and sharing personal stories, emphasizing that spreading awareness can help reduce violence and prejudice against transgender individuals. The positive impact of these stories is highlighted by their wide dissemination, including presentations to law enforcement and at various conferences.

While presenting at the conference, Lewis admits to feeling nervous but overall found the experience rewarding. The session provided an opportunity to showcase their digital story’s potential to make a positive impact within the digital sphere. Feedback from the session was overwhelmingly supportive, reinforcing the significance of sharing their life story.

The event also included a trans Hui, which Lewis attended, where they encountered a diverse group of over 100 transgender individuals from different parts of the world. The gathering was impactful – offering Lewis a sense of community and the opportunity to forge new international connections.

Discussions at the conference covered a myriad of trans-related issues, such as the financial burdens associated with transitioning, the lack of government funding, and the necessity of overseas travel for some procedures. Lewis highlighted the ongoing struggle against violence and the need for legal reforms, such as the inclusion of gender identity in the Human Rights Act. Since the publication of "To Be Who I Am" by the Human Rights Commission, there have been positive shifts, such as cheaper and simplified processes for changing one's birth certificate.

Lewis's personal experiences as a transgender individual living in Hamilton are also shared, noting their smooth transition within their community and the overall acceptance they've received. While problems regarding restroom usage arose, which is a common issue within the trans community, these were generally resolved through societal acceptance of their identity.

In reflecting on the conference, Lewis feels a strong sense of social fulfillment and the importance of conveying to others that transgender individuals are not alone.

As a final thought, thinking to the future, Lewis wishes to send a message of resilience to listeners three decades from now: to keep going, hold one's head high, and to persevere.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Record date:16th March 2011
Interviewer:Gareth Watkins
Location:Wellington Town Hall, Wellington
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-004148).