International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia 2018 – Wyndham City, Victoria

I asked to speak for 15 minutes of IDAHOBIT Day as well as raise the Transgender Flag. I spoke about storytelling and the importance of sitting down and LISTENING to one another whether you’re gay or straight and we as the LGBTIQ community need to be better allies toward each other.

Every year the global community of sexual and gender minorities identifies one specific focus issue for the celebrations around May 17th. This year? If you are American then you will know it as “Alliances for Solidarity” or as we prefer to say it is Australia “WE STAND WITH OUR LGBTIQ+ MATES”

For those of you who aren’t part of the LGBTQ+ community, it  has a lot of labels. Most people probably know the five most commonly used to describe the community: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning. But often times we don’t understand one another very well and often times there is a lack of support and finger pointing. So I would like to pull the Alliance of Solidarity theme this year a little wider as and say this needs to be applied on a wider scale to all identities LGBTIQ+ and beyond.

I remember once sitting with a colleague when I was struggling to find work. I was clinging to my box of tissues and frustrated by my current situation and this word stood out to me from my tissue box, Nallawilli.

Nallawilli‘ is a First Nation word from the Darug Nation meaning to “sit down and listen to one another”. So I made this my mission.

It struck me at that moment what we all need to learn do is to “sit down and listen to one another” just a little bit more. Communication is the most important skill in life. You spend years learning how to read and write, and years learning how to speak. But what about listening?

We are taught from a young age to speak and when we listen it is usually a lot less and we often make mistakes and misinterpret meaning and this  flows to so many communities.

We live in a world where women are encouraged to hate themselves. There are people who are unhappy with their body shape, weight, stretch marks, etc and this is independent of gender. But we don’t try to understand those pressures.

If you’re bisexual you’re told you don’t exist.

If you’re pansexual you’re told you just want to feel like a “special snowflake”.

If you’re asexual you’re told that you just haven’t found “the one” and that you’re just prude.

We all subscribe to the oppression Olympics

But it also comes back from us as Trans people and we fail to I think cis people could also experience body dysphoria, as long as it’s not related to feeling like the wrong gender.

So from here take the time everyone to try and have a bit more patience, try and sit down and LISTEN to one another and maybe we can start the wheels of change moving in a better direction.

Published by mishsheppard

Michelle's powerful combination of self and community shines through the platform of radio which has helped raised the public profile and national dialogue of transgender, gender diverse and intersex issues on a national scale. Surprisingly nothing is off limits with Michelle who connects with her audience brilliantly; obviously through her humor and unapologetic blunt honesty. She is often labelled as an inspiring advocate and role model for youth and adults alike and hers is a powerful story to tell. We know that when a woman has the support of her community, especially her sisters, she is unstoppable. Michelle’s wider support from the women around her, LGBTI+ or ally alike, has helped develop her own unstoppable resilience and body positive confidence that she inspires others with. Now a sought-after public speaker Michelle is admired for her bold public representation of the Transgender community as works to break through the barriers of unconscious bias, cultural and structural issues to ensure equality of opportunity for all Australian work spaces. Winner of the ANZ Excellence in Business Award, ‘LGBTI Jobs’ a relatively new project, they pair LGBTI graduates and jobseekers to companies that embrace inclusion initiatives. “We’ve started a business that helps anybody who’s in the LGBTI Community. We go to companies and see what they are you doing. This isn’t just for me, this is for the entire community and we are going to make a massive change.” Michelle was recently celebrated alongside some truly amazing individuals from our community as part of the ‘The LOTL Power List 2016’ as someone who does everything in their power to make life that little bit better for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities: sometimes with blood, sweat and tears; and sometimes just by being themselves. Michelle is also a finalist for ‘MTV – LGBTI Broadcaster and Presenter’ in the Australian LGBTI Awards 2017. Awards Globe Awards 2016 - ANZ Excellence in Business Award The LOTL Power List 2016 (28/40) Finalist for ‘MTV – LGBTI Broadcaster and Presenter’ in the Australian LGBTI Awards 2017

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