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Trans elders are 'preserving' their stories in a novel way

'I'm proud of myself. I found out who I am. I am the girl I want to be'

Trans elders are 'preserving' their stories in a novel way
Some of the participants in the Abundance project. Photo: Lisa White - The Social Photographer

An unique project is helping older trans and gender diverse people find a community to bond with.

The Abundance Project leans into the tradition of using Fowlers jars to preserve fruit and vegetables when they are in abundance – so they can be shared with others or kept for leaner times.

Trans people in Victoria, Australia are coming together during two High Tea workshops to make their preserves. It will be a chance to share their stories and to make new friends.

The elders shared their stories about accepting themselves and the fun they had on the day.

‘I pickled beetroot because it’s one thing that I’ve loved all my life,’ participant Sally Conning said.

‘I mightn’t have always loved myself but I’ve always loved beetroot. I realise now I don’t try to be anything other than myself.

‘I’m proud of myself. I found out who I am. I am the girl I want to be.’

Strawberries were Toni Paynter’s favourite fruit and that’s why she chose to preserve them.

‘Strawberries are my favorite fruit – and the red reminds me of my work at the Fire Museum, where I first started to realise I had a story to tell,’ Paynter said.

‘I don’t worry about other people’s expectations too much anymore. I’m not ashamed of who I am any more. I feel free.’

Ageing gracefully

The project was inspired by recent research on trans elders experiences of ageing and abuse.

The research spoke to a number of older trans people to discuss their experiences of ageing. It aimed to be a resource to aged care providers to help trans people live openly and comfortable.

‘We heard from TGD (trans and gender diverse) people that alongside strategies to address rights violations – there is a need to affirm TGD identities and build hope,’ said the Abundance project organizers.

‘Abundance draws on the wisdom of TGD elders to document stories and our wish is that this pantry of stories offers hope for TGD people as they age.’

Abundance is part of the 2017 Victorian Seniors Festival.

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