Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Cherise Witehira, an inspirational transgender activist from New Zealand, Butcher’s Apprentice, Hairdresser, Academic, Sex Worker, Public Servant and former President of Agender New Zealand, a leading advocacy organization for the trans community in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Hello Cherise!
These issues have been evident for many years and successive governments have chosen to ignore them as they “are not a priority”. This is quite sad really as there are many within the community who require the support but for various reasons, cannot seem to access the services that are required in order for the person to become, for want of a better term, valuable, contributing members of society.
In saying that, the onus doesn’t just lie with government services; it also comes down to the person and whether they want to change their lives for the better. Some are very comfortable where they are at and do not wish to change that and that’s absolutely fine however, there are still many within the community who want to contribute but are almost sidelined by the government agencies they have to deal with.
|Cherise & the former US Ambassador to NZ, David Huebner.|
This I find quite offensive as she is an academic and could be working for the department she is dealing with but for some reason, the department wants her to make coffee for a living.
This is very discouraging for the person as she has spent thousands on her University degree only to be told she must attend these courses in order to satisfy the department’s criteria to continue to financially support her.
This perception of the organization was true when the organization first started in the 80’s and was called CD-ROM (Cross Dressers, Real Ordinary Men). This perception slowly started changing when Joanne Nielson became President and was succeeded by Dorothy Gartner and then myself.
Hopefully they do continue with the work as it’s an organization that is needed for a certain demographic within the trans community. It has the worldwide Trans community watching and waiting to see what their next project will be and I’m excited to see what it will be!
|Cherise & friends at an UpRising Trust Party in Christchurch.|
This was the case with tampon-gate. I saw the humor in the ad and thought it was hilarious. However, they did miss the mark with it and I thought a little more research was needed in order to make the campaign more what they intended it to be, although I would say it was quite effective in the sense that it created discussion about the product.
Most media want the sad heartbreaking story involving an injustice done to a hard done by victim. Don’t get me wrong, they are out there right now and they are struggling through so much and some do not make it to the next morning.
Essentially, stop feeling sorry for yourself, quit playing the victim and get out there and make something of yourself. The only person holding you back is YOU! You can do this and you have the tautoko (support) around you to be able to do it.
There needs to be collaboration between the groups but also ensuring that independence is maintained within the groups so the group’s specific goals are still acknowledged and worked on independently but with the support of other groups. Perhaps a Memorandum of Understanding between the different groups would be a good start. Will never happen though…
|Cherise with NZ Prime Minister, John Key.|
We are all in the same boat in terms of the journey to find oneself and to also try and be accepted by society in general by having equal rights. I think people read too much in to it and take it far too personally. Regardless of what GLBT/LGBT/BTGL/TBLG/TGIF (lol) term is used, each faction is struggling for their own identity and fighting for equality within society.
Unfortunately there is not enough education on the difference between the two as there are still people who see trans women as gay men who dress and live as women. This is definitely an issue that all queer communities need to work on – the difference between the two.
As long as he/she/they are good at what they do, genuinely listen to what the people want, and are able to practice best judgment according to that, then the person will be able to make a difference, regardless of who or what they are. But that’s what the media want I guess. Tokenism.
|Cherise & one of her boys outside Rush Bar.|
Yes, the sisters on there are trick and, well, mostly unsprung but who really cares. Beauty comes from within. Kaore te kumara I kōrero ki tāna reka – be humble. Now that’s true beauty ma dear.
Older NZ sisters will remember what that is. I am also now the Madame for NZ’s only Exclusively Transsexual Bordello, Madame Jaime’s, located in a discreet Central Wellington location. It’s Licensed too! (subtle plug there) The owners, Aaron and Dion, have been very accommodating for the community and genuinely want to support in any way they can.