ATSAQ: Three decades of transgender support in Queensland
Starting in 1988, ATSAQ has existed under various names but always provided support for Queensland’s transgender population. This issue, QP hears from the ATSAQ secretary Kristine Johnson about its history and community work.
Australian Transgender Support Association Queensland (ATSAQ) is made up of a group of dedicated volunteers, Gina Mather, Kristine Johnson, Gail Fleming J.P. (Qual), Roz Ferguson, Aunty Pat Geraghty, Linda Pearce, Margot Brooke J.P. (Qual), Bambi Page and Snowy Masloff.
The group started back in 1988/89 called QCATs, and went through various name changes – transsexual, transgenderist – and in 1992 settled on ‘transgender’ to remove the sexual connotations that are attributed to the term ‘transsexual’.
ATSAQ provides Queensland’s transgender population with such support as our resources can permit and runs a program of public education aimed at changing the negative images that the community may have with transgender people.
We provide support for family and friends of transgender people and help with understanding issues involved and information about medical and health services available to transgender people.
ATSAQ has also provided continuing support of the Brisbane Gender Clinic since 1994, along with members of the local transgender community.
ATSAQ was established specifically to provide support and advocacy for transgender people, their families and friends. Over the years we have developed a comprehensive range of relationships with individuals and organisations that play a role in delivering services to transgender people. ATSAQ has placed a heavy emphasis on Centrelink, the Queensland Police Service, the Anti-Discrimination Commission and Brisbane Sexual Health Service. These relationships have developed over a long period of time and have been mutually beneficial. Because of the emphasis that has been placed on building these relationships, transgender people are assured of more empathetic and constructive relationships with a wide range of service providers.
The trend in society towards accepting and including more marginalised groups and individuals has had an impact on the participation of transgender people. Many government and community organisations are required by law to engage sympathetically with transgender clients. These changes have given transgender people more opportunities to engage with the community. ATSAQ has become an important intermediary in this process of engagement and a primary source for the transgender people who wish to engage.
We also educate and try to dispel misunderstanding and combat discrimination, which is still a common experience for transgender people in Australian society, as well as liaise with all forms of government to assist in better policy practices and medical professionals.
ATSAQ is a confidential, non-profit, unfunded organisation, relying on donations and membership fees. We provide support and information on all aspects of gender reassignment for the general community and people who are experiencing difficulty with their gender identity.
Membership ($30pa) is available to everyone. We have monthly newsletters and luncheons. Donations of $2 or over are tax deductible. For more information please browse to atsaq.com or contact Kristine on (07) 3843 5024, 8am-6pm.
IMAGE: Kristine and Linda from ATSAQ.