Story by Edwina Keelan, photo by Edwina Keelan
I would like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of this land where this story takes place. We walk on this land lightly. And I and would like to acknowledge Laurel Walter from The Gender Centre over 55’s group for her participation and input into the development of this piece of writing
April May* is a mature-aged Transgendered Australian Woman who was born male but has lived for many years as a woman after going through the sex change process in the 1980’s. She also has a lived experience of mental health issus. April is a very colourful and cheerful person to talk to, and there is a lot of real fun and laughter whenever she is around.
April is currently participating in ACON’s (Aids Council of New South Wales) Aged Care Volunteer Program which provides outreach to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex people in Aged Care facilities, respites, hospitals and private homes. The volunteers are also now going out to remote communities as well.
“It’s about helping aged trans women and men stay in touch with their community.” April explains. “Later, we are going visit some more people at a hospital and a nursing home. All we do is just call in to see how they are and see if they need company. We don’t aim to make pests of ourselves! We just want to let them know that we are here for them, an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.”
“I have a TAFE qualification in aged care nursing, and I am qualified to work in that role in people’s homes,” April says, “but this particular volunteer role relies more on social skills.”
That’s good news, as chatting and making social connections are what April does best!
“I want to get back into the work force and be of use to the community,” April adds. “You can get so lost in the stuff of everyday.”
“There are so many ageing Trans women and men, and a lot of them are becoming isolated. The big fear about being separated and isolated is the onset of depression, or even suicide. Keeping up a connection keeps people alive and involved.”
April says there is especially a need for this kind of service in remote communities, and she visited one person recently who was overwhelmed with tears to see her because no one else ever visited!
*April is not her real name and was omitted by the writer for privacy reasons.