FROM the rocky heights of the Grampians to the flat cropping land, Wimmera’s landscape is as diverse as its population.
In regional areas, people with differing sexualities or gender identities can face a range of challenges – from bullying to a lack of specialised medical access and understanding.
Across this week, the Mail-Times will release a four-episode podcast telling the story of three people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community showcasing three very different experiences of the Wimmera.
Everyone has a different story and individual experience, but Wimmera living can bring a unique challenges for LGBTIQ people.
Episode one: Outsiders
For LGBTIQ people experience a lower degree of understanding in regional areas, lead to discrimination and isolation.
Tom Dryburgh, who identifies as gay, said one of the biggest challenges about growing up in Rainbow was encountering casual homophobia.
Tom, 22, said once he came out, he was supported and embraced warmly by his former home – but as a young boy growing up and not fitting the footy-playing mould, he never thought acceptance was possible.
Horsham’s Lily Dalton identifies as bisexual and non-binary, preferring the pronouns they, their and them.
Someone who is non-binary identifies as neither male or female.
Lily, 19, said after publicly declaring a non-binary identity, they were routinely harassed, verbally abused and physically shoved.
Wanda Jackson, a transgender woman who transitioned 45 years ago, moved from Sydney’s lively Kings Cross to small-town Goroke in 1999 where she’s found a fantastic home and she never wants to leave.
Why the right words matter
FOR many, terms used but LGBTIQ people can be foreign, we’ve put together an explainer of some common terms.
Sex: The term refers to biology and sex assigned to someone at birth. It does not always match someone’s gender.
Gender: One’s sense of self, what they identify as.
Trans: The term trans is sometimes used as an umbrella term for anyone whose gender characteristics differ from societal expectations – meaning their gender doesn’t match their sex.
For example a person classed as male at birth, their sex, who’s gender is female might describe herself as a trans woman, or a woman.
Gender diverse: Gender diverse people include people who identify as agender, having no gender; bigender, both a man and a woman; genderqueer or fluid, having shifting genders; or as non-binary, neither a man or a woman.
Misgendering: Misgendering is the term used for describing someone with a pronoun or language that doesn’t match how they identify.
Why does it matter?
Everyone one likes to be recognised for who they are, misgendering someone takes that away from them and can indicate they are not supported in their real identity.
All this is new?
No, people have been undergoing sexual reassignment surgery since 1951. People living as genders other than their birth sex have been recorded back to ancient civilisations.
Help is available
Headspace Horsham have recently opened their doors as a safe space for all youth.
They are working to create an LGBTIQ inclusive space where young people can be supported and find resources.