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Mix Margaret Dylan Jones

W.A. composer, pianist, teacher, article writer

A Brief History of the Time We've Spent

on Working Towards a

Gender Centre

Preserved online in the hope that future advocates
may learn how to avoid our mistakes.

Subject: [transwest] A Brief History of the Time We've Spent on Working Towards a Gender Centre
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003 09:43:43 +0800
From: M Jones <> [old email addresses]
For those who don't know much about it, here's a longish brief history of the push to develop a gender centre in Perth.

1997: TransWest: The Transgender Association of Western Australia formed (as Gender Dysphoria Foundation of WA). The aim of establishing a gender centre was enshrined in our constitution when it was formalised in 1998 (see extract at end).

2002 (early in the year?): we have heard vague reports of a section of a conference of health care professionals held in the premises of FPWA (in Roe Street, formerly known as Family Planning WA), which considered the issue of setting up a gender centre. It was perhaps a sexology conference? But no-one in the gender community knew anything about it until many months after the event, and even then only by rumour (obviously a top-down approach, not a community-led process). There was no follow-through.

9 April 2003: The WA Sexology Society (WASS) hosted an open forum on the question "Do We Need A Gender Centre?" (I think that was the wording, or it's close). WASS member Sarah Tup Evans, a PhD candidate in the field of community psychology whose research is on intersex issues, was probably the driving force behind getting WASS to incorporate this important meeting in their series of forums. Note that as this was not long after the traumatic TransWest February meeting there were only three TransWest members at the WASS forum. Most of the 21 or so people in attendance were cisgender (ie. non-transgender). A white-boarding process was used to determine a long list of points which could be considered in more detail at subsequent meetings under the name "Perth Gender Centre Umbrella Group."

31 May 2003: The Perth Gender Centre Umbrella Group had its first meeting under that name. (Note: this is not an incorporated body, to this day it has no constitution, no rules, no office bearers and no funds. As I understand it, it was never intended that it would become incorporated or have any members.) 22 people attended, including six from TransWest, three from the Freedom Centre, two from Phoenix and one from the Chameleons. Please forgive me for labelling, but I thought I counted about two cross-dressers, four FTMs, 6 MTFs, and one androgyne. There were three cisgendered academics. All in all there were nine groups represented, six of which were brought in by TransWest. Elena Jeffreys very expertly facilitated, taking on that role at the last minute when Carol Peers was unable to attend due to ill health.

Most of the time at this meeting was spent working out a process to follow in heading toward the goal of establishing a gender centre. This entailed much discusion of committee structures, quorums, voting rights, and representation methods for various community groups. This was thought necessary because of the deep distrust which had recently developed in the transgender / transsexual community.

30 June 2003: Second general meeting of The Perth Gender Centre Umbrella Group under that name. This meeting was officially deemed to be the 'Third Gender Centre General Meeting' because this process had started with the WASS meeting. An hour beforehand TransWest was asked by the venue administration to get there early to get the key, open up and set out the chairs as others had neglected to organise it or something like that.

Seventeen people attended, including five from TransWest and the partner of one of these. There was again much discussion of meeting procedure. In between meetings there had been vicious fighting on the umbrella group's email list resulting in deeping problems. At the meeting it was decided to, in effect, abandon the email list (it still exists, but can only be used by the list owner, and only for official outward-bound messages, not for discussion). In the preceding weeks Michelle Lee had passed on the ownership of the list to Sarah Tup (without the latter's knowledge or consent). The meeting decided that Collin Mullane, of Bi-Pride and GALE, should be the new list owner. This was the last gender centre meeting I personally attended.

28 July 2003: Next meeting. I and others had thought this was to be the first steering committee, which is why I didn't attend it, but maybe it should have been a general meeting. In any event, only ten people turned up and again no-one had the key. However, this time they simply couldn't get in and so stood around outside for a while in the freezing cold before dispersing.

TransWest sent the umbrella group our apologies (in advance) for not being able to send an official representative for the steering committee (see the full text of this at the end of this email).

11 August 2003: Next meeting. Meant to be a general meeting to elect a steering committee, but nothing could be done because the requirements for a quorum were not met. Eight people turned up, including two from TransWest and two from Phoneix. There were three (or four?) transgender or transsexual people.

25 August 2003: Next meeting. Six people attended.

Here's a summary of the attendance at gender centre meetings this year (2003):

April: 21 individuals May: 22 June: 17 July: 10 August: 8 August: 6.

At the last two in August a quorum was not present so nothing could be done. I would have thought this would be telling people something.

I thnk it's time for a new approach which should led by a more capable group, such as TransWest.

--Mx Margaret Jones

Convenor, TransWest: The Transgender Association of Western Australia (Inc.)


Subject: [transwest] TransWest Endorsed Representative
Date: Sun, 27 Jul 2003 22:48:50 +0800
From: M Jones <hmpperth@
To: Perth_Gender_Centre_Umbrella_Group
TO: The Perth Gender Centre Umbrella Group
FROM: TransWest: The Transgender Association of Western Australia (Inc.)
PO Box 1944 Subiaco WA 6904

Dear Friends

The establishment of a gender centre is stated in TransWest's constitution as an object of the association (quoted at the end). However, at our Annual General Meeting today (27 July 2003) the association failed to find a member willing to be our endorsed representative for the gender centre steering committee.

Despite this regrettable situation the meeting did agree that we should express our support for the process currently underway and for the overall aim of developing a gender centre.

As several TransWest members are expecting to participate in the steering committee as endorsed representatives of other community groups or as individuals, and several members are on the umbrella group email list, we anticipate being able to follow the project's progress. If there are any hard-copy mail-outs please include us on the mailing list (at the PO Box above).

We hope that the option will be kept open for us to send an endorsed representative at a future time if one becomes available.

Thank you.

--Mx Margaret Jones

From the TransWest constitution:

1. The objects of the Association are-

To establish a not for profit support organisation to provide services to people with Gender Dysphoria and Gender Identity issues including their families and the wider community in the areas of :-

- Information resources

- Employment counselling and referrals

- Agency referrals

- Access to medical services, HIV AIDS and specialist health care issues.

- Outreach support services

- Welfare counselling and referrals and

- Legal counselling and referrals

The ultimate creation of a "Gender Centre" to support the above services.

To promote the interests of people living with Gender Dysphoria at a State and National level.


Back to A brief history of transgender, transsexual, intersex and cross-dresser events and organisations in Western Australia


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