AJ Kearns shares his story with Perth for IDAHOT day
AJ Kearns shared the moving story of his transition to an audience of about 160 people for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia at the UWA University Club this year.
In his address he spoke about his experience as a sexuality questioning young woman whose upbringing was not accepting of the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) community, as well as the remarkable story of how he postponed his transition to give birth to his second child.
He said after years of self loathing, substance abuse and then failed gay conversion therapy he finally moved away from his family and started a new life where he met his former partner and started a family with her.
“When I was married, happy, safe and away from my parents I then had space to start my process of self discovery,” he said.
AJ said after he started to dress as a man he understood what it was like to feel whole and once he had set a date for surgery it gave him hope; however he had promised his wife that he would birth their second child, and as there had been medical complications following the birth of their first child, this was something he felt he needed to do.
“I am a man of my word, and man or not, I wanted to hold true to my commitment,” he said.
AJ said he fell pregnant after his first try; however it was a difficult time for him.
“I felt invisible like people couldn’t see me as my true self,” he said.
To make matters worse, the mid wife assigned to AJ during the birth was horribly transphobic.
He said even though the mid wife had been briefed to use the male pronouns she refused to, instead using female pronouns in excessive amounts.
“She used female pronouns so many times I have no idea how she fitted them all in and she showed visible signs of disdain towards me,” he said.
AJ said despite the mid wife’s treatment of him, the birthing experience was wonderful.
“(The labour) was intense, but so beautiful, wonderful and powerful to experience as a man,” he said.
People who attended the event said they felt inspired and moved by his bravery.
One audience member said, “AJ was a powerful speaker, I cried.”
Another said, “It was great to hear AJ’s story...it provided great insight into the struggles that gender diverse people still face in today’s society and how we can help change.”
Acting Commissioner Dr John Byrne said it was wonderful to get such positive feedback about such an important topic.
“There is still a very long way to go when it comes to raising awareness about the gender diverse community in Western Australia and likewise addressing discrimination against them.
“Forums such as the 2017 Isabelle Lake Memorial Lecture give members of the transgender community a voice and allow people a better understanding of the issues transgender people still face on a regular basis.” He said.
Dr Byrne also acknowledged success of the annual lecture was due to the ongoing collaboration with UWA and this year the inclusion of the Public Sector Commission as a sponsor.