SAGE calls for contributions to ‘Life Over Suicide’ project

Katherine Wolfgramme, a contributor to the SAGE Life Over Suicide project, in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade marshalling area, 2017. Photo: Katherine Wolfgramme/Rod Spark Photography/Facebook.

The Sex and Gender Australia (SAGE) group has issued a callout out for contributions to their continuing Sex and Gender Diverse (SGD) Life Over Suicide research project, which is collecting stories from sex and/or gender diverse people who have struggled with or contemplated suicide.

Sex and/or gender diverse people are made up from many differing groups including people who are intersex, transexed, transsexual, transgendered, androgynous, without sex and gender identity, cross dressers and people with sex and gender culturally specific differences.

SAGE spokesperson Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH said the project focused on people from SGD groups who had considered suicide but decided against it. 

“Over the past 50 years I’ve lost so many trans, intersex and gender diverse friends to suicide,” Dr O’Keefe said.

“Even though there’s been increased acceptance of SGD groups people in society, we’re still marginalised and starting to see moves to deny us our human rights.

“Too many people from SGD groups are taking their own lives because they feel alone, isolated and rejected. They are particularly isolated and feel alone during the Covid-19 crisis.

“The Life Over Suicide Project aims to help them consider another option.”

Dr O’Keefe told the Sentinel that individuals from SGD groups who have considered suicide, but decided to make a choice to continue living, are asked to consider sharing their story.

Stories should be approximately 500 words in length, include information on how you identify, why you considered or attempted suicide (specifically around SGD issues), what changed your mind and why you are glad you chose life over suicide. 

Contributors are also asked to outline what advice they’d give to SGD people in a place of despair, and to include an image of themselves in their submission.

If you would like to be part of the project, or would like more information, please go to https://sageaustralia.org/category/sgd-life-over-suicide-project/

SAGE Australia was formed in 2001 to campaign for the social and legal rights SGD people.

Since then, it has successfully lobbied and helped change many laws to give greater human rights and respect for SGD people.

Since its foundation, SAGE’s work has been supported by former Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Malcom Turnbull, Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, Federal Member for Sydney Tanya Plibersek, former NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon and Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, among others. 

A number of SGD people have already contributed to the SAGE project, including award-winning trans and diversity consultant, educator and presenter, Katherine Wolfgramme.

Katherine Wolfgramme accepting the ‘Inspirational Role Model’ award at the 2019 Australian LGBTI Awards. Video: Katherine Wolfgramme/YouTube.

Katherine Wolfgramme’s Life Over Suicide Story

I transitioned in 1990 when I was 18. Life was very difficult in those days, especially for transgender people. There were many suicides within our community because there was no support or sense of community. Surviving was the main concern for us all in a world that rejected the very idea of the humanity of gender diverse people.

Imagine being in a world where employment was refused to you, your family cut ties with you, society rejected the essence of your identity, and mainstream spirituality condemned you to Hell because you were born.

This life of isolation sent many gender diverse people to end their lives all too soon. It was a ‘dog eat dog’ world where trans people would also bully each other to feel self-worth about themselves. People can be cruel when they are jealous, insecure or feel powerless.

I too felt that isolation and damnation and wanted to die. I too thought I had nothing to live for. My strong Christian beliefs stopped me from ending my life, but I wanted to die, especially when the shadows of depression descended upon me when I turned 21. I had reached a milestone and nobody celebrated. I could not see an end to the discrimination and I had no emotional support from family or community.

My deep-rooted stubbornness gave me the strength to wade through while many others who transitioned at the same time began to take their own lives – I would estimate that only 10 per cent of the transgender women I knew in 1990 are still alive. Not all of them committed suicide – some of them accidentally overdosed on drugs and others were murdered or died from HIV and organ failure.

Nowadays, I am well loved and respected within my community and by my peers. Looking from the outside, my life would probably be described as blessed. But the real triumph of my story is that I survived three decades. It is a life that I created for myself. I created my own employment as a gender diversity consultant, my own networks and I created my own niche in the world.

There was no destiny already waiting for me created by others – I would not have known this if I had ended my life at 21. I am so very blessed to have survived.

Happiness is a transient and temporary emotion. It is as changeable as the weather. I have learnt it is an impossible rainbow to chase. I have also learnt that contentment gives me the strength to carry on with life.

I have found contentment to be my constant companion to see me through, whether happy, sad, angry or chilled I am always content – because I am Katherine, and my pronoun is SHE.

Katherine Wolfgramme’s website is located at www.wolfgramme.com.

Go in peace and reach out for help if you are thinking of suicide.

Lifeline Australia

Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week

Languages: English

Phone: 13 11 14

Website: https://www.lifeline.org.au

Or contact your GP, local emergency mental health service or present yourself at the emergency department of your local hospital.

A note from the Sentinel …

The Sydney Sentinel is the progressive new publication Sydney needs. 

But launching a new media outlet isn’t cheap or easy – especially in a city where the ‘Murdochrasy’ and other corporate cabals dominate the Fourth Estate.

Unlike many media outlets, the Sentinel will never charge readers to access our content. Our content is your content. And unlike many media outlets, we will never expect our writers, photographers, illustrators and designers to work for free – for ‘experience’, ‘exposure’ or any other reason.

That’s why we’re reaching out to you to help us deliver the very best independent publication for the city we love.

So please consider helping the Sydney Sentinel by donating to our founding fund, to help us get off to a flying start: 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-the-sydney-sentinel-take-off

Thanks to our readers and supporters for your assistance.