Light at the end of the tunnel

Sun 4 Nov 2018

Tatryanna’s uncanny ability to bounce back is mind-blowing!

“I have always believed that if you put your best foot forward, no matter what it is, if you are giving the best you, then you’re not giving people reason to attack”

This months story is actually a speech from the gorgeous Tatryanna Utanga which she wrote for the Whanau Ora Review panel when they paid Pacific Homecare a visit in July 2018.

We felt that her story was too beautiful not to share but it would only work if they were in her words.

Thank you Tatryanna for sharing.

“Kia ora and greetings,

My name is Tatryanna Utanga and I am a transgender woman of colour OR culturally identified as ‘akavaine’. I am 27 years of age and currently study at the University of Auckland. I have a strong cultural background and over the years I’ve developed a passion for Human Rights advocacy, in particular, the rights of our Pacific LGBT+ community.

I am delighted to share with you today my story and how Whanau Ora, under the support and guidance of F’INE has made an impact on my life. Understanding that we all have our own journeys, I only hope that my personal account will echo some of the struggles and successes affecting our Pacific LGBT+ community.

It has been 9 years since I began my journey as a young Pacific transgender woman and throughout this time, my experiences in life was like a roller-coaster of both exciting and trying moments – and still Is today. At the time I was determined to reinvent myself into a strong Pacific woman. However, in order for this to happen there were a number of things that I needed to do.

After seeking the advice of those around me it became clear to me that some of the things that I needed to do included:
– Seeking out medical expert advice on Hormone Replacement Therapy
– Committing to a 12-month cosmetic laser therapy plan
– Apply for changes to be made to my legal documents
Of course, I instantly thought ‘Piece of cake!’

Well, that was not the case. I found myself at a crossroads between survival, ambition and self-discovery. The road ahead proved to be more challenging than I expected and the underlying factor for all this was of course ‘finances’!

It was then that I made the decision to press pause on my journey to self-discovery and reinvention and focus on other things.

As time went by – 6 years to be exact – I realised that not only did I forget about my goals, I neglected them entirely. THAT is when I discovered F’INE and Whanau Ora.

Initially, I heard about F’INE through one of my trans sisters. She explained to me that this organization would “pay or my laser!” As soon as I heard this I was like, “Wait, what? That’s unheard of, no one just pays for your laser.” I took a closer look into it and discovered that the person responsible for all this was none other than the infamous Phylesha Brown-Acton or more commonly known to some of us as Aunty Phy.

I immediately contacted her to gather more information relating to F’INE and she invited me to make an appointment, so we could discuss it further. So, I did.

After the first meeting with her – my life began to change.

All those goals that I neglected for almost 6 years, goals that would impact my journey significantly – I began to accomplish them within 6 months.

– I began my Gender Affirmation Therapy which included Hormone Replacement Therapy and Cosmetic Laser Treatment.
– I legally changed my changed my name and gender on a new passport.
– Through the support of F’INE I was elected to attend my first international Human Rights Forum in Sydney, Australia.

These are but a few of the many goals that I have achieved whilst being with F’INE. In such a short period of time, I was able to achieve the goals that would allow me to continue on my journey.

The most important goal for me was when I obtained my new passport – my new legal identity. To most of us it is a passport for travel BUT to me, it is a passport to live – to exist. To be recognized as your authentic self, wherever you are.

Why F’INE?

Simply put it is a one of a kind service that supports one of a kind individuals. For me, F’INE and Whanau Ora is no ordinary service provider because it encompasses a wide variety of support dedicated to the growth and wellbeing of individuals in a family context. It encourages self-discipline through it’s ‘Goal-Setting’ program and provides insightful service to its clients.

At F’INE I believe that it creates a safe space for our Pacific LGBT+ community to express themselves without the fear of being marginalised AND it offers opportunities to those who seek and grants access to those who achieve.

Since being with F’INE, the goals that I have achieved has EMPOWERED me to grow and become a better person. I have been able to contribute the following o my family and my community through the following:

● Health and Wellbeing- by encouraging healthier lifestyle choices.
● Education – by placing emphasis on the benefits of higher education at any level.
● Advocacy – by pushing for positive changes within our Pacific and LGBT+ communities here in New Zealand and within the Pacific region.
● Culture – by sharing my talent, skills and knowledge with others and raising the profile of our Pacific LGBT+ as choreographers, costume designers and composers.

Looking ahead I hope to see F’INE grow. As an empowered recipient of this organization, I too have a responsibility to those that will come after me. To advocate for more! More resources and more support – so that other Pacific LGBT families, communities and individuals may benefit from the service that I’ve received.

Thank you!

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