Goodbye to a wonderful man

I have only just heard the news of the death of Professor Alfred Steinbeck.

I first met my dear professor (as I came to call him) in February 1997 when I attended his consulting rooms in Bondi Junction following a referral from my doctor.

The Professor was a first-rate endocrinologist and probably treated thousands of trans folk over the years.  We had a long chat and to my surprise, he prescribed estrogen injections and anti-androgens on that first visit.

I saw him every three months after that until late in 2002 when he decided that I no longer needed to see him.  He was there when I transitioned in 1998 and was there for me when I had SRS in February 2002.

We often hear tales of  “gate keepers” and about the hoops we have to jump through in order to access treatment for gender dysphoria.  I never felt that.  I felt I was always in control of my journey from presenting as male to presenting as female.  And it was because of the kindness and respect shown to me by professionals such as Professor Steinbeck that I felt this way.

The professor has been such an important person in my life.  I am deeply grieved at his passing.

An obituary appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Good-bye dear friend.

Law Reform Report Released

It’s been a long process but the report of the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council to the ACT Attorney-General concerning the legal recognition of members of the sex and gender diverse community has finally been released.

Beyond the Binary: legal recognition of sex and gender diversity in the ACT

Yours truly gets a mention in the acknowledgements.

It’s time now to start lobbying the polititians to implement the recommendations.

Meanwhile…

Family: I’ve had lots of cuddles with my latest grandchild – he’s so cute.  His dad and big sister appeared on page 3 of Wednesday’s Canberra Times riding their bikes around the lake. I’ll be going to Brisbane for a while to visit my youngest daughter, R, and her family (I have 3 gorgeous grandkids up there and miss them heaps).  I’ll be catching up with daughter 2, J, during the week and having fun with her two kids. I visited my sister at Jervis Bay for the See Change Art Festival and had a great time  – our youngest sister was also down there.  We then all headed for Sydney to celebrate youngest sister’s 50th birthday.

Friends: We had a Euro Vision Party the other week and had a ball.  Tonight we’re off to Pulp Kitchen for a dinner.  Last night we attempted to visit the Silk Road Markets at the National Museum – so did half of Canberra.  It was mayhem! I was the only one who actually got there and I didn’t stay.

Books: I saw Jeffrey Eugenides at the National Library the other week and bought Middlesex and The Marriage Plot – enjoyed them both.  I also dusted off To Kill a Mockingbird and enjoyed that immensely.  I completed a survey conducted by ACT Health and the ANU and consequently won a $100 Amazon gift voucher.  I may buy some books on poetry.

Carpe Diem

It’s a boy

Grandchild number 7 was born last Friday.  Lots of trauma during the birth but mum and bub are both fine and are now home. I arrived home from Sydney on Sunday and went straight to the hospital for a cuddle.

My baby sister turned fifty on Saturday and we had a family get-together at Parramatta.

May Day

Well bugger me! It’s May already.

So what have I been up to over the last couple of months?

Family: We’ve had a few family get-togethers.  My eldest grandchild, KMan, turned 7 and we had a party for him.  On Easter Sunday we gathered at my daughter J’s place for an easter-egg hunt and we had a family Dinner to celebrate a visit from my Queensland family.  Daughter K’s pregnancy is going well and bub is due later this month.  K is looking forward to starting maternity leave.

Friends: I continue to have regular dinners with BFF and her family which is always nice.  Our group of friends have also had a couple of restaurant nights, Friday night drinks, the odd lunch and a trivia night!  I managed to catch up with my former university workmates  for a lunch.  They want me back but I tell them they can’t afford me.

Movies: I went to the movies a couple of times over the past few weeks.  First I saw Coriolanus which I enjoyed but found a little jarring at times – a brave effort to present a Shakespeare play, originally set in ancient Rome, in modern-day Bosnia.  I also saw Margin Call with great performances from Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, Simon Baker and others.  And of course, over the Easter weekend I dusted off my Chocolat DVD and had a good laugh and a bit of a cry.  I love that film.

Books: Ian McEwan’s Black Dogs has been sitting on my bookshelf for years and I finally read it.  He is a fine writer.  I also opened my copy of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare and read Coriolanus before going to see the movie.  One of my farewell presents when I finished working at the university last year was a signed copy of  Tim Bonyhady’s book Good Living Street, a story of several generations of his family from their life in Vienna, patronage of the arts, flight from Austria with the rise of nazism and life in Sydney, Australia.

Culture: My sister visited and we went along to the Renaissance Exhibition at the National Gallery.  It was interesting in that it covered a period when artists were beginning to use oil paints and moving to canvas.  There were some brilliant pieces but also a lot of pretty average stuff.  I much preferred the Picasso exhibition in Sydney that we saw in February.  While my sister was here, we also visited the Canberra Glassworks which was a real eye-opener.  It’s been around for a few years now, but this was my first visit.

Reunion: My high school classmates got together recently to celebrate our collective recent-or-near-future 60th birthdays.  The turnout was not as great as previous years but there were a few guys turn up who I hadn’t seen at previous reunions.  This was quite interesting given we went to an all boys school.  I was chatting to a couple of my classmates when another came up and asked me how I knew the two guys I was talking to.  I told him I went to school with them and then watched as he slowly processed this information.  It took a while for the penny to drop.  A photographer who came to take some photos also wanted to know how I was associated with this group of old, grey, balding men and seemed quite surprised when I explained that I went to school with them.  It was a good day and I look forward to our next reunion which will be in late 2014.

Other:  My new year resolution to keep the weight off is going well.  I’m now 16.5 kg lighter than I was last August! I just love being able to wear some of my old clothes.  The local ABC radio station has been reading out cryptic crossword clues during the Breakfast program and inviting listeners to come up with the answers.  I have been getting a few mentions on air (as Peta of Holt) for my solving ability.  Canberra is beautiful at this time of year as the leaves turn bright yellow, gold, red and orange.  I’ll need to turn on the heating soon.

Well, that’s about all I can recall.  Next post should have a photo of my new grandchild.

Tempus fugit

I’ve just returned to Canberra after another delightful few days at Jervis Bay.  And here we are at the end of February already.

I am really enjoying my retirement!

It has been a very mild and wet summer but I’m not complaining about that.  I have never seen Canberra look so green at the end of Summer.  We’ve only had a handful of days where the thermometer has nudged above 30.  Nevertheless, I managed to spend 3 days lazing on the beach at Jervis Bay in early January.

I’ve seen another couple of movies and enjoyed them both – Midnight in Paris and The Descendants.  And I just love the quote from the Descendants where George Clooney’s character says “you give your children enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing”.

We had a bit of a family gathering last Saturday night.  A cousin’s son does a Roy Orbison Tribute show and was playing at the Huskisson RSL Club.  Three of my cousins, a brother and a sister and their partners were all there to enjoy a dinner and the show.  The show itself was actually very good and it is always nice to catch up with the cousins.  We generally only get to see each other at funerals!  I also had a ball with some of my sister’s friends who joined our table.

Earlier this week my sister and I travelled to Sydney to see the Picasso Exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW.  It was wonderful.  What many people do not know it that he was a very good drawer and could have followed a conventional path of painting life-like portraits and still-lifes but chose to take his art in a brilliant, unconventional direction.  I’ve booked tickets for my sister and me to see the Renaissance Exhibition at the National Gallery in 4 weeks time.

My youngest daughter and her family have moved to Brisbane and I really miss them, especially the 3 grandkids.  I’ll plan to head north during the winter and spend some time with them.  We spent a lot of time with them before they left.  My other two daughters are still here and we have had a couple of birthday parties for 4 and 2 year olds already this year.  And grandchild number 7 is due at the end of May.

The pace at which this year is flying by means that it will be no time at all before the new arrival is enjoying the cuddles and love of our family.

Carpe Diem.

The year that was

Birthday Cake

2011 saw its fair share of natural disasters, political unrest and economic uncertainty but, for me, it was a pretty good year  (as years go).

I worked closely with the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council which was tasked with recommending to the government how to implement changes identified by the Australian Human Rights Commission.  In early December I saw a confidential draft of the Council’s report to government and can say that I am pleased with the recommendations.  The ball will be in the government’s court now to legislate to protect the human rights of trans people.

At the national level (and quite out of the blue) the Federal Government announced a new policy for the issuing of passports to members of the sex and gender diverse communities.  Apart from no longer requiring a person to undergo surgery in order for their gender to be recognised officially, much of the red tape was done away with.  And I am now the proud possessor of an Australian Passport.

It was the year I decided to finally retire from paid employment.  My last working day was 20 December and at my farewell, our Director has some very nice words to say about me and made it clear that if I should ever change my mind, a job would be available to me at the University.

It was the year I turned 60.  I arranged a big party for family and friends and it was a splendid affair if I do say so myself.  A week before the party, M & I took me to Material Pleasures, an op shop that stocks and sells some pretty classy labels.  I bought a couple of dresses, some linen pants, a top and a long skirt.  On the day of the party I went over to BFF’s house where her daughter did my makeup and she did my hair and nails.  I think I brushed up pretty well.

And it was the year I lost over 14kg.  In August my doctor read me the riot act concerning my weight and lack of exercise.  I have taken to walking like a duck to water and am happy to say I have dropped a couple of dress sizes.  I can wear clothes I thought I would never wear again.  My BMI has gone from “overweight” (approaching “obesity”) to “healthy”.

At the start of the year I saw “Black Swan” at the movies and finished the year by seeing “The Skin I Live In”.  I could watch Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya all day!  Gina over at Skip the Makeup has an excellent review.

I expect 2012 to have more natural disasters, more political unrest and more economic upheaval.

But I’m planning to have a great year and am looking forward to the birth of my 7th grandchild.

Birthday Wishes

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