I was re-elected as a genuine independent Councillor in the City of Hobsons Bay in 2012, having been first elected in 2008. I also served as Mayor (2011-12) and two terms as Deputy Mayor (2009-10 and 2010-11).
Over the years on the council, I have served on a number of committees including:
- Chair, Hobson Bay City Disability Advisory Group;
- Chair, Hobsons Bay Multicultural Advisory Group;
- Chair, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer Advisory Committee;
- Chair, Truganina Explosives Reserve Advisory Committee;
- Council delegate, Municipal Association of Victoria;
- Special Planning Committee (council delegate);
- Hobsons Bay Urban Planning and Development Advisory Group (Chair 2008 – 2010, community representative 2005 – 2008);
- Hobsons Bay Commercial and Audit Board (2008 – 2010);
- Police Community Consultative Committee;
- Youth Voice Committee; and
- Hobsons Bay Interfaith Network.
I am also a Bail Justice and Justice of the Peace, and was the Co-convenor of the Hobsons Bay Residents Association for five years prior to being elected to the Hobsons Bay City Council. Previous community roles includes foster carer (1996 to 2010), member of the Western Health Ethics Committee, President of the Seabrook Community Centre, President of the Genetic Support Network of Victoria, and community representative on various Victorian Ministerial Advisory Committees. I am a former Senior Public Servant and am currently completing a Law Degree. I am also an Honorary Fellow of Victoria University (awarded in 1991).
My qualifications, training and experience – along with my passion for our community – have helped develop my skills to be a effective community representative and advocate. People I work with know I can lead and influence with honour and integrity and make tough decisions when necessary.
The following information is provided to help people understand who I am on a more personal level, particularly given my genetic intersex condition and some of the media articles about it. (Note that intersex conditions are sometimes also referred to as Disorders of Sexual Development, but I like to consider them as just a variation in nature).
The first thing parents are told when a baby is born is whether their baby is a boy or a girl. In my case, doctors weren’t sure because I was born with physical attributes of both sexes as well as missing attributes of both (i.e. a genetic intersex condition). This means I am biologically not exclusively male or female but parts of both. My doctor immediately referred me to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne who ran a number of tests including chromosomal karyotyping, hormonal analysis, a laparotomy and biopsies. They diagnosed me with an intersex condition called “Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome” and the treatment paradigm – like elsewhere in the world at the time – dictated that I was to be raised as a girl, have any male physical attributes surgically removed if possible, and not told the truth about my condition. This was a particularly difficult time for my parents.
I was named Antoinette and raised as a girl. I went to Mount Saint Joseph’s Girls’ College in Altona and lived as a woman until I learned the truth about my condition and sought to find out who I would have been had the medical profession not sought to “normalise” me. I didn’t have a gender identity issue; I just wanted to be the person nature had intended. Frankly, after learning about my condition I felt like I was living a lie as a woman given I did not have a complete female reproductive system and was also born with some internal male organs.
I subsequently took male hormones for a few years and after my voice deepened and I grew hair in places where I never had hair before, it started getting more difficult being “Antoinette” so I had my identity documentation changed to state I was male. I didn’t particularly feel male because I didn’t have all the basic male attributes and the male upbringing, but it made public life easier. I still don’t feel male.
Years later I feel very comfortable having accepted my true nature. I am not male or female, but both. I am grateful for the years I lived as a woman and the insight and experiences it gave me. I am still “Antoinette” and have now also incorporated and accepted my male (“Anthony” or “Tony”) side. I feel whole. I’ll continue to live as “Tony” but I am now at a point in my life where I can celebrate being different. I no longer use male pronouns and prefer to be recognised the way nature made me – male and female.
I am also lucky to have met a woman that loves me the way I am and am now happily engaged. We don’t have the right to marry in this country, but I will continue to pursue that, along with getting a birth certificate that accurately reflects what I am (my birth certificate is silent as to my sex). We’re getting married in New Zealand later this year.
I am very touched that despite my condition the Altona and Hobsons Bay community has always accepted me. I think it shows our community is genuinely accepting and understanding of people who are different.
The following articles are just some examples of things I’ve done or articles written about me and my condition. My personal story has also been featured twice on 60 Minutes and I continue to advocate strongly for the rights of children born with intersex conditions and their families: