This month Little Miss Cinnamon talks to a mighty fine specimen of a man, Nick Winchester. Not only is he one of Christchurch’s go-to-guys when it comes to supporting the trans community and being a trans advocate, he’s just a bloody good human.
When he’s not working full time in the IT industry, juggling family life with his husband and kids, hiking the mountains with his pooch and volunteering for St Johns (phew!), you’ll find Nick not only at the steering wheel of an ambulance but also of his non-profit organisation ‘Kindred’ which provides support and mentoring for trans youth and their families in Christchurch. Where he finds the time and energy is beyond me, but I’m very thankful Otautahi has him! Did I also mention he represented Christchurch as Mr Bear Canterbury? Grrr!
You provide support for parents and young people who are questioning their gender, where did you find support during your gender journey?
I provide this support because it didn’t exist when I was younger. If it did I wouldn’t have waited till I was 27 to transition. My ‘ah-ha’ moment came when I went to the ‘Assume Nothing’ exhibition at the Canterbury Museum, I finally had words and a path of action for what I was feeling. When I did finally come out, I got support from other trans guys who had been through the same thing.
What do you feel is the biggest issue facing the parents/family of young trans people?
It’s a combination of societal acceptance and a health system that’s confusing and difficult to navigate. Families can often feel isolated and alone along this journey.
Gender identity and sexual orientation are two different things but many people get these confused, what is another common misconception you have encountered?
That everyone wants to transition in the same way, becoming hyper-feminine or hyper-masculine. I wear more makeup now as a guy than I ever did as a girl.
How can schools or workplaces support our trans community in feeling safe and accepted?
Gender-neutral spaces, not just the one token area but all areas being gender neutral so as not to single out trans people. Additionally, speak up when you hear someone say something offensive, not all trans people will have the energy to constantly fight for their right to exist without question, so speak up and help them out!
What is some advice you would give to a young person or their parents at the beginning of their gender journey?
You’re not alone and it gets better. All humans are on a journey of transition, from birth to old age, this is just an added extra. We are in a really special place where we get to truly plan and shape who we want to be.
If you could go back in time and talk to your 13-year-old self what would you say?
As cliche as it sounds, that it gets better. I’d also explain the trans thing and start the ball rolling then instead of waiting.
How can the rainbow and wider community support or trans youth and community?
Support, understanding and patience. Not forgetting that we are still generally more marginalised in society and still very much the targets of awful vitriol and abuse. Help us, stand up for us, don’t forget us and sure don’t ignore us as we all try to move towards acceptance and progress.
What’s one of the biggest myth regarding the trans community?
That we all want full surgery.
What is Kindred working on currently and how can people support you?
Kindred is working on support and education for young trans people and their families. Currently top of our list is helping these kids get comfortable with themselves and helping the parents feel far less alone in the process.
Kindred is a Christchurch based support organisation specialising in mentoring trans and gender questioning youth and their families and can be contacted via email at email@example.com