"I came from a pretty rough go. I was in a rehab treatment facility before coming to Two Good. Because I’m a New Zealand citizen, I'm not entitled to Centrelink or any social housing; I'm not given any safety nets. So I really, really needed a job to earn money for basic necessities again, like toothpaste and clothing.
Two Good were doing induction days around different facilities and my case manager said, ‘Hey, this is really great organization that a few of the other girls have been hooked up with; we feel as though we can give you this opportunity to just get a bit of money behind you”.
I’m going to be really honest, I was pretty unsure, at first…it was just the fear of being judged, or not being understood in the capacity that I wanted. But I reluctantly agreed to just listen to what they had to say. So, Daf came in and sat down, and I’m just looking at her feeling so guarded - she doesn't know the struggle, she doesn’t know the things I’ve gone through, she won’t understand the things I’m ashamed of, she can't relate to me, you know? And it wasn't until she said,
“we're not therapists, we’re not counsellors – we’re here to give you the skills you need to use us as a platform to springboard off of.”
And I thought to myself, that's really something I could use…because I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, in terms of a job.
I had a retail manager's role for quite a few years, before I got in trouble with the law and went to rehab. When I got out of jail and was applying for jobs, they would approach me with the same routine question - do I have a criminal history? And I was embarrassed, you know, so I’d either lie about it and they would look me up and they'd be like, dang, she's got a criminal history - or I’d be getting rejected from jobs that would normally hire me on the spot, even if I had this really great skill set – because I also had a record.
So I was figuring out what my next move was going to be – and when Daf mentioned that there was a concierge position, it really piqued my interest. I came in to do a trial round, with no expectations of what was going to actually work for me.
YESTERDAY, TODAY, TWOMORROW.
When I first came in, I was really scared…but thing that really sold it to me was that it was all women. And that was really powerful for me, because I had never been in a space where it had just been women. Everyone was so amazing from the first day I got here. There were things I thought they would judge me about; but they were so accepting, of every part of me.
Once I started getting into the program a bit further and they asked, well, what are the things that are hindering you from being able to do what you want to do? I said, “Look, I've got criminal history; it's quite extensive and I'm scared to look at that. I’ve honestly not looked at it properly, because of the fear that it's going to stop me from going for jobs that I really want to go for. What do we do?”
So they linked me up with another great service in their community, Success Works, who said, “We work with women with criminal history. Please stop doubting your skills - you're going to get a job that you want.” And that just boosted my confidence so much - I was just like, wow, there's all these women around me that actually understand me.
To be able to work through all of that – to come into a space that allowed me to gain employment, but also work on the other issues that surround it all. Two Good was there to give me employable skills, but also give me all these other tools to figure out how to do it for myself…and that really spoke to me. Not only have they given me the strategies or the knowledge to deal with those questions about my history now, but also just to get that confidence back in myself to apply for jobs that I would really love.
The more I got to know my team, the more I really wanted to be my best with whatever they brought in front of me. To know we were all here with the same goal in mind, too - that we are here to really make a difference in these women’s lives, in whatever way we can.
Everything here is done with beautiful intention – I have so many problems when it comes to my everyday life, but I know when I go into work and say to the girls, “I need to go deal with this”, that they will be more than happy for me to go and take the time to sort my life out. Even just making sure I’m eating - if I'm running late for a house inspection or something, they make sure I go to the kitchen and grab a meal to take with me. So I'm not only changing what I want to do, but also the self care factor…my value has changed.
“I had a lot of times where I undersold myself, but now I know my self worth.”
All because of these girls and because of this team behind me that has kept saying, no, you are worth way more than you think you are. I don't know where I would be without them.
Coming out of a rehab treatment facility…I thought my life was over because I had messed up. But they've loved me in a way that only sisters can love me, you know? They’ve become family now. And I know I'm going to still be supported after I leave here…ever since Daf mentioned the Alumni in that first induction day. Whatever may be going on, if I can't find the answers for myself, I know that I’ll have the sisterhood to come back to.
Work Work gave me time - that was really important. I'm learning every day…but at the same time, I'm being paid to learn and to pursue. It gave me the time to figure out what I really enjoyed.
I knew that I didn't want to be a kitchenhand, and I wanted to do something front of the house. When Daf suggested that I go for the Concierge role, I went to Yirranma Place and the women there told me what the job entailed - I loved getting to pick their brains about how they got into their jobs, and about the Yirranma Place building itself. I realised, my god, I love a job that allows me to research the history of a place, or work somewhere that has a cultural aspect, and I loved engaging with the public.
When I was going for the job, they said, we just want you to know, there are personalities that are really suited for concierge roles – and you have that. I was a bit blown away…I didn't know I had this trait about myself, that was so perfect for a particular job, until someone pointed it out…but it was so true. And they gave me that opportunity and the time to learn all this for myself. There was no pressure to perform, it was all done in my own time, it was all done with love, and it was all done with such care.
“I didn't just get a job; I got a brand-new career, and a complete change in the direction of my life.”
I now open myself up to the possibility that I can do whatever I want to do…you know, maybe I'm not just going to be a waitress in a museum cafe, maybe I can be the curator of the museum. I see all of this now because they showed me that I can, you know?
I needed time to really be with myself and figure out where my place in Sydney was…and with Two Good by me, I'm finding it. I'm really understanding where I fit within this community. I came from a background of trauma, and addiction, and being shamed; I was not accepted by my family. I mean, I’m still not…I don't have many family who speak to me, to this day. I moved to Australia as a form of escapism, just trying to find where I fit in.
It took me a very long time to come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but I also learned that there’s such a big community out there that loved me for just who I am. Not just the gay community, but Sydney as a whole, has a really amazing community of people within it that are loving and accepting and see you for who you are and for the valued member of society that you can be.
I've come to learn so much about myself, just because of the great connections that Two Good allowed me to make. I was even invited to open up an art gallery tomorrow by a really prominent member of the trans community, as her plus one - and I wouldn't have made that connection if I wasn't working the desk on that day.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY.
Being trans is just one part of who I am - it’s not the whole totality of myself. But I really am a big advocate on educating people on what being trans entails, especially in the climate that we find ourselves in at the moment; there's so much opportunity for us now that we didn’t have 10 years ago. Businesses like Two Good and the Paul Ramsay Foundation are really leading the way for girls like me to be included in these conversations, as women.
It’s a big part of why I feel confident enough these days to speak up - Two Good have nurtured me to a point where I feel so safe telling my story and adding trans representation to International Women’s Day.
“I want the other girls out there who are like me, or have been in similar situations, to know that there are spaces where they are going to be loved; where they're going to be cared for.”
It always felt like I was just another one of the girls – it was never, ‘oh, she's trans’, it was always just, ‘you are a woman’. I was treated the same as everyone else from the get-go and it just made me so much more confident in who I was.
Even with the men that work here - for me, that’s always been an issue, because men can be quite standoffish, or even pretty horrible about the fact that I’m a trans girl, you know? But every single one of them has shown me such respect and kindness…and the dignity that I deserve as a human.
I’ve had an experience of love, compassion, kindness, nurturing. I can see where I want to go with this platform they’re giving me…and I just want other trans girls to know that this organization fully supports girls like us. You will not be treated any differently - everyone is afforded the same opportunities. But it's what you make of it that really matters.
There’s no other organization out there that gives so much of themselves to the people they're trying to help. They changed my life…and I'm eternally grateful for everything that they’ve done for me.