Kai Clancy, Activist and Brotherboy

Photo Margot Fink
BY Spencer Monday, 12 June 2017

Kai is a 19 year old Aboriginal Brotherboy from Wakka Wakka and Wulli Wulli nations. 

Kai came out as transgender when he was 17 years old. I was excited to sit down with another trans guy, and find out more about how his cultural background influences his identity. 

“Growing up was pretty decent. I grew up with my Mum, my Dad and my sister in Townsville and we had a pretty – um - alright life. Dad worked in a mine, and Mum stayed at home. We did a lot of cultural stuff together, which meant I was always taught to do woman’s dance and woman’s song.  I guess I felt a little bit uncomfortable doing all of that given that I’m transgender.”

“It was fine until I hit puberty; that’s when things started to go downhill. I started to not be myself and tried to conform to society’s expectations of a female. At 17, at the end of high school I just came out as transgender and things looked up.”

“Coming out was pretty subtle, I have to say, because ‘Kai’ is just a shortened version of my birth name, so people thought I just did a big typo on Facebook when I changed it. I had to actually say ‘yeah, look I’m tryna’ come out to you guys’ but they didn’t get it. I’d put up statuses like ‘I wanna be a boy’ but people would write stuff like ‘You’re drunk. Go home.’” 

Kai chuckled to himself and smiled. So when I started testosterone people were like ‘oh you’re actually serious.’” 

“They’re all good with it y’know, you just get a few haters here and there, but that’s fine. Who cares about them?“

“Overall my community reacted pretty well, because they’ve known me for a long time. My friends know me pretty well and I guess they saw it coming to be honest. For the wider community, especially the Aboriginal community, surprisingly being in an urban setting (just like the city Aboriginal setting) they’ve been pretty like, accepting of me, I hear in other Aboriginal communities it can be quite tough and um – ‘difficult’ to come out as transgender.”

“One of my biggest supports would have to be my Dad. He’s an Aboriginal man and I seriously thought ‘Wow! Like my dad, is he going to accept me or not?’ That was my biggest fear just - Dad, like how will he take it?. “

“He cried when he found out, he was really, really happy for me. He was just like crying tears of joy. So, yeah. he’s been really good, promising to take me boxing and training and stuff. 

Typical father-son things. “

“I’d just started testosterone when I told him, and I guess the imbalance of hormones made me feel pretty, err, emotional. 

Ah! I bawled my eyes out as well. Haha.”

Kai seemed to have a pretty awesome view on his coming out. As a white guy, I was interested to find out more about his cultural influences and how they shaped his identity.

“There’s definitely differences for indigenous transgender people. For me in my transition there’s a big focus on my cultural identity and being Aboriginal. Traditionally Aboriginal culture surround the man and the woman, and you’re pretty much tied down to that for your whole life. Growing up, y’know, I was taught ‘the woman’ and there’s a big focus on being a woman, and to transition to male is culturally like the polar opposite of what I knew.“

“Being Aboriginal I cop a bit of flack ‘cause some people just don’t get Aboriginal people and they’ll just ask inappropriate, somewhat racist questions about my identity.”

“I think tolerance and, y’know, acceptance of transgender people  Australia wide would be great. Less transphobia obviously, and more awareness and visibility of transgender people within the queer community and mainstream Australia. I think that there needs to be adequate health care for transgender people, especially with regard to mental health services. The monopoly on transgender health care is really wrong and people shouldn’t be capitalising and making a lot of money off our hardship.” 

“To other young trans people, look, stay strong. I can’t really speak for other people, it can just be hard sometimes. I don’t have the right answers, but if you’re ever going through struggles with your gender identity and you need someone to talk to just look out online, at your local health centre and most importantly talk to someone about it. Talk to a professional, talk to a friend get support networks and get help through your journey now, no matter what.”