In October 2012, WCHM partnered with local transgender and intersex support organisation A Gender Agenda to host an event at the Street Theatre for Mental Health Week. The aim was partly to highlight the disproportionate rates of mental illness experienced by transgender and intersex people, but also to bring diverse members of ACT’s community together to have conversations about gender as an important aspect of everyone’s lives.
Re Think Man Woman was an interactive theatre event that gave audience members the opportunity to tell stories from their own lives, and have actors and musicians create a piece of improvised theatre in response. Canberra Playback Theatre members prompted stories from the audience about changing gender identity; early moments of being conscious of gender; having their gender misread; arriving at a gender identity that fits; and many more. Some stories were about a moment or a feeling; others were long narratives that spanned a lifetime. There were funny stories and stories that were deeply affecting. Every story was moving in some way, and combined they contributed to an event that was intimate, conversational, inclusive, and highly thought-provoking. Gender is an aspect of everyone’s identity, and many people go through complex and often painful negotiations around this identity throughout their lives—Re Think Man Woman provided members of the ACT community with the opportunity to explore and celebrate gender identities, in all their diversity. The event was made possible through a grant from the ACT Health Directorate.