Belle’s last wish

CALLFORGENDER EQUALITYMADE

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Classifieds - Emily Baker

IT’S not the gen­der but the per­son that mat­ters.

That is the mes­sage Belle Lake wanted to share with the world, says her mum Carol.

The late Is­abelle Elec­tra Lake, known to fam­ily and friends as Belle, was born a male.

How­ever, af­ter years of iso­la­tion and con­fu­sion, Ms Lake fi­nally iden­ti­fied as trans­gen­der.

“She was a re­ally happy child, but things got a lit­tle bit more dif­fi­cult at school and she strug­gled to fit in,” Mrs Lake said.

“There seems to be a mis­con­cep­tion among the gen­eral pub­lic that trans­gen­der women are very easy to pick as young chil­dren be­cause the boys start play­ing with dresses and dolls and things like that, but there was noth­ing to in­di­cate what the is­sue was. I felt re­lieved she fi­nally had an ex­pla­na­tion as to why she didn’t seem to fit in and as a mother, you get re­ally dis­tressed to see your child un­happy.”

It was dur­ing Belle’s first year at UWA that she, with the help of fam­ily, friends and Free­dom Cen­tre co-or­di­na­tor Dani Wright Tous­saint, started to un­der­stand her mind was fe­male.

The cen­tre, in the CBD, is a men­tal health pro­mo­tion ser­vice of the WA AIDS Coun­cil, which gives peer sup­port, in­for­ma­tion and re­fer­rals for the les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, trans, in­ter­sex and ques­tion­ing young peo­ple.

“There’s re­ally noth­ing else like this, there are so­cial sup­port groups on Face­book, and work done by the equal op­por­tu­ni­ties com­mis­sion and politi­cians,” Ms Wright Tous­saint said.

“But in terms of sup­port, the Free­dom Cen­tre does that in-per­son stuff and it is so valu­able.

“I re­mem­ber she ( Ms Lake) had the weight of the world on her shoul­ders, but af­ter she iden­ti­fied, she blos­somed as a per­son.”

Ms Lake was very pas­sion­ate about the Free­dom Cen­tre’s mis­sion to pro­mote the health and well­be­ing of young peo­ple’s sex­u­al­ity, sex and gen­der. She ded­i­cated many hours to vol­un­teer­ing to sup­port other young trans peo­ple.

Sadly, in 2008 at age 21, Belle died from leukaemia.

Her dy­ing wish was to leave a legacy that con­tin­ued the im­por­tant work through the Is­abelle Lake Memo­rial Fund.

Last month, Ms Lake’s con­tri­bu­tions were honoured with an in­duc­tion into the WA’s Women’s Hall of Fame on In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day. For more in­forma-

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