Belle’s last wish
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-