‘We don’t have to kill our­selves’

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

Zion Ki­tiseni longs to wear dresses, but says most days she has to choose clothes she can run or fight in.

The 17-year-old took to Face­book on Thurs­day night with a plea to Porirua mayor Nick Leggett to help cre­ate a day for Porirua’s LGBTI com­mu­nity.

The ges­ture was needed be­cause her home city was not safe for trans­gen­der peo­ple, she said. ‘‘Be­ing punched in the back of the head when you’re walk­ing is nor­mal here.

‘‘I’m just al­ways happy when it’s not some­thing more than a punch.’’

She is plan­ning to move to Auck­land where she felt she would be more ac­cepted, but un­til then wanted some­thing to show Porirua that trans­peo­ple were harm­less. Ki­tiseni said there were many trans­gen­der peo­ple in Porirua, but they were liv­ing in fear.

‘‘Most trans in Porirua won’t come out of their houses and I want a day where we can come out and be safe...[and] see peo­ple in colours sup­port­ing us.

"We don’t have to kill our­selves to make peo­ple happy. We’ve been hid­ing so long, we’ve had no sun­shine on our faces.’’

Ki­tiseni said that in a city famed for its Pasi­fika flavour, she wanted to cel­e­brate some­thing some Pasi­fika peo­ple frowned upon.

‘‘Is­lan­ders of­ten have is­sues with trans­peo­ple be­cause of their church teach­ing.’’

She left her own church af­ter her pas­tor de­liv­ered a ser­mon on gay peo­ple go­ing to hell.

‘‘I was just sit­ting there in church feel­ing he was talk­ing about me.’’

Ki­tiseni said she hadn’t al­ways been an an­gel, but she wanted to be able to walk around the city with­out be­ing ha­rassed.

‘‘It’s be­cause I’ve grown up here and peo­ple know that I used to be a male. They drive by and yell things at me… ‘Kill your­self’, that’s my name.’’

She was over­whelmed by the sup­port she got to her call for help on Face­book.

‘‘The mayor said ev­ery day should be a safe day for us, but it isn’t like that so I just want one spe­cial day.’’

Leggett re­fused to be drawn on whether a pa­rade was some­thing the coun­cil would sup­port, but said his of­fice was al­ways open if Ki­tiseni wanted to talk to him.

Zion Ki­tiseni said Porirua is a dan­ger­ous place for peo­ple like her.

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