‘We don’t have to kill ourselves’
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.