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CONFERENCE 2003 WELLINGTON NEW ZEALAND

After spending a very enjoyable week with my friend Fran, it is time to go to the Conference.

The week with Fran at her home, 9 floors up and overlooking Wellington Town and Harbour was fantastic. The ever-changing elements made interest, as did the comings and goings on the water. Seagulls past the window, riding effortlessly on the wind. Watching the fog roll in, and we were above it. To be sat on the balcony in the warm sunlight, and suddenly have to rush inside as a change came through. Fran took me around the Bay and up Mt Victoria to witness the Bay fully and to be in awe of the scope and beauty of the whole Wellington Region. I will never forget our endless chats, accompanied by a few Gins [Mothers Ruin] after the Sun was over the yardarm.

Fran bought a boat in Auckland and sailed it single handed down the East Coast of North Island to its new birth in Wellington. Naturally we went and looked at the "Patricia J", and the great pride of ownership and achievement was very apparent as Fran showed me her "Baby". A truly marvellous feat of Seamanship, or more correctly Seawomanship, not to mention the courage at the tender age of 67.

My gratitude also goes to Joan, Franís friend, who spent several hours with us at Franís home, and a very enjoyable evening at the Fishermanís wharf for a really superb meal. This Ladyís help and understanding of Franís and my position, before, during and after transition is awesome! Thank you, and bless you Joan.

DAY 1 FRIDAY 30/05/03

Now it is the first day of Conference at the West Plaza Hotel, where we held the last one in 2001

I was dropped off at the Hotel at about 10.30am, booked in, said my goodbyes to Fran, then walked to the centre for some shopping and a hairdo. The Vietnamese Lady the hairdresser and I talked about Kids, Travel and jewellery, all very enjoyable, plus a great hairdo.

From 3pm onwards, people were arriving to book in, and be welcomed by Janet and Claudia. I went down about 5.30pm to register and meet some of my friends from 2001, and new ones from this year. It was certainly great to meet up with people there for the first time, from all over NZ and from the Gold Coast in Australia. Also, our main speaker, Katherine Cummings from the Gender Centre in Sydney.

It was a very great pleasure for me to meet the Guys again, especially Cia and Peri and Periís Lady Karen. John Penny was his usual laid back person, and we were to enjoy several chats over the 3 days.

Eventually in for the opening session and to be welcomed by our Mistress of Ceremonies, Joanne from South Island. She started the evening in motion by introducing the Mayor of Wellington, Kerry Prendergast and then Marian Hobbs MP after first off Claudia.

After the opening it was time for finger food and lots of talking and meeting more Old and New Friends. Stefanie, Kerin, Christina, Kaye, Christine and her partner Carolyn and many more. Please excuse my not naming you all, but you are all Friends and "Beaut People".

I was introduced to Katy, who lived in Edmonton, a suburb of London, only to find that not only did we both live there, but also went to the same School, Edmonton County Grammar. However she was a little behind me, about 8 years I think. Amazing how these things happen throughout oneís life.

A very enjoyable evening was had by all and we all looked forward to Day 2 and the Workshops in the Morning, Official Speeches in the Afternoon and the Conference Dinner in the Evening.

DAY 2 SATURDAY 31/05/03

Saturday was the first full Day, and we went for Breakfast in small groups. From 10am we had 4 Workshops to choose from, with Rochelle and I running one on MtF

Surgery. I think that it went well, and would like some feed back by those who attended.

All the Workshops were well attended and drew people interested in the subjects on offer. At 12 noon we had an hour and a half break for lunch, before the 1.30pm Speakers Session. This was again introduced by our Mistress of Ceremonies, Joanne, who kept us to our allotted time.

First was Katherine Cummings, Whose dry, ready and acerbic wit was always in evidence. I know, as I was the recipient on several occasions. Thank you Katherine for a most enjoyable half-hour? I thought it was for an hour. Many there could have gone on listening to you for at least 2 hours, as it was so delightful to hear about the "Good Old Days" of the 40s, 50s and 60s!

After a short break, I was due to give a 20-minute update on the Agender Australia position. At the end of this, I managed to entice Janet onto the podium and present her with "McTavish" another Bear for her collection. This was from all in the Agender Australia Group. I also spoke of my other group for Transsexuals, and what we offer. This maybe of use in the future to Girls from NZ.

Eugene Moore was next and gave a very in depth account of his work on "Homophobic, Homophobia" well thatís what I think it was about! The work he is doing is excellent and could be of very great help in Australia to the same groups that he deals with here. Thank you Eugene, I found it all very interesting.

Last, but by no means least, was John Penny who gave an update on where, what and how the Agender NZ Committee was doing. Again great work and expanded horizons, with more to come in regard of TG health. Keep up the great work and a huge pat on the back to all of you, for the continuing dedication you give to our CAUSE.

There was a Focus group held by Jutta Humpfer, which I was unable to attend. Sorry that I cannot give a report on this section.

The evening started with Pre Dinner Drinks and photos in the Gibbons Bar. I think I managed to take photos of all there. If I missed anyone, please accept my apologies.

This was from 7 to 8pm. I was introduced to Christineís Mum, Hi Mum, you are a wonderful, wonderful Lady and it was my pleasure to meet you and to talk over some queries you had. We intend to stay in touch, as we are both very young 60 somethings!

Into the Dorset Suite at 8pm for dinner and a great selection to choose from. I must admit to having a few wines too many and staying chatting until gone Midnight. Everyone was moving around and talking and making, or renewing friendships. There were lots to talk about. Also, a very gifted young man was selling some beautiful jewellery, which many of us bought. I wear mine with pride and think about his talent whenever I wear or look at it. Thank you.

Now we are all looking forward to Sunday, especially the evening and the Beauty Pageant. Yes, Great Grandma has condescended to enter the last of the categories, after much pressure from several quarters! Also Karen has given into pressure, and will also take part in the last section.

SUNDAY 01/06/03

Sunday dawns, and again down for Breakfast before the AGM at 10am. Reports, election of officers and lively debate were all interesting. Katherine was in attendance and made a couple of very useful comments. Open Democracy in progress for a visitor to have their say!

Lunch from 12 till 1pm, then more workshops until 5.30pm. I attended an informal group to discuss where the Agender Organisation is headed in the future. Autonomy for Branches was discussed, and how it may operate within the Agender scheme of things. All in all a very in depth, worth while, interesting and useful hour.

Now for the serious part of the proceedings. Off to "Titivate, preen and hopefully beautify" in readiness for the Pageant. Comments are welcome, as they will be forth coming, like it or not!

Again our Mistress of Ceremonies, Joanne was in full flight and looked her usual gorgeous self. Unfortunately, Gareth was unable to attend, due to illness.

Most importantly, food first of all. Again a great selection which was quickly consumed before the real matters of the evening were commenced, The Pageant.

Event one was for Daywear, with 9 contestants. Really excellent, and well-done all of you. Final winner in this category was Debbie from Gisborne.

Event two was for Eveningwear with the same contestants, again well done Girls. The winner of this category was Simone from the Gold Coast.

Lastly was the grand Final, which Karen and I had been pushed into entering, so this now made eleven entrants. Again excellent, and the over all winner was Sarah from Wellington. Well done to all the entrants.

The pageant was very enjoyable, all the more so as we had 4 GUYS to take us on the display walk. Peri, Cia, Sidney and Andy, thank you. As usual your presence quelled some if not all of our Butterflies. Your presence as Male support was fantastic, without you, I think we would have been a shivering mess. Again thank you.

We partied on, as this was the last evening, until late. Kaye, Katy and I went to their room to finish off my Cheese and Pate, and have a little more wine! Thank you Girls, but to be given a dirty knife next morning----Well!!!

MONDAY 02/06/03

Last Morning. Lots of goodbyes, some of them tearful, but we have all vowed to keep in touch, until we meet again in 2005, if not before

This is not an after thought. I would like to propose a very great THANK YOU to the Hotel Staff, who again gave us excellent service, and I believe fully enjoyed our Company. I for one hope to see them all again in 2005.

TUESDAY 03/06/03

I have stayed on for an extra couple of Days, and enjoyed the luxury of doing my own thing. Monday was a day of rest and catching up on sleep. Tuesday morning I went shopping for Wine and a Sweet for the evening-----Last Supper---- with Janet, Claudia, Kerin and Stefanie, most enjoyable. Sad to have to say goodbye to all except Claudia who is taking me to the airport. I think she runs an admirable shuttle service!

The morning was spent with Donna and Sarah, who invited me to their home and made me very welcome. Thank you Ladies, I enjoyed your hospitality very much.

WEDNESDAY 04/06/03

The Morning is spent packing, ready for Claudia to take me to the airport for my return flight to Brisbane. My flight is at 3.30pm, so off we go and book in, have coffee and then say my final goodbye to Claudia. It proved to be a very uneventful flight home, where I was met by my Daughter Debby. Home at last, with plenty of time to reflect on all that has happened over the last 12 days. I will have plenty to occupy me, with all the friends to keep in touch with.

THURSDAY 05/06/03

Back to Business, calls from girls and enquiries from new ones, who may turn up at our Anniversary on the 14th of June.

I have read Katherineís book, and agree with her mention of her "Acerbic Wit" which is also mentioned in the reviews. As one who has been the butt of this, with others listening, I can only say we enjoyed it immensely. Having read your book, I would recommend it to many of our ilk, as well as those trying to come to terms with people like us. It is so open and very honest. Thank you Kate for allowing me the privileged insight into your life. By the way, I too had a phantom Penis for about 2 weeks. Every time I sat to pee, I tried to tuck it into the bowl. Glad to report all gone now. I look forward to seeing you in the future.

Lastly, to all there at Wellington 2003, LOVE and HUGS to you all.

Kathy Anne Noble



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