“Alone it’s tough, TOGETHER IT’S EASY": Hedesthia, Aotearoa New Zealand’s First Trans Organisation, 1972-1990

  • Will Hansen


Founded in 1972, Hedesthia was a social, support, and advocacy group for transvestites and transsexuals - the first organisation of its kind in Aotearoa New Zealand. Hedesthia provided support to its members through monthly meetings, a bi-monthly newsletter, and various other services which included hot-line counselling and a lending library. For many members, Hedesthia and its o-shoot group, TransFormation, were lifelines in a world that could be intensely hostile to trans people. Pathbreaking in their trans activism, Hedesthia and TransFormation’s leaders diligently advocated for trans issues in their local communities. Yet Hedesthia also cultivated a transnormative politics of respectability. Largely middle-class and white, Hedesthia's leaders worked hard to define their members as ‘normal’ and acceptable, and in the process denigrated Māori and Pasifika trans sex workers.