• "I had to grow a thick skin as a young kid all because of the colour of my skin." (SBS)Source: SBS
Filmmaker, youth advocate and Kalkadoon and Bwgcolman brotherboy Taz Clay explores what being Indigenous means to him.
By
Taz Clay

9 Nov 2016 - 8:45 AM  UPDATED 9 Nov 2016 - 10:01 AM

I have two very big identities that make up who I am. I’m a Kalkadoon (Mt Isa) and Bwgcolman (Palm Island) brotherboy (female to male transgender Aboriginal person).

Growing up I had no sense of what being Indigenous was, let alone knowing who and where I really was from. When I really realised that being Indigenous was something I should be proud of it was at the shops. I saw an Aboriginal family was there and they had bracelets on that had flags on it. And I thought ‘damn why wasn’t I proud like this mob?’ From that day I decided that I was going to be proud of the heritage that I have. What it means specifically for me to be Indigenous is that I am a part of a culture that is strong but also diminishing, especially in the last 200 years after the invasion.

I have also found strength in the resilience of my people, found the pride I was never allowed to have, found the beauty in the apparent dirt of being Indigenous.

I’m a part of a minority group in Australia that is sometimes made to feel like nothing but the dirt on the bottom of people’s shoes and many people have made me feel that way. I’m a part of a family so big that when people want a family tree drawn I need two pieces of paper.

What it means for me to be Indigenous is that I had to grow a thick skin as a young kid, all because of the colour of my skin. I have suffered abuse for trying to find out who I really was and what it meant to be Indigenous in Australia for me. While there are a lot of negatives, I have also found strength in the resilience of my people, found the pride I was never allowed to have, found the beauty in the apparent dirt of being Indigenous.

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I’m now incorporated in to a group where not only do I carry cross-hairs for being Indigenous but also being transgender. This identity as a brotherboy is only something that I have developed into very recently; it’s been interesting to see the changes of who I am and how I’m perceived. These are both very strong and formative identities. They all come with baggage but I’ve learnt that the good always outweighs the bad. Being Indigenous and transgender are the two most important things about me and that will never change.

If we truly want equality and understanding, both sides of the fence, be open minded try and educate yourself on issues facing the Indigenous community. Listen when an Indigenous person says something is racist or unfair. It’s not a race card thing; we deal with discrimination almost on a daily basis  - pretty sure we know it when we call it. Love everyone; be nice, accepting and non-judgemental.

Taz Clay is a Kalkadoon and Bwgcolman brotherboy, filmmaker and advocate for headspace's Youth National Reference Group.

 


 

First Contact (season 2) airs on 29 November, 30 November and 1 December 2016 at 8:30pm on SBS. Across 28 Days, six well-known Aussies take an epic journey into Aboriginal Australia. Watch the trailer here, and catch-up on episodes after the program airs via SBS On Demand here.