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Leading the Way with Tamsin Anspach

Tamsin Anspach is a testament to the power of one person. While the desire to make a difference lives in the minds of many, Tamsin is on the frontlines, leading community organisations toward a better future.

A proud trans woman, Tamsin's dedication to leadership, governance, and advocacy has been on display throughout her entire career. Nothing, not even her own self-doubt, can hold her back. We celebrate her work this Trans Day of Visibility and consider how, together, we can work for a better future for trans and gender-diverse folks in Australia.

Hailing from Adelaide, Tamsin (pictured above with Rebecca Ellis) has served in a number of leadership roles, including most recently as the newest board member of Thorne Harbour Health.

I always feel like I'm never meant to be in the room, but I'm thankfully aware of that, so I always try and push into the room.

Thorne Harbour Health Board Member Tamsin Anspach

Tamsin was the first openly trans Women’s Officer at a South Australian university. She served as a board member for the Adelaide University Union before moving to a position on the National Union of Students’ board.

She has also acted as a board member, chairperson, and member of various committees for ActNow Theatre, a theatre company that engages with a diverse community to share socially conscious stories that inspire conversations around challenging, contemporary issues.

Tamsin’s admirable leadership qualities have translated into ongoing board member positions at the Youth Affairs Council of South Australia (YACSA), an independent organisation dedicated to improving young people’s quality of life; the South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance (SARAA), a community-run charity advocating for LGBTIQA+ South Australians; and most recently, Thorne Harbour Health.

"I realised . . . I can play a role in ensuring that the organisations that I care about are sustainable, are being managed appropriately, and can exist so that they can do the work that needs to happen," Tamsin said.

However, despite her achievements, Tamsin recognises that time and capacity are limited resources.

Trans Rights in South Australia

As many leaders migrate east, Tamsin is one of the few representatives for the trans and gender-diverse communities remaining in South Australia – meaning she often shoulders responsibility alone.

There's a lot of great people that are doing great work, but they are having to make a lot of sacrifices to do what they do for the community. That is unsustainable, not only for them, but for the community.


Because there are fewer people to grapple with pressing issues, it comes as no surprise that South Australian community leaders may be feeling overwhelmed this year.

At present, South Australian anti-discrimination law is patchwork and flawed. It fails to protect marginalised groups like the trans community. Human rights are inconsistently considered and often overlooked when developing or amending legislation.

With that in mind, Thorne Harbour Health and over 150 other organisations called upon the South Australian Government last year to introduce a Human Rights Act. A single Act clearly outlining human rights and naming protected communities would ensure that every law and policy aligns with upholding human rights for everyone.

The Social Development Committee in the Legislative Council is actively investigating whether such an act is necessary. But for community leaders, the answer is crystal clear.

In situations where . . . there are blatant abuses of human rights, there [should be] a proper mechanism to fall back on and ensure that people aren't falling through the cracks. And right now, that is the situation in South Australia. There are cracks, people fall through them, and there is no mechanism for redress.


A legislated Human Rights Act could relieve many of the issues plaguing trans and gender-diverse people and provide a pathway to seeking justice for violations.

Although the possibility of a Human Rights Act brings hope to South Australia's communities, the capacity of some advocates is wearing thin.

Trans Day of Visibility

While working to enhance trans visibility in the legal sphere, trans people also encounter danger in their daily lives just by being visible. Though the community in South Australia is vibrant and robust, abuse from opposition can take its toll.

"We are seeing a more unsafe environment for trans and gender-diverse people to be visible in communities and to speak up, particularly in the digital world where anti-trans activists are more than happy to take screenshots and share people's most intimate details with the world," Tamsin remarked.

Understandably, Trans Day of Visibility brings up complex emotions for Tamsin and many other trans people in a world of tension and uncertainty.

Before Trans Day of Visibility's inception in 2009, the community's only well-known day of recognition was Trans Day of Remembrance, a day of mourning. While Trans Day of Visibility exists to honour trans joy and empower trans and gender-diverse folks to live authentically, it is too often shadowed by the stark realities facing the community.

I've had a very interesting relationship, as I'm sure all trans people have, with Trans Day of Visibility. I've had years where I've wanted to yell from the rooftops. And I've had years where I just want to stay in bed all day.


It is becoming increasingly clear that a single day dedicated to supporting the trans and gender-diverse community is not enough. Sustained intra-community support from other LGBTIQ+ folks could make all the difference in protecting trans people from burnout.

We need to de-burden trans folks themselves with the responsibility of highlighting that trans people exist and trans people are doing things, and, as a broader community, create space for the visibility of that throughout the year.


Yet despite these challenges, the community should not feel disheartened.

Trans Allyship

Tamsin and other up-and-coming young advocates are a ray of hope for the future. South Australia is home to trans and gender-diverse folks from all walks of life, all of whom could be the next community leaders, and all of whom deserve to feel seen.

"In a collective, everyone can demonstrate leadership. Leadership can just be you showing up at every community event and ensuring that if someone needs help, you're there to help them," Tamsin said.

As trans youth take on more responsibility, other members of the LGBTIQ+ community can listen carefully and learn to amplify the voices of emerging leaders.

Tamsin's continued leadership and intra-community support will ensure that next year, Trans Day of Visibility will unite and celebrate trans people of all backgrounds in Adelaide.

Anyone can support the trans community. For more information on allyship, visit Transgender Victoria to download the Trans Ally Confidence Kit.


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