We first met Ada Macey via the newsletter about a year ago, soon after she came out as transgender and had begun the process of transitioning. Ada was keen to share her experience at parkrun, in particular, to tell her story about the inclusive and accepting community at Chermside parkrun. We thought we’d catch up with her to see how life is progressing.
After featuring in the newsletter in April 2018, Ada has received overwhelming support from the parkrun community. The first thing she noticed was that people started to recognise her. She says, “Firstly, they would pick me as transgender and then recognise me from the article. I see this as a good thing though as its part of being visible as transgender.” Ada also believes that the article was valuable as a means to expose people to a transgender person that they could relate to via the shared experience of parkrun. She continues, “everyone is mostly well-meaning, but some people may not be familiar with the correct terminology or have the knowledge to express their thoughts openly. But the warmth of parkrun has definitely come through.”
Of course, not everything has been smooth sailing for Ada as she progressed through her journey. Ada had gender confirmation surgery in August 2018, which sidelined her from all physical activity for about 2 or 3 months. She struggled with the recovery and the time it took before she was able to run again. Then Ada had vocal feminisation surgery in January, and couldn’t speak for two months and the recovery meant another month without running. Being unable to run meant that Ada not only lost her physical fitness but also was unable to use exercise to maintain good mental health. She struggled with her parkrun time being so much slower than what it used to be and she lost the joy for running.
Ada continued to volunteer at parkrun and enjoyed the support she received from the parkrun community. She stepped away from RD as a means to reduce pressure, and focused on smaller volunteering roles and running for enjoyment.
She continued to go to parkrun for the friendships and connection.
Just recently Ada got the running bug back again by doing some guiding for a workmate who is vision impaired. Ada says, “the drive to push for a PB has definitely decreased, but I have found a different motivation for running. I still struggle with not being as fast as I used to be but I’m finding VI guiding really fulfilling because I get to run as well as helping someone else out.” Ada is currently aiming to reach 100 volunteering turns and she’d like to hit 150 parkruns this year too. Ada admits, “the reality is that that I’ve had a few bumps and setbacks, but I’m in a better place and I’m comfortable in my own skin in a way that I have never been before. Mental health struggles are still there but things are becoming easier to face.”
Outside of parkrun, Ada is focusing on the education of others and is proud of what she has achieved so far. She states, “visibility is hugely important and its our greatest tool as a minority group to raise awareness and normalise a group of people. I am lucky enough to be able to communicate my story and people have responded well to me. I’m proud of the positive impact I have made and difference it makes in peoples’ lives.”
Ada has been involved in a number of events that aim to increase visibility. She has been a guest on a panel as part of Pride Month in Brisbane and has presented to different government departments on how to help employees transitioning in the workplace. Ada is also a co-host of a radio show on community radio which focuses on the LGBTIQ community, artists, topics and events.
Ada now has people coming to her for advice, and back in the parkrun sphere, Ada had a fellow transgender woman reach out to her after the first article was published. Ada has really proved herself to be a great communicator; people respect her knowledge and her capability. The two transgender women have been able to connect through parkrun. They have sought each other’s help and support which is a fantastic outcome.
Through Ada’s story, we can understand the power of parkrun which is so often difficult to articulate. Ada has helped define the connection, community, kindness and warmth of parkrun.
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