Woman urges whānau to make it safer for Takatāpui

By Heeni Brown
  • Auckland

30-year-old Kara Beckford identifies as a proud Takatāpui, who draws inspiration from the likes of world renowned artists Mexican indigenous Frida Kahlo and intersex-born Julian Huxtable.

The Ngāti Whakaue and Jamaican descendant says, "Julian Huxtable, she is an artist who was born intersex and then now identifies as transgender."

"Frida Kahlo, she was probably one of the first artists that I really fell in love with, then I found out that she was indigenous to Mexico and also Takatāpui."

Beckford works in Mental Health and Addiction Services and is also doing her Masters Research in Psychology.

She says Takatāpui is non-conforming to Pākeha conservative and Christian concepts of sexuality and gender expression.

"For me Takatāpui says that I am Māori first and foremost, that my sexuality is fluid so that means that I will go on dates and fall in love with men, with women, with non-binary people if that happens. And it's really in resistance to kind of Pākeha concepts around sexuality and gender which really have a strong Christian moral code."

Last week, was National Coming out Day, where Beckford urged people to make the world a little safer for those who identify as Takatāpui.

"For whānau, accepting and opening their arms to Takatāpui or even learning more about us and our stories or about our own history entirely is really really important. And it's important for all of us, not just for Takatāpui but for whānau too so we can get to know each other better."

This week, she welcomed InsideOUT's new resource aimed at answering high school students' questions about what their legal rights are at school regarding issues around sexuality and gender diversity.

"As soon as I let people know like and was honest with the people in my life, you know they were quite accepting and it helped them open their minds up a little bit to the possibility that you can be Takatāpui and still have a family or not and there are all these things that are not the stereotype people who have stereotypes of what it meant."

It's a resource which will provide advocates for young gay people's legal rights titled 'Legal Rights at School: For Young People of Minority Sexualities and Genders'.

"From the time I was 16 till I told my Dad when I was 24, it was a long process with a lot of ups and downs, but for me it was a positive one and that there was unconditional love around me and there were questions, oh does this mean we're not going to get any mokos. You know there were those questions. But as soon as I let people know and like I was honest with the people in my life they were quite accepting."
Statistics New Zealand currently does not readily record the sexual and gender orientation of people in New Zealand.

But academic research by Lara Greaves suggests 2.6% of New Zealanders identified as gay or lesbian, 1.8% bisexual, 0.6% bicurious, 0.5% per cent pansexual and 0.3 per cent asexual.

"If you need the courage to come out then it's good to talk to one person that you know will accept you, that you know is quite open minded. There are also support services out there that you can link in with that could give you advice, probably better than I could give about how to do that."

Moving forward, Beckford hopes being Takatāpui and being Queer wouldn't be a thing you had to come out for and wants it to just be normal and accepting part of all communities