The filmmakers of the documentary ‘Becoming Colleen’ are honoured to welcome Sandra Pankhurst as an advocate for the film and the celebration of diversity in aged care.

Sandra is the subject of Sarah Krasnostein’s prize winning book ‘The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster’. Most recently awarded with the Victorian Premier’s Literary award for non-fiction, the book follows Sandra’s life from her abusive childhood, marriage and parenthood, gender-reassignment surgery, working in the sex industry, to becoming a wife and a successful businesswoman.

After reading online about Colleen Young’s journey as a transgender woman coming out at 82 years of age, Sandra found resonance with many aspects of her own life and became keen to become an advocate for the project:

“I’m delighted to be an Ambassador and passionate advocate for the documentary ‘Becoming Colleen’ as this story is very close to my heart. I have endured many traumatic episodes during my life and learnt to be resilient and how to become a survivor. The filmmakers have given a voice to vulnerable people in the community who need your understanding and compassion not your judgement. This raw and very real portrayal of Colleen’s life shines a light on subject matter which is often pushed under the carpet so hopefully the impact of this documentary will start many conversations.”

On meeting Sandra, writer and director Ian Thomson describes:

“It was a thrill to hear Sandra’s stories and to share Colleen’s experiences about hiding her true inner-self away for so many years, something the two woman have shared insights about.”

‘Becoming Colleen’ explores the challenges Colleen Young faces transitioning from male to female after having fathered a family and grieved the passing of her dearly loved wife Heather, all in the conservative bounds of a coastal town in regional Australia. As the story unfolds, rather than being able to realise her dream of gender-reassignment surgery, Colleen must face the reality of transitioning into a Christian run nursing home.

Sandra and Ian spoke of the opportunity these stories present for Australian culture to open-up to more than acceptance and tolerance of diversity in aged care and regional areas, but the joy a celebration of difference can bring to these communities and our society as a whole.

Sandra has generously offered to become a spokesperson and advocate for the film. She will be active in raising the remaining sponsorship the film needs to complete post-production and will be speaking at the premiere and other relevant functions.

If you would like to make a fully tax-deductible donation to the project, please go to the Documentary Australia Foundation website here.