Fauxstache does its bit

DANIELLE STREET
Last updated 05:00 28/11/2012
Sam Orchard
DANIELLE STREET / Fairfax NZ
TAKING PART: Transgender male Sam Orchard is doing Movember to highlight the issues affecting all types of New Zealand men.

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Unable to grow a moustache, Sam Orchard instead found a unique way to show his support for Movember.

Mr Orchard was born a female, grew up as a girl and came out as a lesbian as a teenager.

But the 28-year-old says something still didn't quite fit right.

Then about eight years ago he met a transgender-man - a woman who had transitioned into being male - which was a completely foreign concept to him at the time.

"When I met this dude, who was born female it blew my mind," Mr Orchard says.

"I thought it was the most exciting thing that had ever happened. And I couldn't get it out of my head. It was something that I felt very connected to."

So four years ago the Mt Eden resident started making the slow and steady metamorphosis to becoming male.

"It was a gradual shift of asking people to change name for me, and pronouns, and then eventually I started on testosterone last year."

When the annual Movember event rolled around, Mr Orchard knew he wanted to support the cause.

The month-long campaign traditionally sees males nationwide growing moustaches in order to raise awareness for men's health, specifically prostate cancer and depression.

However, having only recently started on hormone drugs meant Mr Orchard could not yet grow a mo.

"As a trans-guy I've always wanted facial hair, but haven't been able to grow it. I've got a few wispy bits but nothing mo-worthy."

Thinking outside the square, Mr Orchard and his friend Phlossy Roxx launched Team Fauxstache and had tiny moustaches tattooed on their fingers.

The pair's ink was sponsored by Two Hands Tattoo on Ponsonby Rd. Mr Orchard says for him participating in Movember is about raising awareness of the different types of men in New Zealand.

"I liked the idea of having a team that celebrated boys and men, and masculine people, who may or may not have been born male," Mr Orchard says.

Mr Orchard say the mental health awareness component of Movember is what truly struck a chord with him.

"I work in mental health and I'm also someone who has suffered from depression. I wanted to put a different sort of face to that to say trans-guys are guys too, and a lot of us suffer from depression due to social exclusion."

He says that in terms of mental health the rates of same-sex attracted young people who have committed suicide are incredibly high.

The Youth 07 report which surveyed secondary schools in New Zealand found that gay teens are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.

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Visit movember.com to find out more about Movember and to donate to the cause.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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