Tattoo tash for transgender man

Last updated 05:00 23/11/2012
Sam Orchard
TAKING PART: Transgender male Sam Orchard is doing Movember to highlight the issues affecting all types of New Zealand men.

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A transgender man is taking part in the annual Movember charity challenge despite not being able to grow facial hair - instead he's using a tattooed moustache.

Sam Orchard, 28, who was born a female and grew up as a girl, came out as a lesbian when still a teenager.

Four years ago he started making the slow and steady metamorphosis into a 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, Orchard knew he wanted to take part.

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

But having only recently started on hormone drugs, Orchard is unable to 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.''
So Orchard and friend Phlossy Roxx thought outside the box and launched Team Fauxstache.

He has a moustache tattoo on his finger. Orchard said 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,'' Orchard said.

Orchard said the mental health awareness component of Movember was 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 said that in terms of mental health, the rate of suicide among young homosexual people was incredibly high.

The Youth '07 report which surveyed secondary schools in New Zealand found that gay teens were five times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. The results of the next report are due in mid-2013.

''We are way over-represented in mental health services, and that's not because we are bad at looking after ourselves - it's to do with discrimination,'' he said.

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- Auckland Now

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