April 30, 2016

Inside Out

Over the last two years I have been working with an awesome team from Rainbow YOUTH, Curative, CORE Education and the University of Auckland to make an awesome new teaching resource on the diversity of sex, gender and sexuality. It has been a massive journey and one that I am so incredibly grateful to have been part of. Check out the trailer, press notes and website details below!

Press notes: 
"Supported by funding from the Ministry of Social Development, Inside Out encourages users to explore and challenge unhelpful social norms and is designed to foster critical thinking so that all Kiwis, especially young ones, can belong. The Inside Out website www.insideout.ry.org contains free teaching resources, class guidelines and video content designed to ignite conversations.
The resource has been produced in a partnership between RainbowYOUTH, Curative, and CORE Education, and was further supported by the University of Auckland. More than 100 Kiwis were involved in the creation of Inside Out, the culmination of two years’ development, from secondary school students to the Human Rights Commission, Mental Health Foundation, and Ministry of Social Development through to organisations like the PPTA. 
RainbowYOUTH Education Director, Aych McArdle, says the organisation was fielding dozens of calls each week from teachers crying out for resources to support student’s questions around sex, gender and sexual diversity. 
“Teachers in this country are legally able to answer questions related to sexuality that their students ask and clearly there are a lot of questions based on the enormous demand from our schools for helpful, relevant information. 
“Carefully created with the new Sexuality Education guidelines in mind, Inside Out is ultimately about fostering positive ways of relating to others; we believe that challenging norms and critical thinking is the foundation for open minds and hearts." 
University of Auckland lecturer, published researcher and a director on the Inside Out resources, Dr John Fenaughty cites the Adolescent Health Research Group (conducted over 12 years of study with more than 25,000 secondary school students) findings to support the need to educate our young people to reduce bullying. 
“Bullying rates amongst sexually or gender diverse young people are reported up to 288% higher amongst those attracted to same or both sexes – this is not only heart-breaking but also unacceptable. 
“These young people are not the problem. This is about schooling environments that need additional support to produce a safe and supportive learning environment for all students.” 
By taking a norm-challenging approach, Inside Out fosters a compassionate approach that does not victimise people for their prejudices, but rather encourages students to understand what norms are, where they come from, how they are reinforced and enforced, how they can structure our world, and in turn, our behaviour.
Episode 1: Gender, Sex and Sexuality

Check out more episodes, teaching guides, lesson plans and pedagogy documents on the Inside Out website.

We are so proud of this project, we hope you enjoy it too!

August 25, 2015


Canberra airport last week :) 

This will be the first time in six years (!!!) that I won't be at New Zealand Fashion Week this year and it feels super weird. Thanks to my fashion family for your emails and calls over the last month or so, I wish I was there making magic with you this week!

I've made the call to watch NZFW from the sidelines this year rather than be amidst the action at ground zero. I know it will be a super delicious celebration of our industry and I can't wait to debrief when everyone has recovered!

April 29, 2015

Interview: On The Dial: Talking About Gender

A few weeks ago I sat down with the team at The Wireless to chat about trans visibility, community development and RainbowYOUTH for Episode 21 of On The Dial. Have a listen!
It may seem as though there’s more trans* visibility than ever. 
But Aych says it’s not, really. 
“I think for people who are actually doing the work in the community, we say, ‘Well, you’re just listening now!’ I think it’s important to note that the increased visibility of queer and gender diverse people in our media and legalisation still comes from a place of privilege.” 
“Legislation that’s going through Parliament is about marriage. The mainstream narrative about our community is pre-packaged and palatable. It’s the ‘nice’ version. We’re not talking about youth homelessness or access to health care for our trans brothers and sisters.”

Aych identifies with non-binary gender identity, preferring a gender-neutral name, Aych explains, “My birth name is a Hebrew name that starts with the letter ‘H’ and my family for most of my life just referred to me as H, and my Granddad wrote it down spelt ‘Aych’ one year in a Christmas card and it just stuck.” 
While working on their Master’s thesis investigating gender and storytelling, Aych found a new use for their unique moniker, “I wanted to reduce the bias that someone might be bringing [to my work] as they read it. As I sat with my own gender identity and I felt that the binary didn’t really work for me, I felt much more comfortable [publishing] in a gender neutral space.” 

If you’re reading this and are confused by Aych’s pronouns, fear not, the philosophy behnd gender-neutral pronouns is something they are ready to explain, “If we look back two or three hundred years ago a massive debate erupted between grammaticians, one group said, ‘We need to institute a gender-neutral pronoun, we need to use ‘they and their and them’ and the other half said, ‘But Patriarchy! We need to use words like He and him and his, ‘Mankind’ rather than ‘Humankind.’”
“With the wave of new feminism in the nineteen eighties came a re-examination of the conventional wisdom,” Aych says. “I think we’re coming to a really interesting new point in language now where we’ve forgotten the generic ‘he’ and are starting to make some traction in how we refer to [gender-alternative] peoples in our society.” 
As the Education Director of Rainbow Youth, Aych McArdle is a force in the world of local social justice advocacy. Aych delights in frank conversation about the state of LGBTQ community, excited to offer their nuanced take on the issues facing queer youth in New Zealand today.

March 10, 2015

The RY Community Wardrobe

RY's Community Wardrobe from Rainbow Youth on Vimeo.

This is a new project that I have been working on with some awesome volunteers at RainbowYOUTH! Very proud to say that our community wardrobe is now open! This feels like a dream, a merging of my passions.  A huge thank you to all of the volunteers that helped make this dream come true!

Check out the video above and press release below for more info x

"In a new initiative aimed at supporting gender diverse and queer young people,  RainbowYOUTH has launched the Community Wardrobe at the back of their Karangahape Road drop-in centre. The wardrobe works by collecting clothing donations from the community, that are then sorted into the wardrobe and available for young queer and trans* people to try on in a safe and affirming place and take home for free.

Funding from youth sector support organisation Ara Taiohi help kick off the wardrobe which involved materials to renovate a storage shed at the back of the RainbowYOUTH drop-in centre to include shelves, lighting, a coat of paint & clothing racks. Over the past 3 months, volunteers have been hard at work to get the wardrobe ready in time for an opening to coincide with the Auckland Pride Festival with Westlake Girls’ College running a clothing drive at the end of 2014 to generate a huge amount of clothes to fill the wardrobe.

With the support of the K R’d Business Association, the wardrobe was launched and officially opened on the 14th of February and is now open for public use.

RY will be taking donations later on in the year (they have more than enough to launch) of quality clothing, shoes, accessories and chest garments (binders/bras)."

September 10, 2014

Aych is AOK!

I'm really excited that two new pieces of art that I have been working on will be exhibited tomorrow evening as part of the AOK Fashion Thursday event on K Road in Auckland. The AOK festival (or "All On K'Rd) is a celebration of the neighborhood's creatives and is packed full of exciting events. I'm hoping that I'll also be able to get to some of the other events alongside my own! 

A few words on the words I have thinking about recently:
Multidisciplinary artist, Aych McArdle will present a series of new works exploring themes of excess and self-worship. Playing with light and sound, this exhibition will run through the stairwell of St Kevin’s Arcade, drawing the viewer from Karangahape Road down to Myers Park and back up into the chaos of urban life. Centred on the twin nature fashion and excess, this installation asks “What is it that we seek through our obsession with the self?”

Image: Thanks Ponsonby News for the cute write up! 

If you want to check out my work, it will be on display from 6pm - 8pm on the steps of St Kevins Arcade (running between Karangahape Road and Myers Park) with an artist talk at 7pm. 

For full details of other events on the night, check out the full event schedule.