Auckland Transgender Actress Awa Puna Speaks Out About Violent Anti-Trans Protest

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – When actress Awa Puna led a large transgender rights march in Auckland last year, emotions ran high as the Shortland Street star stood before thousands of supporters. Her partner, Mark Chayanat Whittet, stood by her side as they protested the arrival of British anti-trans activist Posie Parker in New Zealand. The peaceful protest turned violent as around 1000 Destiny Church members clashed with the demonstrators, leaving Awa feeling vulnerable and targeted.

The experience left Awa feeling depressed and isolated for weeks afterward, grappling with the harsh reality of transphobia and the challenges faced by the transgender community. However, the support of friends, family, and her partner helped her navigate through the dark times, providing her with strength and hope.

Awa also reflected on her journey to finding love and self-acceptance, crediting her partner with helping her realize that she was deserving of love and happiness. Living with her partner in Auckland, Awa found laughter and creativity in her everyday life, emphasizing the importance of surrounding herself with supportive and loving individuals.

Despite the adversity she faced, Awa has continued to pursue her passion for acting and filmmaking, working on projects that shed light on the experiences of the transgender community. Her latest project, The Boy, The Queen And Everything In Between, holds personal significance for Awa, as she portrays a character navigating the challenges of being transgender in a poignant and authentic way.

Awa’s dedication to amplifying the voices of the trans community is evident in her work, as she draws inspiration from her own experiences and dreams. Her film projects serve as a platform to explore themes of identity, acceptance, and love, resonating with audiences on a deeply personal level.

Through her work and advocacy, Awa hopes to foster greater understanding and empathy for the transgender community, creating a space where individuals are seen and valued for who they truly are. Her resilience and commitment to storytelling continue to inspire and uplift, offering a powerful testament to the strength and beauty of the human spirit.