MANY trans and gender diverse people speak about knowing from a young age that there was something different about their identity.
For non-binary trans woman Zara Jones, that was not the case.
"It was a sense of I don't know," the Central Victorian resident said. "It was, I don't know what's wrong with me.
"I don't know why I can't connect. I don't know why I'm not as happy as everyone around me. I don't know why things just won't work for me."
Ms Jones said it took her a long time to work through those feelings and come to the realisation that nothing was wrong with her - other than the belief that she was a man.
"When I realised I wasn't a man and there was a name for people like me, then my world changed," she said.
Ms Jones started speaking to people about this realisation in 2017.
"I said to my wife by accident that I always felt more like a woman than a man and we looked at each other awkwardly and then had a conversation about exploring that," she said.
When you feel so alone for so long and you finally meet your community, you finally feel like you belong and that you're not this weird, lonely person.Zara Jones
"That was the start of my journey which was very slow because we were working within a relationship that neither of us wanted to end. So it took me probably two years to really find myself."
The 44-year-old explored the idea of having a non-binary identity but then moved into the transgender space.
"I was all, I am a woman, hear me roar," Ms Jones said. "And then I realised I'm not like all of the other women.
"I started to feel uncomfortable about that so for me, I now sit very comfortably with the title of non-binary trans woman.
"I want people to know that I have had this experience that does set my life apart from a lot of other people.
"They can understand a little bit about my differences and not have expectations of me that they might have of cis women because it's too much for me to live up to."
Ms Jones is now flourishing and "living her best life". She created Trans and Gender Diverse Bendigo and Beyond - a monthly support group for trans and gender diverse people, as well as allies.
From that group, Ms Jones also established a regular clothing swap meet - a safe space for people who are transitioning to find and donate clothes.
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"Once you know, you just want to champion that," Ms Jones said. "When you feel so alone for so long and you finally meet your community, you finally feel like you belong and that you're not this weird, lonely person.
"You just explode into this ball of energy which you just want to give to others.
"That's why I started the groups and the clothing swap - to meet other people, to bring people together, to give others the opportunity to meet other people so they also didn't feel alone.
"I felt invisible my entire life so I just want to be super visible now."
Ms Jones said events like national Trans Awareness Week helped increase the visibility of the community.
"One of the things that really warms my heart is when I see other organisations and businesses posting something about it or sharing something because they don't need to," she said. "They're choosing to do that.
"By doing that, they're really amplifying our voices and showing the community that this isn't just about trans and gender diverse people. They're saying we accept you and that is just brilliant. I love seeing that."
But while Trans Awareness Week has shown that progress has been made, there still needs to be more work done.
"We say to the world that we just want to fit in and be treated like everyone else but we're not there yet," Ms Jones said.
"So what we need from people is a little bit of consideration that it is difficult when we go out and that we have anxieties.
"To everyone else who is just enjoying a night out or working in the workplace or doing all of the things that everyone does from day-to-day, we're carrying with us a level of anxiety, fear, and apprehension.
We say to the world that we just want to fit in and be treated like everyone else but we're not there yet.Zara Jones
"We're noticing microaggressions - from people giving us weird looks or things like is there going to be a bathroom for me at this venue? Am I going to be safe?"
Ms Jones said the health sector could also pose many challenges for trans people.
"For somebody who has had surgery and is going to hospital for certain check ups, there are things that the medical system is not prepared for or that the doctors have never experienced before," she said.
"They respond in a way that makes everybody awkward. So there needs to be more training, more awareness, more visibility."
But Ms Jones wanted to highlight that society was becoming more inclusive for people who were trans or gender diverse.
"There is a lot of perceived fear that we're going to be met with all kinds of violence, which is happening around the world but not necessarily in our environment," she said.
"I have certainly heard of some people having some really terrible experiences but probably no more than any other woman or vulnerable person.
"There is enough diversity in Bendigo. I think the marriage equality plebiscite showed that as well - that there was a majority vote for inclusion of diversity.
"I think that really amplified my courage to be out in Bendigo."