Sandra Pankhurst is truly label-defying.
A transgender woman, Sandra Pankhurst has lived many lives, rising above adversity. Her remarkable life is the subject of the internationally acclaimed, multi-award- winning book ‘The Trauma Cleaner’.
Sandra (then “Peter”) was adopted into an abusive family, relegated to a backyard bungalow, malnourished, excluded from family life and escaped home in his teens.
Marrying young, he soon realised it was not possible to continue his life as a husband and father – so he left that life to become Sandra -- drag queen, sex worker and a gender reassignment patient in the early 80s. With an enviable work ethic, she went on to become Australia’s first female funeral director, a trophy wife and a local government candidate.
Sandra is now CEO of one of Australia’s most successful trauma cleaning businesses, transforming the filth and squalor of murder, suicide, drug dens, crime, and mental illness. The idea for her trauma cleaning business emerged when she was a funeral director, as there were no death/crime scene specialist cleaners.
Sandra saw a gap in the market and created a business that combined her ‘neat freak’ CSI stain-removing genius with her next level ability to relate and connect to people in difficult situations, specifically in trauma. With a unique ability to treat her clients with unpatronising dignity and respect, she transforms their properties back to their former glory.
An active advocate for aged care rights, disability, mental health and ethics, Sandra has recently been an Ambassador for ‘Becoming Colleen’, a documentary about a woman who transitioned at 82. Sandra is extremely passionate about making a positive impact on the welfare of people of all lifestyles in the aged care and mental health sector.
As a public speaker, Sandra does keynotes, panel discussions, interviews and book-clubs, and has been featured on ABC Radio, Nova100, SBS, Studio 10, and in The Guardian, Herald Sun, Life Matters and The Australian
Her incredible story reminds us there can be an after, survival and a next chapter.