New Zealand is a country with a long history of LGBT people, and the new transgender man who died on Saturday in Auckland has been one of them.
The man, who had been living as a woman, was part of a team of more than a dozen volunteers working to create a home for trans people.
The young man was born male but was identified as female by his family, and underwent surgery in December 2016.
His name is Benji Brown.
Benji was the first transgender person to have his gender affirmed by the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA), and the first to die in New Zealand, as well as the first New Zealand resident to be born a man.
He was one of the volunteers who created the home, the Auckland Medical Clinic, and it was designed to be a place where transgender people could live and work.
“It was a place of safety for trans and gender diverse people, where we could talk, meet and learn,” his sister, Lisa Brown, told ABC Radio New Zealand.
“We’ve had to be careful about not going out in public.
We are very careful about what we wear and what we do and it’s not an easy place to be.”
The centre, located on the island of the same name, was set up by volunteers and volunteers from the community, and its purpose was to create and support a safe and inclusive space for people who felt excluded.
“He [Benji] had never had a transgender person in his life, he had never felt like he was alone,” Lisa said.
“There was a lot of support from the local community, people were helping him.
It’s a very big thing, and one of his biggest regrets is that he never felt accepted.”
The community is in mourning for Benji, who is survived by his partner, his mother and two children.
“His life was a blessing and it made him who he is,” Lisa Brown said.
“We want to make sure that his legacy stays that way.”
Benji had a passion for cycling and fitness, and worked as a trainer and fitness coach, helping to promote the sport around the country.
“I think his career as a health worker was a huge part of what he was able to do,” Lisa told ABC News.
Benjis life was not easy, Lisa said, and she said he was very proud of his achievements.
“The things that he achieved were remarkable,” she said.
The death of Benji was announced on Saturday, and his family released a statement saying he was a “very kind, compassionate and kind person”.
“He loved everyone in the community.
He had a wonderful sense of humour, was full of love and was a wonderful person to be around,” the statement said.
Ben Brown’s death has raised concerns about the future of the Auckland Centre for Gender Diversity and Transition, which opened its doors to trans people in December last year.
It’s not known how the centre will deal with Benji’s death, and there are currently no plans to reopen the centre.
The Auckland Medical Centre said it was “very sad to hear of the death of this brave, inspirational and dedicated individual”.
“We are devastated by this news and extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends,” a spokesperson said.