A TRANSGENDER woman who hails from Toowoomba is in the running to be named the 2016 Australian of the Year.
Catherine McGregor is a captain in the Royal Australian Air Force and former Lieutenant Colonel in the army. She saw operational service in East Timor three times.
Ms McGregor announced that she was changing her gender in 2012.
Since then, Catherine has told the stories of thousands of hidden transgender Australians through her own life experience, speaking at forums such as the National Press Club in Canberra and at capital city writers' festivals.
Her story as a leader for the transgender community has been documented in the Australian Women's Weekly and national newspapers and she has featured in the ABC's Australian Story.
A well-known cricket commentator, author and political columnist, Catherine's remarkably brave journey has not been without its challenges but it has brought her great personal contentment and inspired others to be true to themselves.
With large stocks of courage, eloquence and confronting candour, Catherine has become a leading figure in the transgender community and as a result Australians have gained a greater understanding and acceptance of the transgender community.
Ms McGregor grew up in Toowoomba and once faced former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott on the rugby field.
She was named the Diversity Champion in the 2016 Queensland Australian of the Year awards.
Award winning journalist Peter Greste, who has family in Toowoomba, is also among the 18 finalists in the running.
Mr Greste has reported on political events from all corners of the globe.
For 25 years, he covered conflicts and catastrophes, accepting the personal danger that comes with a life committed to bringing stories to the world.
Mr Greste received international attention when he was jailed for 400 days in a Cairo prison.
National Australia Day Council CEO Jeremy Lasek said the Queensland finalists were among more than 120 Australians being recognised as State and Territory finalists in the Australian of the Year Awards.
"The Queensland finalists are an amazing group of Australians who are following their passions to make the world a better place - we can be very proud of all of them," Mr Lasek said.
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