In the very early 1980's, a small band of transsexual people founded the "Australian Transsexual Association" (A.T.A.) with the aim of supporting transsexual people by advocating for legal and social changes. A member of this group, Roberta Perkins, who had earlier completed an honours thesis about transsexuals, had approached Reverend Bill Crews of the Wayside Chapel Crisis Centre to ask if he would consider the use of the chapel as a regular meeting place offering support to the transsexual girls of Kings Cross.
After consultation with Reverend Bill Crews and Reverend Ted Noffs together with Roberta Perkins, regular weekly support meetings for transsexuals commenced.
Many of the girls working the streets of Kings Cross, from Darlinghurst Road to William Street were vulnerable to assaults, robberies, rape and harassment. Problems of increased dependence on prescription and illicit drugs were also an issue. Often drugs were a means of managing a multitude of issues as a transgender individual, such as limited employment opportunities, no secure housing, verbal and physical abuse, violent attacks etc. These negative experiences reduce an individual's already low self-esteem.
Other issues of concern were incidences of transgenders being evicted and discriminatory treatment by landlords and some service providers.
In July 1983, Roberta Perkins met with Frank Walker, State Minister for Youth and Community Services, after he had read her recently published book, "The Drag Queen Scene", a book based on a study that she had undertaken about the transgender sub-culture in Kings Cross.
During this time, the media had also become involved in the issues of transsexuals and had produced a documentary movie titled "Man into Woman". This film had also highlighted the plight of transgender people in Sydney, particularly Kings Cross. Public awareness of the issues faced by transsexual people was most certainly on the rise.
But what had disturbed Walker about Roberta's book the most was the semi-nomadic lives that young transgenders experienced, forced from their apartments by landlords and unable to get overnight residence in either a men's or a women's refuge. The problem of homelessness was significant and providing transsexuals with a safe refuge was crucial. Most refuge services at the time would not cater for transsexuals.
Walker's words have never left her: "Roberta, we have got to find them a place where they can lay their heads at night."
She made a submission for funding to open a refuge for transsexuals. Frank Walker approved this plan, two months later a cheque arrived addressed to Roberta and a house was provided as a refuge strictly for transsexuals. In October 1983 the doors opened at 75 Morgan Street, Petersham, and its twelve bed spaces - two double-bunk beds in each of three bedrooms - were filled immediately.
On 14th December 1983 Frank Walker officially opened "Tiresias House".