Activists fierce in pursuit of ISGD rights

April 17, 2011

The activists of the Still Fierce collective are angry, proud and determined to make change happen.

The group is organising a protest outside the federal parliament in Canberra on May 11. It will be Australia’s first rally for the rights of intersex, sex and/or gender diverse (ISGD) people.

On its website, Still Fierce says ISGD “includes people who may be intersex, transexed, transsexual, transgender, genderqueer, androgynous, without sex and/or gender identity, and people with sex and gender culturally specific differences”.

Sydney-based Still Fierce activist Conor Montgomery told Green Left Weekly that the rights of ISGD people had been ignored, and the community divided, for too long.

“ISGD is an umbrella term,” he said. “The term is so important [for us] because in the past we have had infighting [between different groups].

“By using the term ISGD we want to get rid of the whole hierarchy. Winning these rights for ISGD people means that all of us win these rights.

“Now, we’re seeing people who identify differently unifying their agendas. Trans men and trans women are finally finding common ground and fighting together.”

The rally will demand the government carry out the recommendations made in the 2009 Australian Human Rights Commission’s Sex Files report.

The recommendations included giving people greater legal power to determine their own sex, to ensure surgery is not the sole criteria for a legal change in sex, and to allow adults the right to not specify their gender on government documents.

Still Fierce also demands: legal protection for ISGD children against enforced medical gender change treatment; new federal anti-discrimination laws to protect the rights of ISGD people; full Medicare funding for ISGD people’s medical and psychological needs; full marriage rights for ISGD people; and the legal right for people to define their own sex and/or gender identity.

Montgomery said he hopes the May 11 protest will become an annual event for ISGD activists and supporters.

“We know that May 11 is going to be our day every year,” he said. “Every year we will load the buses up and go to Canberra.

“We’ve got a bus going down from Brisbane. We’ve got a bus coming up from Melbourne and there is now a Still Fierce branch in Melbourne. So it’s a convergence from all around the country.”

In Sydney, Montgomery said the collective is still quite new, but is diverse and growing.

“Still Fierce has people in their 60s and people in their teens. The older generation knows that it’s going to be led by young people.

“We all know that we are not going to go to this rally and the next day the government’s going to say: ‘We’ve got to do what they want’. The campaign will continue after May 11 in many ways.

About 20 organisations are now supporting Still Fierce’s Canberra rally. Montgomery said: “We’re providing space for whoever supports us to join us on the day and in future activities.”

Still Fierce also says that it views the oppression of ISGD people as “intimately connected with that of other oppressed groups”. It “aims to build meaningful relationships with other political struggles”.

[The May 11 rally will take place at 1pm on the Canberra Parliament Lawns. It is supported by Still Fierce Sydney, Still Fierce Melbourne, Sex And Gender Education Australia, Australian Health and Education Centre, the Australian Greens, the Socialist Alliance, Femme Guild Sydney, Scarlet Alliance, Equal Love Canberra, Young Lawyers Human Rights Committee (NSW), CRAVE Metropolitan Community Church (Sydney), Community Action Against Homophobia, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Student Union Queer Department, The University of Melbourne Student Union Queer Department and the WA Gender Project. For more details visit or email .]

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