Pride in visibility

April 5, 2023
Thousands marched for trans day of visibility across the country
Thousands marched for Trans Day of Visibility across the country, standing against recent transphobic attacks. Photos: Zebedee Parkes

In light of a disturbing rise in anti-trans violence, we express our solidarity with transgender people and support their fundamental right to live freely, equally and with dignity.

An anti-trans protest in Melbourne on March 18 attracted neo-Nazis who gave the Hitler salute on the steps of the Victorian Parliament, and carried a banner calling on people to “Destroy paedo freaks”.

Hundreds of far-right thugs organised a brutal attack in Sydney on March 21, with glass bottles, rocks and fists, against a dozen LGBTIQ activists who had come to peacefully speak against the bigotry of NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham.

Over the previous few weeks, the same people had gathered in Hyde Park behind a banner that read “LGBTQ = pedophilia” and marched through Newtown and Erskineville in protest against World Pride, spitting on patrons of local gay bars.

We condemn this extreme violence against the transgender community and its supporters.

We also reject the lies from anti-trans politicians such as Mark Latham, Moira Deeming and Katherine Deves, who fuel this hate.

We, the undersigned, believe that:

  • The fight for sexual and gender minorities to be free from oppression is a just struggle. The right to peaceful public protest is a civil right that must be protected.
  • Trans people must be protected from all discrimination in the workplace, housing, healthcare and education.
  • No employer, including religious schools or hospitals, should have the right to fire, or refuse to hire, a worker because they are transgender.
  • Trans people are entitled to access bathrooms, gyms, sporting clubs and other spaces according to their gender identity.
  • Young people have the right to education about gender, sexuality and sexual health that is safe, inclusive and affirming. Educators have the right to accredited formal training to deliver a pro-diversity curriculum. The anti-bullying, pro-LGBTIQ program Safe Schools should be reinstated.
  • Trans people have the right to access health care and medical interventions that are free, public and of high quality.
  • Trans people have the right to self-identify, with or without medical interventions. Regardless of medical status, transgender people need anti-discrimination protections.

We acknowledge the dangerous growth of far-right forces internationally, most notably in the United States. Thirty-six US states have introduced bills that attack trans people’s rights, especially of trans youth — preventing trans girls from playing school sports, banning trans people from using the correct bathrooms and criminalising gender-affirming care for trans youth.

We condemn Latham and his attempts to bring in these kinds of laws to Australia. His so-called “Parental rights” bill would ban all transgender issues from the curriculum and make it a sackable offence for teachers to oppose transphobic bullying or even to be transgender themselves.

This movement not only seeks to curtail transgender rights, but hard-won rights over reproductive and sexual freedom for all women and sexual minorities.

In the US, abortion rights have been federally overturned, and “Don’t Say Gay” laws passed in Florida and Alabama prohibit the mention of homosexuality in schools.

If allowed to fester and grow, anti-trans forces in Australia will also broaden their targets. Latham’s appalling homophobic abuse on Twitter against NSW MP Alex Greenwich on March 30, is a case in point.

The vast majority of people in Australia support transgender rights, gay rights and abortion rights.

The week of Trans Day of Visibility saw a wave of mass, grassroots protest, with support from trade unions, community groups and progressive political parties. These are the biggest trans rights protests in this country’s history. We may be under attack, but we do not stand alone.

We call on progressive organisations to speak out, stand together and protect each other against the far-right threat and build our movement to challenge transphobic laws that embolden bigots.

Ordinary people came together and won marriage equality, decriminalised abortion in every state, and beat back bigoted religious freedoms bills. We are stronger together.

To our transgender siblings and our trans youth, we say: We support you, we stand with you, and we will never let the far-right divide us.

[To sign on to this open letter visit Pride in Protest Facebook page.]

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