A protest to mark Transgender Remembrance Day and oppose a transphobic bill by One Nation MLC Mark Latham was organised by Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR) on November 28. Despite the searing heat, about 250 people turned out.
Latham’s Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020 aims to ban all references to trans and gender diverse identity in schools. It also bans counseling and support for queer students. According to the NSW Teacher’s Federation, if passed it would “put teachers at risk of losing their job when they support a trans or gender-diverse student in affirming their identity”.
NSW Parliament is currently conducting an inquiry into the bill. More than 83,000 people have signed an online petition opposing it.
Speakers at the rally included CARR spokesperson April Holcombe and NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong, both of whom called on Latham to drop the bill. The protesters marched from Oxford Street through the city to Hyde Park North, passing by a handful of Donald Trump supporters who were being defended by NSW Police.
Transgender Day of Remembrance began in 1999 in the United States after transgender woman Rita Hester was brutally stabbed multiple times in the chest in her apartment by an unknown assailant.
This year, 350 trans and gender-diverse people were murdered worldwide according to Trans Murder Monitoring. It noted that there has been an increase in murders since last year.
A statement released by Transgender Europe for this year's Trans Day of Remembrance said that the pandemic had made inequalities, systemic oppression and violence by state worse. It said that the "lack of access to healthcare, employment, housing, education, and justice, as well as stigmatisation and persecution, are just some of the results of the inaction of societies that do little or nothing to protect trans and gender-diverse people”.
On November 21, a Trans Day of Resistance protest was organised in Newtown by Pride in Protest and Trans Action Warrang- Sydney. The protest demanded the federal government drop its religious freedoms bill, reinsitutionalise the safe schools program and provide universal and trans-inclusive health care.
The Gender Centre also organised a digital transgender Remembrance Day event, co-supported with the City of Sydney, ICLC, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Sex Workers Outreach Project and Glamazon, Amazon’s LGBTQI face.
It is the first time Amazon has supported the event in Sydney. Vice reported last February that Amazon’s security firm, Ring, partners with 200 United States police departments. An audit of 25 of the largest US police departments, conducted by the US-based National Centre for Transgender Equality found that they were failing to protect transgender people.
[Rachel Evans is a long-term queer rights activist and a member of Socialist Alliance.]