Why we need to protest transphobic hate speech

March 8, 2023
Protester holding trans flag
Counterprotests have been organised against transphobic agitator Kellie-Jay Keen’s tour of Australia. Photo: Zebedee Parkes

Transphobic agitator Kellie-Jay Keen (also known as Posie Parker) is about to tour Australia and New Zealand. The National Union of Students’ Queer/LGBTQIA+ Department is organising counterprotests.

Keen founded the group “Standing for Women” and says “2023 is the year of the TERF [trans-exclusionary radical feminist]”. She will be using her tour to promote a new TERF party.

Keen supports far-right Norwegian activist Hans Lysglimt Johansen, leader of the Alliance — Alternative for Norway. A Donald Trump supporter, Johansen is renowned for his neo-Nazi, racist and antisemitic rhetoric.

Around the world, transgender rights are under attack. Britain recently used section 32 of the Scotland Act 1998 to stop the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) bill, which would have made it easier for people to change their legal gender, from passing.

More than 390 bills targeting trans people have been filed in the United States over the past four years. They include the infamous “Don’t say gay bill” in Florida, which aims to make it illegal to express gender variance. It is being challenged.

There are also “sport bills”, which stop transgender children from participating in sports with their same-gender peers and bills that ban gender-affirming health care.

Poland’s right-wing government won on a platform of painting LGBTIQ people to be a foreign threat. Now, as acceptance of gay people grows in the country, politicians have turned their hateful rhetoric towards trans people.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused transgender activists last year of engaging in “cancel culture” against JK Rowling and, in December, made laws restricting the promotion of what he described as “LGBT propaganda”.

Anti-trans agitators have organised in opposition to Queensland’s gender recognition laws, which would bring the state into line with others.

Gender recognition by self-identification, without medical gatekeeping, has already been made law across most of Australia, including in the Northern Territory (where I had my gender marker amended on my birth certificate).

The faux concerns of anti-trans agitators have, categorically, not happened.

There is a small far-right and trans-exclusionary movement in Australia, whose protests generally attract a handful of people. Keen wants to use her tour to be a galvanising force for these hate groups.

As hate crimes against transgender people rise, solidarity is needed. Billy Bragg said on Twitter: “Appalled to find UK anti-trans activist Kellie-Jay Keen is coming to SA to stir up division. Not only anti-trans, she also accepts support from US anti-abortionists. Be a trans ally — protest her presence!”

[Join the counterprotests in Warrang/Sydney, Meanjin/Brisbane, Boorloo/Perth, Tarndanya/Adelaide, Naarm/Melbourne and Ngunnawal/Canberra.]

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