Transgender Victoria has called out the trivialisation of trans rights in politicians’ federal election campaigns as “unnecessary and cruel”.
The organisation’s statement on Facebook last week highlighted the legal barriers already in place restricting transgender people’s access to sport, and warned that new bills being discussed would only serve to discriminate against the community further.
“The severe impact this kind of political and media rhetoric has as a significant driver on the poor mental health and wellbeing outcomes for trans and gender-diverse people is unacceptable,” the post said.
The statement comes as anger grows about Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s support for NSW Liberal candidate Katherine Deves, following her transphobic comments on the issue of transgender women competing in women’s sports.
Greens leader Adam Brandt attacked the comments, saying it was “an attempt to start up a devastating culture war that has the potential to claim lives”.
Swinburne University Gender Agenda deputy secretary Nyx Evergarden said she was concerned the issues being highlighted by Australia’s politicians were detracting from what the trans and gender-diverse community needed most.
“Trans people in toilets are the least of our issues; trans swimmers are the least of our issues,” she said.
Evergarden warns that Australia’s political climate is heading in a “dangerous” direction, following America’s conservative political moves, and the platform local conservative voices found during Melbourne’s lockdowns.
Soon it’s going to get very hard for gender non-conforming people and queer people … it will affect Australia and people will get hurt.
Evergarden said what the transgender community really needed was a way to educate allies and “disrupt the hate”.
A 2021 survey of the Australian transgender community, published in LGBT Health, found that almost a third of participants identified better training for healthcare professionals as a top priority for government funding.
Alcohol and Drug Foundation policy and advocacy knowledge manager Laura Bajurny said organisations that claimed to be allies but failed to properly train their staff might actually place trans youth at greater risk.
“People want to be inclusive but they don’t know how, so maybe you’ll put a flag on your door and then a young transgender person comes in and has a really negative experience with your receptionist … and then they’re not going to want to come back to anybody’s service,” she said.
Transgender Victoria also released a digital booklet in the lead up to next month’s federal election, advocating for the most pressing issues for the trans and gender diverse community.
These include appointing an LGBTIQ+ Human Rights Commissioner with appropriate resources and funding; better provision of physical and mental health services; and including questions to count TGD people in the census.