Dozens of women’s rights and gender equality organisations have signed an open letter denouncing politicians’ divisive rhetoric against transgender Australians in the federal election campaign.
Gender equity group Fair Agenda has put out a joint statement, endorsed by more than 50 women’s rights, gender equity and safety groups, calling for an end to the corrosive debate and instead focus on “real threats” to the equality and safety of Australian women.
“We all deserve dignity, respect and the freedom to be ourselves,” it reads.
“Together, we can create a future where we are all free to thrive, and support each other — regardless of our genders, the colour of our skin, or where we come from.
“But right now, in an attempt to gain prominence and attention, some political candidates are trying to foster division by attacking the rights of trans women to participate in sports as their authentic selves.”
The statement goes on to say across Australia, both community and professional sports have “already welcomed trans women and girls into their teams with appropriate guidelines to ensure a fair go for everyone.”
“Stoking hostility, uncertainty and misunderstanding harms trans women and children, preventing their full contribution and participation in our communities,” it reads.
“It moves us away from a community that values inclusion, dignity and respect; a community where everyone can feel and be safe.”
Address the ‘real threats’ to women’s equality and sport
The signatories are all organisations advocating for women’s rights, gender equity and women’s safety. This federal election, they want all politicians and candidates to address the “real threats” to equality for women.
“We denounce this attempt at division. We are united in our support of inclusion, dignity and respect for all women,” they state.
“There are real threats to women’s equality and participation in sport.
“[These include] public allegations of sexual assault, harassment or gendered abuse by male coaches in sports like gymnastics and swimming.
This week 50+ leading women’s rights, gender equity & safety groups came together to jointly reject & denounce attempts to divide us & called for the action actually needed to ensure *all* women are safe from abuse. https://t.co/tD7174jBxo #WomenVote #AusPol #AusVotes pic.twitter.com/vsdqgVLuJC
— Fair Agenda (@FairAgenda) May 8, 2022
.@FairAgenda is proud to unite with leading women’s safety & gender equity groups from around the country to jointly call on candidates to reject attempts to divide us. We call for safety and equality for all women.
Read the statement & join the call at https://t.co/tD71742yvo
— Fair Agenda (@FairAgenda) May 6, 2022
“Our political representatives should be prioritising the action needed to ensure all women are safe from abuse — in work, life and play — instead of targeting transgender women.
“Women’s equality means economic security; agency over our lives and bodies and freedom from sexual, domestic and family violence.
“We are united in our commitment to safety and equality for all women.
“[This includes] challenging the gender inequality and gender stereotyping that are drivers of violence against women.”
They all want “candidates and parties to reject any attempts to divide us and commit to what’s actually needed for a fair, safe and equal future for all women.”
PM Scott Morrison backs Katherine Deves
Sydney Liberal candidate Katherine Deves caused outrage for weeks over her offensive, now-deleted tweets about transgender people.
As co-founder of Save Women’s Sport, Deves has lobbied for sports to exclude transgender women. She also described trans people as “surgically mutilated and sterilised” and likened trans advocacy to Nazi Germany on Twitter.
This week, Katherine Deves walked back an earlier apology she made for the comments. And on Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison again backed her on the election campaign trail.
Anti-trans rhetoric is harming the transgender community
Peak group LGBTIQ+ Health Australia also warned the politicians’ comments and media coverage is harming trans and gender diverse Australians.
Last month national helpline QLife reported a 19 per cent increase in calls for support since the election started.
But on days of widespread media coverage of Deves’ views, QLife saw calls spike by 53 per cent.
LGBTIQ+ Health Australia CEO Nicky Bath condmned politicians for using trans and gender diverse people as “political footballs”.
“Conversations need to be led by experts in appropriate forums with care and understanding,” Bath said.
“The election campaign is not an appropriate forum.”
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.