Greens leader Adam Bandt has slammed Prime Minister Scott Morrison for “punching down” on transgender Australians, and called for Medicare coverage of gender-affirming surgery.
Speaking at the National Press Club, Bandt weighed in on Scott Morrison’s support for a private member’s bill to ban trans women from women’s sport.
Bandt said, “Scott Morrison said he was backing those changes because he was concerned about women. Give me a break.
“Morrison has routinely turned his back on women who’ve come forward with some of the most serious allegations.
“He’s refused to lift the minimum wage in a way that would help women. He’s left domestic violence services struggling to make their funding.
“He now pretends to care about women.”
Bandt added that instead, Scott Morrison is “attempting to start up a devastating culture war that has the potential to claim lives.”
“When conservatives are behind in the polls, they punch down,” he said.
“They try and pick groups who are deserving of our support and in need of our attention and a sensitive debate about how best to support those groups.”
The Greens leader said instead, Scott Morrison has tried to “weaponise it and turn it into a culture war… when lives are at stake.”
“Amongst young transgender people, nearly half of them have reported attempts at suicide,” he said.
“We should be having a debate about how to support them. Trans rights are non-negotiable for the Greens. That is crystal clear.
“Having lived through the marriage equality debate, people reported they felt like their very right to exist was being debated in Parliament.
“We cannot afford another one of those [debates].
“People’s right to exist should not be the fodder of political election campaigns. Trans people deserve our support.”
Greens’ Adam Bandt call for Medicare coverage of gender surgery
Speaking about reforms, Adam Bandt called for the federal government to include gender-affirming surgery in Medicare.
“That is one thing that would make a big difference,” he said.
Last November, the Greens called for $15 million annually to cover out-of-pocket costs for trans and gender diverse Australians’ surgery and transitional healthcare.
National LGBTIQ+ group Just.Equal welcomed Bandt’s commitment to the Medicare reform.
The group have called on other political parties to match it, as well as subsidise hormone therapies.
“Achieving Medicare coverage for gender affirmation is a long overdue reform,” spokesperson Sally Goldner said.
“Mr Bandt’s commitment is a much-needed antidote to the anti-trans election campaigning we have seen over the last few days.
“Due to discrimination and resulting unemployment, trans people often find hormone costs a struggle and these also need to be covered.
“Like every Australian, every trans person deserves equitable and affordable health care. Achieving this would enable trans people to move forward in their lives.
“Achieving trans Medicare coverage needs to be a priority for the incoming government, whomever forms it. We want it implemented within 6 months.”
Other transgender reforms are needed, advocates say
Sally Goldner said there are other long overdue trans reforms and initiatives at the federal level.
Others include a national, funded trans mental health strategy and action plan and education campaign about trans lives to end misinformation.
Australia should also adopt a uniform approach for laws and regulations regarding recording of gender, Goldner added.
Australia should also ensure universal access to transition services for children without court intervention and the inclusion of protections for trans people in the Fair Work Act.
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.