Over the past six months, a running narrative about transgender people’s rights has been strewn across Hobart media. Late November 2018, a new bill was proposed to make the gender marking on one’s birth certificate optional. This bill not only helps validate the identity of transgender people but brings an amount of ease to procedures such as gaining employment or travelling overseas.
Since its proposal, many parties have risen in Hobart to oppose the bill. These parties claim to be protecting the rights of children and what they consider women. Instead of focusing on the bill itself and everything involved, groups are targeting the transgender community.
Now that the bill has been passed, the topic has quietened and these groups aren’t so present on social media and in public, but the discourse surrounding the bill was incredibly problematic. We need to stand alongside our transgender community in solidarity. A change to birth certificates, that does not affect the general public is no cause for concern.
Chloe Black is a UTAS student and Hobartian transgender woman who saw the debate unfold. She engaged with some groups, trying to show that their ideals on womanhood are problematic. Just like everyone else who identifies as a woman, transwomen’s identity should be considered.
“There are a few TERF [trans-exclusionary radical feminist] groups in Hobart. I started trolling them a little bit, I was trying to show the loophole in their thinking, but I hate it. It’s very frustrating and very invalidating. They’re basically saying your identity or who you are isn’t real and it’s not up to them to say that. It’s not up to anyone else to say that you are trans or not. That’s the bottom line of it.
“Now people are saying ‘you’re not real’, or ‘you’re a man in a dress’, and it’s frustrating. All that is required is the smallest amount of critical thinking and ability to see more than one side of the story.
There is progression and we are trying to make up for our overdue same-sex laws that were in place, but it made me realise also how much you can be in a little gender bubble. Like everyone’s patting each other on the back because we’ve worked this thing out about ourselves and everyone else in the world should switch onto it and then something like this comes up and you read the comments section and you realise there are thousands of people who believe it’s all just fake” Chloe said.
Charlie Disher is also a UTAS student who has been recently having difficulty changing from his deadname on his UTAS records. Hassles such as these occur often to members of the transgender community. The transphobic communities of Hobart don’t understand, as many of us do not, the daily life of someone who is transgender, but seeing a constant debate about your identity would have an awful impact. Charlie said that the debate ended up being too much to handle.
“It’s not fun. You can kind of ignore it for a little bit, but you will just be reading the news and see something from the Christian Lobbying group and they’re just attacking it for absolutely no reason. I just don’t see why it affects them, or why it bothers them so much, and you want to be able to say things but you also get really tired about it.
“It also becomes a debate with your friends sometimes, and family, and you just don’t want to have to explain yourself and explain every little thing every time… it just gets too much,” Charlie said.
We have a duty of care to love and accept all of those in our community. The passing of the bill to change gender markers on birth certificates is a step forward to show solidarity with our transgender community. Tasmania has come a long way in terms of LGBTQI+ rights, but still has a far way to go.