Trans politics: “I was a protestor – now a protest has been directed at me”

The forum was called “Pride and Prejudice in Policy” and was hosted by the School of History and Philosophy of Science within the Arts Faculty of the University of Melbourne. Hardly a hotbed of reactionary or conservative thinking – quite the contrary.

The forum was a discussion about how diversity benchmark programs work. Nobody was questioning transgenderism itself. But apparently some trans activists believe that even discussing benchmarking is to be equated with being transphobic. They argue that any debate which could lead to discussing the difference between sex and gender is in itself a transphobic discussion.

Not one word undermining the lived experience of transgender and gender-diverse people was uttered at the forum – nor was ever going to be. The three-person panel included long-standing activist Dr Julie Peters who has frequently documented her own transition and has become the unofficial archivist of the struggle for transgender rights.

Another of our panellists, Linda Gale, is a long-serving and distinguished member of the Australian Greens and a union official. As she explained in a column in The Age in June, she was this year removed from the elected position of convenor of the Victorian Greens after trans lobbyists objected to some aspects of an internal Greens discussion paper she had written a few years before.

It’s hard to comprehend how a life-long feminist leftie, who has devoted herself to a smorgasbord of progressive causes, could be described as transphobic. Trying to shout down a forum on how a workplace diversity program operates seems a lot like bullying.

Free speech is an essential ingredient to any functioning democracy and particularly any independent centre for scholarship and deep thinking, such as the University of Melbourne. Free speech never means open slather – there are all sorts of qualifiers including the laws on defamation and hate speech. But a respectful and sensitive discussion of issues that can be a major influence on our community must never be declared off limits.

I am mystified at how some people within the trans community have become so aggressive and censorious. Attacking your friends does not help in the battle against real enemies. When it comes to supporting diversity, the champions of diversity must show they can embrace diversity of opinion, too.

Source: Trans politics: “I was a protestor – now a protest has been directed at me”

One thought on “Trans politics: “I was a protestor – now a protest has been directed at me””

  1. The response has all the hall marks and subtlety of North Korea.

    No discussion can be tolerated because it would bring up the obvious question about biological sexual reality sooner or later.

    And then the house of cards would collapse…

    Melbourne Uni may need to invest in security guards to keep the peace when ‘trigger warnings’ and ‘safe spaces’ are not quite cutting it…

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