I used to have a sweet, very traumatised, abominably stupid dog, who wouldn’t go into the backyard to wee if it was raining. She would stand in the doorway, looking at the falling rain, crying and sometimes pissing herself. I tried all sorts of different tactics – umbrellas, coaxing her out with freshly cooked chicken, once even heading out there myself and trying to lead the way by doing my own sad human urination in the rain.
The solution ended up being ridiculous – I simply took her out the front of our house. It was still raining there, but I just acted like it wasn’t. She would pee happily, equally as wet as she would have been out the back, bamboozled by the brazen duplicity of my ploy. The only way I managed to pull one over her so blatantly, so ridiculously, so successfully, was because she was unfortunately extremely stupid, and I knew it.
That’s what a whole bunch of people think of Australia right now, of you. They think we’re so stupid that they can just get away with lying to us, manipulating us into falling for their extremely obvious grifts. They think they can just say blatantly untrue things and we’ll go along with it. I’m talking about anti-trans weirdos who think they can have literal Nazis turn up to their rallies and that we’ll ignore every implication of that horrifying marriage. They think they can tell us that it isn’t raining, when it clearly is.
For some reason, with old-fashioned cold-war style logic, the country of Australia has suddenly become the target of a whole range of different bigots and grifters and conservatives, and they’re using trans people as the ammunition in a culture war, as a distraction from other pertinent issues. We’re being sized up like naive town-folk by a bunch of shark-eyed carnies with a rigged game of hoop throw. They’re assuming we’re utter rubes, to be fleeced, to have our pockets turned inside out. Anti-trans grifters from overseas are coming to Australia and trying to stir up hysteria, trying to stir up a witch hunt like bored Salem townspeople, leaning heavily into a new Satanic panic narrative except instead of rock’n’roll and wild fears about Satan, it’s just about trans people trying to live their lives with dignity and respect (which I guess is pretty rock’n’roll?).
I’m not trans, but I’ve been reporting on LGBTIQ+ issues in Australia for a while, and it’s frustrating to see all the old classic tropes of homophobia we’ve been dealing with being repackaged into trans panic, purely because the trans community are more vulnerable right now, an easier target. Now that we’ve had Queer Eye on Netflix, and we have the gay dads on Modern Family (but we only claim one of them), the cis gays are just too culturally powerful, so they’ve shifted their gaze.
Some of these transphobes are motivated by greed and grift, simply using the latest marginalised group as fodder for whatever scam they’re running, whatever grift gets them a platform in the media, gets them some coin. Some of them are just the same old bigots, conservative, far-right, ultra-religious weirdos and extremists who have been banging this intolerant drum since the dawn of time, who smell blood in the water and have identified the trans community as vulnerable. And then there’s the usual carrion feeders of politicians and media who know they can benefit the more hysterical and deranged the culture war gets. Lots of these people are radicalised into insane conspiracy theories, QAnon adjacent stories of trans organisations and big pharma secretly running the world. If trans people are secretly running the world, why did they allow Young Sheldon to get another series, huh? There’s a whole Arkham Asylum of various b-list villains, each with their own brand of stink – more than I could name. All of them just think we’re criminally dim.
And it’s all nonsense that’s easily debunked, that relies on slippery slope theories, that uses pseudo-science and misinformation and conspiracy and paranoia as the foundations for their concerns. It’s all scare-tactics around trans women in bathrooms (I remember when it was gays in bathrooms), trans people being groomers and pedophiles who shouldn’t be around your kids (I remember when it was gay people who shouldn’t be around your kids), or trans women in sport (I don’t remember gay people ever doing sport actually). It’s spreading lies about Dan Andrews and teachers and drag queens trying to “turn your child trans”. The current scare topic shifts every week. It’s sharing the same transphobic views and rallies as actual Nazis, which happened in Melbourne on the weekend when proud Australian nazis turned up to support an anti-trans rally.
There’s also a deep vein of mind your own fucking business, that we should all be mindful of – do we really want to listen to the toilet police, who want to inspect your genitals to make sure they match up with their 1950s ideals of who should have what when it comes to pants? No! Mind your own business/ genitals.
It’s why Australia has the pleasure of protesting the speaking tour “Let Women Speak”, of anti-trans activist Posie Parker, whose real name is Kellie-Jay Keen. Kelly Jay-Keen is kinda similar to the pop-star Pink, in the sense that she’s a short-haired blonde woman who loves to tour Australia, but also the complete opposite because she can’t draw a crowd and doesn’t spend her rallies sailing over our heads doing flips and tumbles, which would at least add a little razzle-dazzle to the bigotry. Keen only turns up to countries where the anti-trans rhetoric is ramping up, sniffing out opportunities to push her message (and get some speaking fees). Parker is a podcaster and campaigner who has spoken across the world against trans rights – but always from the perspective of “speaking up for women ”, but never defining herself as a feminist. While in Australia, she’s also campaigning to restrict access for girls under the age of 16 to have access to birth control, contraception, or abortion. Her trip is partly funded by the Australian branch of the US organisation CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), and she’s previously had women’s advocacy organisations cut ties with her for instances of Islamophobia and allegations of white supremacy and ties to the far right. At her rally in Melbourne, Nazis turned up to support her and did Nazi salutes, holding banners that said “destroy paedo freaks”.
Doesn’t it just make you mad that she thinks you’re such a fucking nincompoop that we’ll believe her scam, that we’re supposed to believe she’s here to speak on behalf of women, that we’ll ignore the fact she shares some of the same views as actual nazis. Do you think we’re going to IGNORE LITERAL NAZIS MARCHING THROUGH ONE OF OUR MAJOR CITIES UNIMPEDED?
Doesn’t it get your back up that she, and all the homegrown transphobes and terfs and rogues gallery of intolerants who are supporting her, believe that we’re ripe for the Posie Parker Bigotry World Tour 2023, ready for the Carmen Sandiago of hate-grifting to be parachuted in to tour every city? Makes me furious, because it shows how little they think of the Australian public. Luckily there’s a little bit of joy to be found in how embarrassingly small her rallies around Australia have been (even when they’re padded out with Nazis, the trans rights protesters have always outnumbered her), proving that this vocal minority are loud on the internet and thin on the ground. I’ve been to colonoscopies with bigger crowds and less assholes than a Kelly Jay-Keen rally.
Doesn’t it make you seethe that our own politicians are sniffing the shit on the air and deciding that they can win back power by catering to these lowest-common denominator politics? It’s laughable that in the last election the Liberal party threw all their old money power behind compulsive election loser Katherine Deves, who campaigned almost entirely on trans hysteria talking points. Her campaign was dominated by resurfaced comments where she called trans children “surgically mutilated and sterilised” and likened her lobbying to stop transgender athletes from competing in women’s sport to standing up against the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Doesn’t it make you laugh that they made her the captain’s pick and parachuted her into Warringah, where she gained just 32.4 per cent of the first preference vote, suffering a swing of -6.6 per cent.
Sure, she failed, relegated now to committed Sky News commentator who has to post grovelling apologies for publicly calling Australian icon and beloved drag queen Courtney Act a “groomer” and implying they are a paedophile – but the indication of how little these politicians think of us, that we’ll fall for scare politics, that we’ll vote based on confected fears around trans people? That’s infuriating.
If that’s an indication of just how easily they think they can play us, think of how our media has responded – how many front page covers of newspapers do you think a single-issue election loser like Deves deserves? According to our media, several – because they think they can turn attacks on trans lives into fodder for lucrative clicks. How many times will the SBS invite her to speak as a guest on trans issues – so far it’s twice on their Insight program alone. Imagine having a show about racism or anti-semitism, and inviting a one-issue racist or anti-jew campaigner to speak? (oh wait, Australian media does that as well, stop platforming Nazis!) They think they can sneak this past you, so they can get outrage views on a show struggling for relevance.
This hysteria is lucrative for the media. You only need to look at how the Tasmanian Examiner was recently discovered to have published a letter describing a “trans person” entering female change rooms at a swimming pool and “changing in front of children”— except the incident did not happen at all. It was completely made up. The Examiner editor Mark Westfield said he was solely responsible for the selection and placement of letters, and that he did not have time to check the claims that were made, which is giving huge Dolly Doctor vibes. Westfield was a campaign manager and media adviser for Katherine Deves, coincidentally. Coincidentally? C’mon, they think we’re so stupid!!
I could talk in depth and emotionally about the awful consequences of all this for the trans community – in the UK the grief over the murder of 16-year-old trans woman Brianna Ghey still rages, a concrete and tragic manifestation of the end-point of anti-trans hysteria and rhetoric. I can point to our vulnerable trans youth, to the growing hate rhetoric that casts all trans women as predators and pedophiles, and all trans men as victims, to the increase in hate crimes, to the rise in suicide for trans youth – it’s all there, all backed up by stats and figures. If you consider yourself an ally, as someone who supports marginalised communities, it’s absolutely time for us to stand up for the trans community and do it loudly, and show them that they are not alone. There’s a very good chance that I can appeal to your heart and your sense of justice, because you’re probably a good person. But that’s not actually what I’m doing here in this article – I just want you to realise these people think you, you personally, are such an unrepentant dum-dum that you’ll eat this all up like a toddler in the cat’s litter box.
Even if you’re a little over the whole confected debate (which is fair, it’s being done in bad faith by people around the world who all dress like Captain Planet villains), even if you’re someone who doesn’t rub shoulders with the trans or wider LGBTIQ community (that you know of), even if the whole pronoun thing has left you secretly sighing with a bit of exasperation at the ungrammatical tangle of it all, you should STILL care because these losers and con-men and cabbage-smelling henchfolk think so little of you, think you’ll ignore this rising hate movement, the Nazis of it all, or succumb to misinformation and outright lies. Ahhh, they think so little of you, huh?
They don’t know who we are. We are the country who had 61.6% of the popular vote yes in the same-sex marriage postal survey, a sign of our concrete support for the LGBTIQ community, a confirmation of our belief in sticking up for the underdog. You only need to look at some of our local grifting personalities, like Binary Australia who began entirely as an anti gay marriage organisation and then rebranded to anti-trans after they lost, thinking we wouldn’t notice, to understand why this comparison is apt. We are the country who, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by Equality Australia in July 2020, with a representative sample of 1,026 Australians aged 18 years and over, found that 78% of Australians agree that trans people deserve the same rights and protections as other Australians. This is a country proud of its diverse community, home of the Sydney gay and lesbian mardi gras. Recently, when drag queens inexplicably became the latest target for groomer panic, when neo Nazi figures here and in New Zealand have been storming into libraries and harassing their performances for children, I was reminded of how beloved drag as an art form is here. We’re the country of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. They think we’ll forget how much we love drag? Haven’t they ever been to a hens night?
We are better than they think we are. We are smarter. We are hotter. We aren’t stupid enough to fall for a media beat-up, the imported culture wars and far-right tours of our country, the Nazis standing on the steps of Victoria’s parliament. We are media literate enough in this country to look at the platforming of debunked ideas and cringe figures by our mainstream media with scepticism and scorn. We aren’t silly little parochial convicts that will vote in our elections from fear and hysteria – we’ll vote to support our values, the things that matter to us, and protect our trans family and LGBTIQ community.
You don’t necessarily need to march in a parade, or donate to a charity, or cover yourself in glitter and pretend to be interested in The Real Housewives franchise, or go to a drag show – you just need to be smart enough to see that anti-trans hysteria is being pushed on you because they think you’re weak enough to fall for it.
But you won’t. We won’t. When they tell us it’s not raining, we’ll be smart enough to look outside and make that decision ourselves, and piss with glorious freedom wherever we want.