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Let them serve: Defence drops ban on transgender soldiers

Chief of the Defence Force Angus Houston issued an instruction Monday revoking the policy that effectively banned transgender service members. The ADF is believed to be the last government agency that specifically fired employees for transitioning gender.

The individual whose recent gender transition lead to the reform work was not available for public comment, but the referral service that assists gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender service members, DEFGLIS, was aware that commanders had been anything but understanding.

While the ADF works on a new policy to address those problems, slated for December, Air Chief Marshall Houston called on commanders to show more understanding. Monday’s signal instructed commanders to “manage ADF transgender personnel with fairness, respect and dignity … and existing medical review provisions; and ensure all personnel are not subjects to unacceptable behavior”.

It comes 18 years after the ADF repealed the ban on gay and lesbian service members, and two years after it started recognising same-sex relationships for family entitlements. Yet Australia still trails Canada, Israel, Czech Republic, Spain and Thailand, which not only allow transgender soldiers to serve but also support them through diversity programs.

Last year the ADF joined a Pride in Diversity sexualities conference with Justice Michael Kirby to look into discrimination in the forces, the first time the ADF consulted outside on the issue. Gay and lesbian soldiers and their families have marched in the Mardi Gras for the past three years but are still waiting for authorisation to do so in uniform like other community events.

Medical discharges for service members who express transgender feelings has become standard across the globe since “gender identity disorder” was included in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM III) in 1980. The draft of the fifth edition has become mired in controversy over whether the diagnoses should remain when many transgender people do not regard cross-gender feelings as a disorder.

Transgender people haven’t had good fortune with Western militaries, with recent examples including:

  • US Army private Barry Winchell was killed by a fellow soldier in 1999 when it was discovered he was in a relationship with a transgender woman. His story inspired the 2003 film Soldier’s Girl and became a point of controversy in the country’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell debate.
  • British Army soldier Joanne Rushton had served in Kosovo, Bosnia and Northern Ireland as well as the British Army boxing team, but was fired in 2003 after undergoing s-x reassignment surgery. A year later the UK government signed the Gender Recognition Act into law.
  • Last year, French Air Force guard Delphine Ravisé-Giard had been living as a woman for two years with full support of her colleagues and the service when she faced hurdles making the transition official in law. A court ordered she undergo breast enhancement or revert to being a man.

The US-based Palm Centre, which specialises in LGBT military matters, released a report on transgender soldiers in 2007 that found much of the military’s beliefs about transgender and intersex medical requirements were myths and posed no barrier to effective service.

While transgender and intersex people will no longer be fired from government employment, there remains significant discrimination against this segment of the Australian population.

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s Sex Files report last year found systemic barriers for cross-gender and intersex individuals to obtain relevant personal documentation, that in some cases, the absence of which endangered lives. Further, Commissioner Graeme Innes said the commission didn’t have the resources to further investigate other problems such as the lack of access to medical services and appropriate protections from discrimination.

Under order from the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, the Passports Office now provides better documentation to Australians travelling overseas for sex reassignment surgery.

There are no Commonwealth protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of gender status, however the Gillard government has promised to address the issue for the first time when it consolidates existing anti-discrimination laws during this term. The Fair Work Act currently includes sexual orientation as a form of unfair discrimination, but not gender status.

News of the demise of the transgender ban will undoubtedly raise the ire of retired Brigadier Jim Wallace, who heads the Australian Christian Lobby. Wallace has been an outspoken opponent of gays and women serving in combat roles.

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  • 1
    SBH
    Posted Wednesday, 15 September 2010 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Still, by Guy Rundle’s reasoning, the fact that men, with their hard bodies, have traditionally done the fighting bit, we should think very carefully about letting transgender people into the military. I don’t have a reason, just a prejudice based on some child hood trauma.

  • 2
    Sancho
    Posted Wednesday, 15 September 2010 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    specifically fired employees

    In Australia employees are sacked. Are we going to see “sidewalk”, “flashlight” and “flip-flop” as the standard terms on Crikey?

  • 3
    Acidic Muse
    Posted Wednesday, 15 September 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    @SBH

    I hope you weren’t touching yourself when you were thinking about “men, with their hard bodies traditionally doing all the fighting”

    You are seemingly unaware that women first served in the Aussie military during World War II and that the RAAF was the first service to fully integrate women into operational units in 1977.

    The only positions from which women are currently excluded are those with a high probability of hand to hand combat, like infantry

    Having watched a 6ft Tongan tranny beat 4 bogans who had tried to mug her into unconsciousness in Kings Cross circa 1995, I suspect some would have a lot to offer in combat roles too

    As the prophet Eddie Izzard (all praise be to him/her) once said

    We all know one of the main factors of war is the element of surprise. And what could be more surprising than the First Battalion Transvestite Brigade - Airborne Wing parachuting in behind enemy lines wearing fabulous make up?”

    From his Dressed to Kill DVD :)

  • 4
    SBH
    Posted Wednesday, 15 September 2010 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    you’ve missed the point comrade

  • 5
    Posted Wednesday, 15 September 2010 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Cool, now transgender people can kill Afghan civilians too. What a victory.

  • 6
    Nemesis
    Posted Wednesday, 15 September 2010 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Can you imagine what an enemy soldier will be thinking will be done to them, knowing they are facing someone who would cut there own testicles of.

  • 7
    Holden Back
    Posted Wednesday, 15 September 2010 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Acidic Muse you are right- NEVER mess with a fa’afafine.

  • 8
    RadarGrrl
    Posted Wednesday, 15 September 2010 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    I am one of the Canadian Forces members who has transitioned while in uniform, the eighth out of likely well over fifty now, in fact. Outside of a few dinosaurs that have given people like me problems, there have been no problems. The Canadian Forces has every reason to accept people like me and to see us through our transition just as they do for any other military member with any other medical issue. I have been serving for over 23 years, and, as a qualified electronics technician, they have untold thousands of dollars invested in my training. Why would they want to throw that away for the sake of a fully treatable medical issue with one of the highest success rates in modern medicine? It seems to me that the Australian Defence Forces would do well to follow our lead.

  • 9
    RJ
    Posted Wednesday, 15 September 2010 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Thank you!
    I have suffered with this secret for years(fearing dismissal), which has taken its emotional toll. I was actually on the verge of coming out this week anyway.
    This is such heavenly timing, my prayers really have been answered. I now feel I have the strength to come out and be the real me. Interesting and rocky times ahead, but its about time the ADF caught up with countries like Canada. Words can not express what a development like this means for my life, and how that improves the workplace.

  • 10
    Harley Dennett
    Posted Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    Sancho, you caught me! I’ve been living in Washington too long and picked up all those dreadful American words. I shall flagellate myself with a Macquarie dictionary at once.

    But perhaps a more apt critique is why was this ADF policy shift only noticed by a single journo who doesn’t even reside in Australia? The ADF has more than 120 press handlers across its labyrinthine organisational structure, but not one considered that this information relevant to the public, or even the servicemembers affected. Somewhere along the line the Australian media stopped reporting Defence department stories that weren’t spoon-fed.

    To my thinking, that weakness in the media is of greater concern than an evolving style guide.

  • 11
    Bayne
    Posted Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    SBH. Joan of Arc. Your argument is therefore invalid. Here’s some more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wartime_crossdressers

    As for your childhood trauma, sorry to hear about that. You should ask some Transgender people about their childhood traumas though. Trauma is a good reason to support better mental health care services though not a reason to stop those willing to serve their country from being able to do so.

  • 12
    Nemesis
    Posted Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    @ Harley Dennett

    Simple, because it is not news to allow citizens to serve there country.

    You have been in reactionary washington way to long. On the rest of the planet, people are starting to see changing sex, as a ‘so what’ thing.

    Only in the US are they obsessed about people changing sex, being gay, coloured, what sex they are, etc.

  • 13
    Acidic Muse
    Posted Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    @Harvey

    I have no doubt the ADF media unit was trying to keep this as far below the radar as possible to avoid creating yet another lurid tabloid media circus in our currently highly polarised political climate

    No doubt we’ll shortly be seeing “Tranny’s To Terrorise Taliban” or “ADF Allows Cock In Frock Shock” on the front page of the Daily Terror whilst the Australian sanctimoniously mourns moral decay in one of this nations institutional icons *barf*

    @RadarGrrl

    Congratulations on successfully transitioning in uniform - no doubt any Army can use recruits with that kind of courage

    Here in Australia large sections of the transgender community have eschewed the notion so popular in North America that transsexualism is a “medical condition” that needs to be fixed

    The New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Act defines a transgender person as someone who

    identifies as a member of the opposite sex by living, or seeking to live, as a member of the opposite sex; or

    has identified as a member of the opposite sex by living as a member of that sex; or

    being of indeterminate sex, identifies as a member of a particular sex by living as a member of that sex, and includes a person being thought of as a transgender person, whether the person is, or was, in fact a transgender person

    Hopefully the ADF will adopt a similarly less medicalised definition when developing it’s own policies

    @Nemisis

    It’s a popular misconseption that most American’s are reactionarly religious whackjobs but having spent a lot of time there I can assure you it’s not the case.

    That said, I noticed a LOT of Republicans spend more time obsessing about anal penetration than any gay man I’ve ever known :)

  • 14
    RadarGrrl
    Posted Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    @ Acidic Muse: There’s reasons why I stand up. Some of them involve education about issues like this one.

    There are actually two definitions for the term ‘transgender’. One of them is the definition you mention above, or some of it, anyway:

    someone who identifies as a member of the opposite sex by living, or seeking to live, as a member of the opposite sex; or has identified as a member of the opposite sex by living as a member of that sex

    The other is an umbrella term, including anything and everything from a crossdresser to a drag queen/king to a transgender person as described above, to a transsexual person.

    I am a transsexual person. I identify completely as the opposite sex to that which was assigned me at birth so much that I required surgery and hormone therapy just so I could be comfortable in my own body

    I find that ‘transgender’ is used far too interchangeably than ‘transsexual’ by the mainstream media, who usually prove them to be downright ignorant about this issue. They will use ‘transgender’ as a direct substitute for ‘transsexual’, even though ‘transgender’ encompasses so much more. As a result, many people wind up equating transsexual people such as myself with someone like Eddie Izzard or RuPaul. Neither of these is representative of a typical transsexual person, and many of us bristle at the comparison. It seems to take transsexual people themselves to correct the situation.

    A few other things from that definition you mention…

    or being of indeterminate sex, identifies as a member of a particular sex by living as a member of that sex, and includes a person being thought of as a transgender person, whether the person is, or was, in fact a transgender person

    Someone of ‘indeterminate sex’ as the definition puts it, would be more correctly identified as an intersex person, and it’s a completely different issue than somebody who’s transgender. As for the last bit, it should be up to the person themself who determines whether or not he or she is transgender or intersex, nothing to do with what they’re ‘thought to be’. Labelling someone with either when they do not identify as such is just plain wrong.

    One last thing, you’ll notice that I spell ‘transgender’ and ‘intersex’, not transgendered or intersexed. The latter are common mistakes made by the mainstream media and people in general, as is the tendency to use ‘transgender’ and ‘transsexual’ as nouns, rather than the adjectives they are. The short form ‘trans’ is generally considered acceptable as well. I am a transsexual woman, not a transsexual. Don’t get me started on ‘tranny’, which is as offensive to trans people as n***** is to black folk.

  • 15
    timtam
    Posted Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    As someone very close to the serving member who brought about this change I want to just put a few issues into perspective:
    1. Although the attitude should be ‘so what?’, because apart from her immediate family, this is no one elses business and really doesn’t impact them, as an Army officer she was treated very poorly and the Army tried to terminate her service after more ten years and multiple operational deployments. The Army is still now not treating this person or their family very well, but she has had the courage to fight them and their discriminatory attitudes and policies and this is a victory and very important to the people the policy affected but also important for changing attitudes in Australian society towards trans people.
    2. The ADF policy used the word ‘transgender’ but it was a rubbish document anyway. There seems to be a tendency in Australia to avoid transexual because people think that it has something to do with sex or fetishes, but the member involved is a true transexual in that she has always felt like she should have been born female (although she strongly suppressed this for many years) and got to a point where she was considering suicide if she couldn’t figure out a way to get her body and brain to match. She is undergoing the full treatment including SRS and has risked her job, her family relationships and her marriage to do what she needs to do, which is very different to someone who just wants to wear pretty clothes or play at it sometimes. This is her life and she just wants to be her true self.
    3. The Army has been trying to keep us secret from the day they realised they wouldn’t get away with terminating her service, so of course there is no publicity about it. They are in a tail spin about all the repercussions, instead of growing up and realising that this officer is more than capable of doing her job and that this is just something they have to accept because the defence force is a reflection of society.
    Anyway, obviously there is a lot more to this story and you will probably hear more about it. I hope everyone remembers that this is a real person who is at a very vulnerable stage of her life and has been bullied and discriminated against by their employer for over a year just to get to this stage and that there is also a loving partner and two children involved. While the politics are interesting and it is important progress for trans rights, there are also some very hurt, very vulnerable people behind this story who need some compassion and some support for their bravery.

  • 16
    RadarGrrl
    Posted Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    @ TimTam: If your friend needs a kindred spirit, tell her to get in touch with Zoe Brain who can put you in touch.

  • 17
    Acidic Muse
    Posted Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    @Radar grrl

    A small number of transsexuals down-under fought tooth and nail for the medicalised model, asserting that having been “fixed” by the medical establishment, they would somehow be diminished by being included in any broader definition of transgendered.

    Nonetheless, the broader ts/tg community decided it was far more important to protect the rights of all people who faced similar forms of discrimination for living full-time in a gender opposite to that into which they were legally born - not just those who sought surgical intervention to do so. I note most European jurisdictions are now adpoting a similar model

    An inter sexed person who is legally prescribed a male gender at birth but whom later chooses to live as a female faces many of the the same kinds of day to day issues that a transsexual does. So does someone who changes their gender identity on a full-time, ongoing basis without surgical intervention.

    It became much more of a debate about human rights than the importance of narrow labels

    The gay community has had similar debates, creating a myriad of different labels in the process to delineate between different shades of non heterosexuality - queer, gender queer, bisexual, hetroflexible, MSM (men who have sex with men but don’t define themselves as gay or bi) pansexual etc. No doubt very useful for social researchers wanting to better define and describe various demographics more accurately but often fairly useless when trying to define legal rights and/or definitions

    Hopefully we can agree to disagree on this

    Whilst obviously some do find the term “tranny” offensive, it is like nigger - a word traditionally used to deride a minority group which is now widely embraced and used within those groups as both a term of endearment as well as often worn as a symbol of pride in the face of historical oppression.

  • 18
    SBH
    Posted Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Acidic muse and Bayne, it would help if you read all the words in context. In particular you should take note of the second, third fourth and fifth words in my post. I didn’t think my meaning was opaque however as two of you have gone astray allow me to explain.

    I was comparing this decision with the Rundle article which put forward his view that male gay couples should not be allowed to adopt children. Part of Rundle’s explanation (reason would just be the wrong word to use in the context) was that we were acculturated to soft female bodies as children and the absence of such would harm a child. This line of agrument could also be developed to say that we were acculturated to men in fighting roles. This I stress is using Rundle’s prejudice not mine.

    My estimation of a person gives no weight to the label placed on them or the shape of their bodies. Hope we’re clear now.

  • 19
    Bayne
    Posted Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    @ SBH, Point taken.
    @ Radargrrrl @ Acidic Muse

    Non-binary-gender Transgender people are not sufficiently covered in NSW legislation as the case brought against the Star casino showed. What was it said in court? “the law protects transsexuals not transvestites” “sexually you must prove you are transsexual” IIRC.

    Crossdressers, Genderqueers, Bi-Genders and other gender-diverse people make up a big chunk of the population, UK stats have 6% of males as Crossdressers, anecdotal evidence suggests maybe 1 in every 10 people are Transgender. At this minimum Transgender numbers are greater than self-defined Gay and Lesbian, greater than Aboriginal even.While Transsexuals still need a lot of change in Medicare coverage and documentation they get far more protection in NSW than the rest of Transgender. With the highest figures i’ve seen at 1 in 500 That means less than 1% of Transgender people have protection from discrimination. And while this anti-discrimination legislation covers more of the binary-gender transsexuals than usual it’s also still inconsistent with other legislation as the case of Conor Montgomery shows, told he has to have life-threatening surgery to get his documents amended. And that’s NSW, look at Western Australia for an even worse situation!

    The human rights of the majority of Transgender are still yet to be properly addressed or included in NSW. They are still vilified regularly. And elements of the Transsexual community have been especially bad at vilifying and opposing the human rights of much of the broader Transgender community. Yet the same human rights principles cover all of Transgender and Intersex and we can all fight for everyone’s equal rights. Which is what i do.

  • 20
    Acidic Muse
    Posted Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    @Bayne

    I’m not familiar with the Star Casino case to wit you refer to but the NSW legislation was specifically designed to give some protection to part time gender benders by including this line in the definition

    includes a person being thought of as a transgender person, whether the person is, or was, in fact a transgender person

    I suspect the problem lies in a lack of case law flowing from that definition - no doubt a function of the fact that most CDs who face discrimination whilst raising hell in heels can just go home and change back into their footy shorts.

    It’s therefore unlikely many if any would bother pursuing satisfaction through the courts

    The Law is all too often an ass unless you know how to use it

    @SBH

    I didn’t read the Rundle’s article in question but if your paraphrasing of his opinion is accurate, he’s certainly out to lunch on this issue

    Genetically predisposed to be mainly nurtured by females is probably a better description than “acculturated” but using this dubious benchmark as the litmus test for who can be a good parent, he must also be inferring that single dads shouldn’t be allowed to raise their own progeny in the event the mother dies in childbirth or becomes a crack-head

    Might be just alittle too wierd to suggest single dads go on oestrogen to soften their bodies .. lol

    Apologies if earlier my jibe at you was misplaced :)

  • 21
    Bayne
    Posted Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    @ Acidic Muse, yeah the trouble with that is if a person is claimed to be thought of as “really a man in a dress” or the opposite rather than mistaken for and discriminated against as a “recognised transgender” then they are not covered. Androgynous people, Genderqueers as well as Crossdressers are all not really protected.

    Here’s the report on the casino case which illustrates this:
    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/05/25/1211653847192.html

    Here’s Conor Montgomery’s case http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/transgender-challenge-to-rules-on-birth-certificates-20100407-rsb0.html

  • 22
    RadarGrrl
    Posted Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    @ Bayne: I haven’t the foggiest idea what the stats are for prevalence of transgender. The 1:500 I quoted was for the prevalence of transsexual people, (and, please, both words are adjectives, not nouns). They come from this page on Dr. Lynn Conway’s excellent website.

  • 23
    harrybelbarry
    Posted Friday, 17 September 2010 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    Looks like the ADF are running out of Cannon fodder?

  • 24
    RadarGrrl
    Posted Friday, 17 September 2010 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    @ Harrybelbarry: WTF?

  • 25
    Bayne
    Posted Friday, 17 September 2010 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    @ Radargrrl: I’ve seen Lynn’s site and it is quite good, though her 1:50 or 2% for Crossdressers fits the lower estimate the APA had on their site of 2%-3% and the UK figures of 6% are more reliable because there is less anti-crossdresser bias in the UK so a higher likelihood people would admit even anonymously to being so. But even Lynns conservative figure puts the CD numbers vastly higher than the TS ones and that’s still not counting Genderqueer and other non-binary-gender Transgender (numbers we would expect for a neurological model of Transgender where milder forms would be more prevalent).

    Last i heard the Sistagirl population of the Tiwi Islands is 4% and growing as they reclaim their Indiginous tradiotions.

    So even just using Lynns figures the majority of Transgender people are not protected properly under NSW law. Only the binary-gender ones who transition are, but even they could be possibly at risk if someone discriminates against them not for being ‘recognised transgender’ but for being thought to be crossdressers or genderqueers etc (or the decietful claim of such used as an excuse to get around the law!). So clearly for everyones sake the law needs amendment to protect all of Transgender. And we need the rest of NSW laws brought into line to help men like Conor and lots of other areas of legislative reform needed in healthcare, education and many other areas.

  • 26
    Soldiergrrl
    Posted Friday, 17 September 2010 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    anything but understanding” what a frickin understatement!

  • 27
    harrybelbarry
    Posted Friday, 17 September 2010 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    radargrrl , the ADF have not enough troops to keep fresh troops in pipastan , to help the yanks steal their oil and gas etc etc. That means faster turn around of troops back in the field , 2nd , 3rd and 4th tours in the 9 year war on terror ? The good old days of getting blokes drunk and then , them waking up on ships to serve king and queen, are over. Having a grandfather in ww1, mother and father , uncle in ww2 and have seen the results of Vietnam in a neighbor (found him in his car after 5 days, with the exhaust piped inside ) and a brother-in law with a drinking problem and lots of issues, i am not a fan of Govts sending our “Defense forces ” overseas on unwinnerable wars.

  • 28
    aidygoz
    Posted Saturday, 18 September 2010 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    As someone who was represented the transgender community in developing the NSW legislation referred to above, please let me clarify a few points.

    The definitions used in the NSW legisaltion were arrived at to cover ALL people who had changed their gender full time, irrespective of their medical status. This was agreed by all concerned - Govt. community organisations and pressure groups. It would be accurate to state that if purely medical criteria were insisted upon, (as a tiny minority of community members argued at the time) the legislation would never have happened. I for one would not have done anything to advance legislation that would have only benefited a minority of ts/tg people and I was the driving force behind the legislation. Almost all who contributed to the campaign felt the same way.

    The imputed transgender definitions, mistakenly referred to above as covering “part time gender benders” do not cover such people. Read the Hansard where the then Attorney-General, Jeff Sahw QC (RIP) specifically stated this. They are there to cover situations where a person is thought by the discriminator to be transgender and therefore discriminated against on those grounds. Similar ‘imputed’ provisions apply in, and are a standard part of other areas of anti-discrimination law (eg maritial status, homosexuality).

    The sections referring to ‘indeterminate sex’ are there to cover intersex people, at our request. Many are discriminated against because they are thought to be transgender. At the time, intersex people had no representation of their own. Many intersex people lived as part of the transgender community at the time, and still do. We insisted on the broadest possible definitions to cover all who lived outside gender norms.

    It is sad that certain sectors of the transgender community are using this and other matters to advance their own narrow interests to the exclusion of the broader community. A tiny number of people whose views coincide with Radarrgrrl’s actively and in my view, selfishly, opposed the legislation as they felt it was too broad. We were happy to share the benefits of the legislation with anyone who was discriminated against because they lived outside gender norms. Perhaps people would think much more highly of the transgender community if we all exhibited the same generosity of spirit.

    aidygoz (Aidy Griffin)

  • 29
    aidygoz
    Posted Saturday, 18 September 2010 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    @ Bayne

    In the Byrne case, the claim that “only transsexuals, and not transvestites” were covered by the NSW Anti-Discrimination laws was made by the lawyer representing the Casino. As a defence lawyer, this person has an obvious interest in claiming a narrow application of the law.

    In fact, the legislation makes no mention of either term. The law was designed to cover all who lived outside gender norms, without reference to their medical status. While i am unfamiliar with the details of the Byrne case I would be most surprised and disappointed if the discrimination claim failed on the basis of the evidence in the link you provided. It would appear to me to be tha case that as Byrne stated “I have always regarded myself as a woman and lived my life as a woman,” the case ought to fall well within the parameters of the legislation.

  • 30
    Soldiergrrl
    Posted Saturday, 18 September 2010 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Sorry but I can’t help but get frustrated at all of this squabbling over definitions. The law is never perfect and people will always misinterpret it to suit their needs, hence the requirement for challenges and courts resulting in rulings.

    The point of this article is to highlight the fact that someone took on the man and changed things for the better. So the ADF has stopped medically discharging transgender people as a result, that information was publicly available on the Defence internet and intranet sites prior to this article being released. The next step is for the ADF to actually gain some understanding of how to manage people through this process and get on with life so that this can be a non story in future because it is just the norm for an employer to embrace equity and diversity.

    I’m still surprised that the mainstream media hasn’t touched this at all really. This is actually a significant step forward for not only the ADF but potentially the nation. It is well overdue given that one aspect of the judge’s rulings in a nearly 10 year old Australian case has been referred to all over the world to progress the rights of transgender people and form a part of significant changes to the way that countries handle transgender issues. One example is the two cases cited on the UK Gender Recognition Panel Site (their panel doesn’t require surgery to amend your gender on paperwork) cites 2 cases that relied upon this Australian case.

    I really want to know what my government is doing about the then HREOC’s report and recommendations on gender diversity and when they are going to stop discriminating and violating its own citizen’s human rights. There are plenty of good examples out there, Canada and the UK if we want to stay within a commonwealth framework so it shouldn’t take too much brain power from our politicians to set things right in Australia. I’m just not sure that the brain power is actually there though.

  • 31
    Acidic Muse
    Posted Saturday, 18 September 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    @Bayne

    There is undoubtedly real merit in Conor Montgomery’s case. A number of European jurisdictions including the United Kingdom have in fact already changed laws to allow transsexuals to get passports and birth certificates in their new gender without having undergone full genital sexual reassignment surgery. The criteria is rooted in a persons capacity to demonstrate they are living full-time in a specific gender, not solely on how much they are willing to spend on surgery to do so.

    Hopefully it’s just a matter of time before similar changes are implemented here

    Like Aidy, I suspect the Casino will run into problems with its assertion that under the Anti-Discrimination Act the tribunal can only hear transgender cases, not those of a transvestite. That said, the complainant may come to regret claiming that he “always regarded himself as a woman and lived his life as a woman” if the Casino can successfully proves he’s someone who occasionally socialises and performs en femme.

    In his circumstances, I would have gone after Star Casino under the provisions of the NSW Liquor Act 2007 under which licensed premises may not “refuse entry, refuse service, remove someone from the premises or bar them because of their sex, pregnancy, race, marital status, age (apart from under-age drinking and gambling), disability, homosexuality or transgender status, or that of their relatives or associates” The venue would have then been compelled to prove the couple threatened to disrupt the orderly conduct of the business or that they failed to meet the same dress standards applied to everyone else. Given its’ own bar staff were cross-dressed, this may have proven an insurmountable barrier. Licensed premises don’t have to have exactly the same dress rules for men and women but it would seem unreasonable to argue you allow your staff to dress a certain way but not your patrons

    Whilst I agree with Aidy in principle that the legislation should wherever possible protect the rights of all those who live outside gender norms, I just can’t see how it would be possible to accommodate every single person who transgresses various norms at various times. The Law is fairly inflexible, for good reason, when it comes to how it allows us to define our legal identity. The same practical reasons that dictate each of us can have only one legal name or tax file number dictate the law can only allow us to have one legal gender identity. What you seem to aspire to here is a legislative framework whereby you can be legally considered male on certain days of the week and female on others? I’m just not convinced that is workable

    As much as I would love to see cross-dressers live as free of discrimination as possible, I’m not willing to accept legislative change that might for instance, allow rapists and paedophiles to claim some right to use female public toilets simply because they wear hot-pants and lipstick to the local park. This is but one of numerous reasons I believe cross dressers are simply barking up the wrong tree trying to lay claim to all legal rights and protections currently granted to transgender people. You simply can’t claim legal rights or protections for one group in society to the detriment of those of a much larger, even more vulnerable section of society

  • 32
    Bayne
    Posted Saturday, 18 September 2010 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Hi Aidy.
    Pleased to meet you.
    As the stats I quoted make clear the vast majority of Transgender people are non-binary in their gender expression and identity. Experiencing being both genders or betwen them, expressing themselves androgynously and/or alternatingly. Unless the definition of ‘changed their gender full-time’ allows for people whose gender expression is fluid then the majority of Transgender people aren’t being properly counted under that.

    The (vast) majority of Transgender people are ‘part-time gender-benders’ as offensive and inaccurate as that phrase is. People who still suffer violence, discrimination, vilification, high suicide rates, often varying degrees of body-dysphoria, the psychological harms of self-repression etc. People who still have a human need to not hide a significant part of who they are so the suggestion many make that they can ‘go home and change into their footy shorts’ is invalid, their human right to and need for self identification and self expression does not get erased by such an argument. While studies have so-far focused on binary-gender transsexuals nevertheless Dr Dick Swaab has been quoted as saying he predicts the entire gender spectrum will be biological in causation, Evidence is mounting for degrees of cross-sexed neurology from studies on not just Transsexual but also Intersex Gay and Lesbian brains including increasing evidence of a biological basis for bi-gender identity, which is to be expected as many other neurological variations like Asbergers and Autism occur in degrees or a spectrum.

    And irrespective of biological evidence that non-binary people still suffer violence and discrimination and vilification is reason enough that they need to be included under the protections.

    Additionally many full-time transitioners pass through a period of part-time gender expression, so a full-time requirement leaves them open to discrimination during that time. I personally know Intersex people too whose gender expression is fluid and non-binary.

    The legislation was an advance over many because it didn’t require surgery but it was insufficient because it has not held the government to recognise the rights of Conor Montgomery in his identification battle let alone covering non-binary people like myself and my partner. We both express our non-binary gender identity in a fluid and diverse way (and does ‘full-time’ cover 60/40 or even 90/10 splits?), all within our human rights under the Yogyakarta Principles, but because of our fluid and androgynous/alternating gender expression we aren’t really covered by a protection that requires us to be ‘full time’ in the genders opposite to our birth are we?

    I’d love to know whatever happened with the Byrne case and i’d be glad if you could find out.

    I know you did good work on that legislation for it’s day as it was quite progressive but it still appears to me to be fatally flawed, to leave out quite specifically the vast majority of Transgender people, presumably out of a flawed defining non-binary-gender Transgender as not actually Transgender whether built on past flawed research that held a binary-gender bias, or an incremental approach, is not at all sufficient. And it doesn’t seem to be binding over other government legislation as Conor has run into. Whether it’s Conor or Norrie May Welby or Me or my Partner it seems to me that the majority are definately still not protected when they ought to be.

    I do hope you will be willing to work with me on fixing these gaps and reforming the legislation.

  • 33
    Acidic Muse
    Posted Saturday, 18 September 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    @ Bayne

    What you refer to as “non binary transgendered people” would be considered at law to be either male or female gendered individuals (based on their current legal gender status) who occasionally adopt some or all of the accoutrements of the opposite gender for mostly theatrical, fetishistic or other recreational purposes.

    So maybe what you need to be campaigning for is a world where all people are free to dress as they please and express their various fetishes without fear of discrimination. That way my plushie friends, who love nothing more than regularly dressing up as teddy bears and having wild animal sex, could get into clubs other that Hellfire. I know they’d appreciate it

    Using your rationale, we’d probably also need specific legislation to protect lawyers and doctors who dress in leather and ride Harley’s at the weekend from being discriminated against on the basis some people mistake them for outlaw bikers. Surely you can see some of the problems with this approach to protecting everyone from everything

    It’s also something of a misrepresentation of the Yogyakarta Principles to assert this document is calling for balkanisation of gender to include every conceivable variation of gender identity that can be found in Internut chat-rooms

    The document specifically states” the use of the widely encompassing grounds of ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’, rather than attempting to define an exhaustive catalogue of specific identities avoids some of the hazards of identity politics, and ensures a more inclusive approach. It therefore seems somewhat irrational to be seeking legal recognition of “60/40 or even 90/10 splits” under the tenets of this document.

    I note you avoided addressing the conundrum posed in the last paragraph my previous post. Legislation has to work in the real world, not just in philosophical online discussion

  • 34
    Bayne
    Posted Saturday, 18 September 2010 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Acidic Muse, i see that you are unfamiliar with the current directions of evidence. Here is a good starting point for the accumulating data of Bi-Gender Neurology http://aebrain.blogspot.com/2008/06/bigender-and-brain.html

    Now while we do need general freedom of expression and anti-vilification laws to reduce things like the bashings of Goths http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/teen-who-was-bashed-for-dressing-like-a-goth-awarded-75000-compensation-for-brain-injury/story-e6freoof-1225923550607 the fact remains that claims that crossdressers and genderqueers are purely fetishistic and/or just for entertainment etc are not based on proper science. If you can point me to a comparative Biology study that finds no Biological evidence for cross-sexed neurology in crossdressers and genderqueers by actually testing for it then you would have a point, instead you will only find broken-methodology psychology claims that begin from the untested assumption that there is no biological causation and then sets up self-affirming systems to try and confirm it using circular arguments. The same claims of ‘fetish’ used to be used against Transsexuals with the same (lack of) quality research. In other words it’s unscientific nonsense. Whereas evidence is growing for bi-gender neurology. You also dismissed the lived experience of myself, my partner and many friends with the incorrect ‘fetish’ assumption. Even if it were sexually based, which it is not, as it is more common than homosexuality (not same-sex attraction though) it’d be a legitimate common ethical sexuality and so still just as appropriate and neccessary to protect.

    As biological models predict the existence of varying degrees of cross-sexed neurology phenomena.. What would a severe case look like do you think? And a mild case? The science supports a spectrum of gender not clear-cut absolutes.

    There are also other cases to require protections:
    Cultural is one. As many of the worlds cultures include many forms of diverse gender variance including Indigenous cultures of Australia and it’s neighbouring regions.

    Then there is the argument of plain need. The groups suffering significant discrimination violence and oppression should be protected. Non-binary-gender expressing people clearly have this need as they suffer plenty of violence and discrimination. Any possibility a binary-gender transitioned person could be discriminated against under the excuse that they were not thought to fit the ‘recognised transgender’ catagory but were thought to be a crossdresser or genderqueer also should be fixed.

    And Human Rights are based on basic Principles. If someone, even down to a minority of just one individual, has a bi-gender gender identity than their right to gender expression includes the right to bi-gender gender expression. So the same human rights principles that produced the yogyakarta principles form the original UN decleration requires the recognition of the right to non-binary-gender expression.

    Adding Gender Expression to legislation is simple and would work in the ‘real world’. It’s better human-rights language as it would protect Cisgender every bit as much as broad-spectrum Transgender just like sexuality protects straights too. And as a significant amount of discrimination against Gays and Lesbians comes from Gender-Expression it also removes a loophole which could be used to discriminate against all but ‘straight-acting’ Gays Lesbians and Bisexuals.

    The non-binary gender Transgender community suffers plenty of bias-motivated violence, vilification, discrimination, bullying, closeting and as a consequence of these mental illness and suicide. Therefore there is clear reason it should be included in protections and where is the reason not to do so?

  • 35
    Bayne
    Posted Saturday, 18 September 2010 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Acidic Muse, unless you can show that those places that have already given protections to all Transgender people including Genderqueers Crossdressers and other forms of Transgender not currently protected in NSW have had a corresponding increase in public amentiy sexual assault then your comment “As much as I would love to see cross-dressers live as free of discrimination as possible, I’m not willing to accept legislative change that might for instance, allow rapists and paedophiles to claim some right to use female public toilets simply because they wear hot-pants and lipstick to the local park.” must be based on mythic fear not actual risk.

    I also wonder where the ID Gender checks were in the bathrooms i have used through my life as I have never seen any.

    I also wonder how we address Same-Sex sexual predators in public amenities currently as women who rape women and abuse girls do exist amongst Cisgender people, same amongst cisgender males.

    And how do you justify allowing the non-operated-on full-time Transgender people into the womens but not the bi-gender ones? Upon what do you base this claim of great risk coming from Crossdressers and Genderqueers?

    Now if we want safer bathrooms moving to single-user ones with security cameras in the hall outside rather than more dangerous communal-space ones may help, but that doesn’t require putting Genderqueer people with androgynous presentation and appearance at risk in Either bathroom or allowing stores to kick out Crossdressers etc. Certainly the cameras might stop the straight cisgender able-bodied people who were having very loud sex in the Parramatta shopping centre disabled toilets while i was just using a toilet for what it was intended for.

    As for: “You simply can’t claim legal rights or protections for one group in society to the detriment of those of a much larger, even more vulnerable section of society” I could try and explain how human rights actually work but then before even trying i have to wonder who the heck you are talking about? Because any out Transgender person has a very high rate of suffering assault and that includes Genderqueer and Crossdressers! In fact the more gender non-conforming often the higher risk! So who are the ‘more vulnerable’ you mention? And when considering large numbers of people well we already protected the 1 in 500 Binary-gender Transgender people so why not the 6 in 100 non-binary ones?

    Your justification is inconsistent and groundless. As an excuse for keeping a significant number of people (6%+ non-binary-gender Transgender, and lets not forget Intersex, 1 in 60 people, still does not have direct protection either, reason enough for reform of the law) from basic antidiscrimination protections the ‘bathroom predator’ myth, so often used sans-evidence to try and deny any Transgender people their rights despite no evidence ever existing for it, that argument is not a very sound one.

    My experiences were bad enough for HREOC to quote me when they were doing their Sex and Gender Diversity consultation and report so i and the people like me who have suffered even worse than I should enjoy basic protections.

  • 36
    Acidic Muse
    Posted Sunday, 19 September 2010 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    @Bayne

    Oh great…now we need anti discrimination and vilification legislation for Goths too… I actually had no idea they’d found the gene that makes someone a Goth..lol…what about aussie hip hoppers? Now there’s a gene we definitely need to screen for :)

    Jokes aside, your logic here is simply faulty

    Just because a certain human behaviour has a genetic basis doesn’t necessarily mean that behaviour should have any greater standing in the eyes of the law nor require it’s protection under law. The presence or absence or various genes , like MAOA, have already been linked to aggressive or violent behaviour in men but you are unlikely to see any great social movement campaigning to give violent perpetrators with this kind of genetic variation a get out of jail free card.

    Virtually all human behaviour, fetishistic or not, is to greater or lesser extent encoded in our DNA. In fact, the whole basis of our materialistic hierarchical society is rooted in evolutionary biology, honed over millions of years by the positive feedback mechanisms inherent in sexual and natural selection.

    All very fascinating stuff but simply not relevant to deciding what we should include in Anti Discrimination legislation

    Yes, cross dressing is a perfectly natural expression of the human condition but like masturbating, fishing and/or dancing, it’s not one that requires inclusion in laws that were specifically designed to protect the rights of people who have legally changed their gender from that of their birth

    Maybe you aren’t aware, but bashing goths, cross-dressers and members of all other minority sub cultures is actually already against the law.

    No doubt many cross dressers would love to have the right to change the gender in which they go to work on a day to day basis protected under law, but I suspect few in wider society are likely to see it as a human right so fundamental it needs to be legislated.

    People who go to work or out clubbing dressed up as Werewolves, Snow White or Ronald McDonald may not always get the degree of social acceptance they might otherwise like, but I seriously doubt society will be open to including them in anti discrimination legislation any time soon either

    So good luck with your campaign to balkanize gender to accomodate your own predilections but I’m done responding here for now

  • 37
    Bayne
    Posted Sunday, 19 September 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    @ Acidic Muse “Oh great…now we need anti discrimination and vilification legislation for Goths too. ” Yes, where people are significantly vilified and discriminated against we need to protect them. Otherwise it’s hypocritical for us to keep the existing protections we have.

    I actually had no idea they’d found the gene that makes someone a Goth….”

    Religion is not biological and yet we protect discrimination against people on the grounds if their religion because people were commonly being discriminated against on those grounds!

    …your logic here is simply faulty… Just because a certain human behaviour has a genetic basis ..”

    I did not argue that biological causation was the sole reason for protection. So your response shows you either did not completely read what i wrote and misunderstood it or your making an unsupportable argument, you found no flaw in my logic there.

    My point about biology was that the same biological causation of Binary-gender transgender was the same causation of non-binary transgender. Just as the Autism spectrum of neurology goes from mild to severe and includes Asbergers so to does the gender spectrum of neurology have diversity. So if there is a biological argument for Transgender rights the same argument covers all of Transgender without exceptions.

    I also gave the Cultural reason, which again requires all of Transgender to be covered as is our obligation under our responsibility to the Indiginous Cultural Rights of the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander population and our neighbour cultures from Tonga, Samoa and other parts of the pacific, members of who often have residency and citizenship in NSW. This alone is sufficient reason to reform the law.

    I have given the practical reason, that those who suffer the substantial discrimination and vilification and the consequential suicide risks mental health harm and violence deserve the protection. Again the same which effects ‘recognised transgender’ under the arbitrary line drawn in NSW law also effects the 99% of Transgender not protected under the law. Therefore they should all be protected.

    You keep focussing solely on crossdressers, you ignore that the whole time i have been also referring to other forms of Transgender like Genderqueer, the most common part of the Female to Male spectrum and the sufferers of substantial violence also. Looking at the Queensland stats http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/04/2918401.htm we can see that the Female to Male spectrum suffers significant violence with 45% having suffered assault.

    Those who are more gender-non-conformist are more visibly recognisable as Transgender and so will obviously suffer the most violence.

    The reasons we protect the 1% of Transgenders is what Acidic Muse? Their human right to Self Identification? Why the 99% should have that right also. Their Human Right to Gender Expression? the 99% should have that also. Their right to protection from vilification? the 99% are vilified equally or moreso, so they should also be protected. Their right to access to all services, to access businesses and public spaces and social life? Do i need to go through the entire list of International Human Rights? All applies equally to the 99% as the 1%. All the same rights applied to the tiny 1% of binary Transgender applies to the 99% of non-binary Transgender.

    And the Yogyakarta Principles say nothing about “full-time only” there’s a reason it often uses the word “diverse” such as “diverse sexual orientations and gender identities” and the definition of Gender Identity says nothing about binary-only “UNDERSTANDING ‘gender identity’ to refer to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms;” This was written thus for a reason, because accross the world including Indiginous peoples including amongst cultures present in our citizenry, there is diverse gender traditions, in some there are more than two strictly defined genders! The principles must relate to the gender diversity found throughout humanities diversity. Including those whose deeply felt internal and INDIVIDUAL experience of Gender is feelling BETWEEN Genders or includes BOTH Genders!

    Australias human rights obligations include to the diverse gender traditions of the Aboriginal Torres Strait and Pacific Island cultures, each with their own definitions and rules. Bi-Gender Identity and Intersex clearly needs to be covered for all the reasons that binary-gender identity and homosexuality and bisexuality are covered!

    You also fail to address that some Intersex people have a bi-gender identity. And the current legislation only gives them any protection at all if they are mistaken for a ‘recognised transgender’ person and none whatsoever for being discriminated against on the grounds of being Intersex!

    You have argued using harmful myths, known to be false, used by extreme-right conservative fanatics and bigots against all Transgender people, you have disregarded that the same biological, cultural, historical, practical reasons to protect any Transgender people requires that we protect Intersex people and requires we protect all Transgender people. By not giving a reason to protect the 1% of Transgender people, a reason which would need to be in every facet unrelated to the rest of Transgender, then all your attacks upon the rest of Transgender would if they had any basis in the first place apply to the 1% you support!

    Your baseless arguments do not stand up to simple scrutiny and you have avoided the majority of my points and apparently have no answer to them. They are no reasons that the Majority of Transgender people and Intersex people should remain discriminated against.

  • 38
    aidygoz
    Posted Sunday, 19 September 2010 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Soldiergrrl’s point is so pertinent! This ADF case is a breakthrough and we should be celebrating, not squabbling! Well done to all concerned. These matters, as Bayne points out, are all human rights issues. My feeling is that an inclusive approach will always be superior to a narrow approach in this area. Human rights belong to everyone. I do not want any right that is unavailable to all citizens. Equally I insist that all rights and benefits available to all citizens be extended to all gender rebels.

    No law is perfect. The 1996 NSW legislation was pretty radical in its day. It’s passage “broke the ice” and led to the enactment of similar legislation in other Australian jurisdictions. However, like any law it is flawed. Some of these flaws were for structural reasons - for example the way the NSW Act is structured made it difficult to outlaw discrimination on generic grounds. Other flaws are because of the reluctance of the Govt of the day to take any further political risks with this legislation than it felt it had to ie. a failure of political will. In some areas we didn’t get all we wanted, in others we got more than we wanted. There were some areas where we wanted far more radical approach but the Govt wasn’t prepared to come to the party. We did the best we could and we got the best package we could at the time. Such is politics.

    There is a real need for all transgender people (and I mean that in its widest possible sense) to put aside any differences and focus on securing positive outcomes for all of us. The NSW Act can be improved but that will only happen as a result of political action by us. My understanding is the incoming Federal Govt is about to review all anti-discrimination legislation and again, there is a real need for proper community representation in that process too. If that representation is successful, it will deliver enormous benefits for the community.

    If there is any way I can help I would be delighted to do so. Please contact me at: aidygoz@gmail.com.

    Again congratulations to all involved in the ADF breakthrough.

  • 39
    Bayne
    Posted Sunday, 19 September 2010 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    @Aidy “I do not want any right that is unavailable to all citizens. Equally I insist that all rights and benefits available to all citizens be extended to all….” This is a sentiment i have always held myself. A cornerstone of how Human Rights always have been meant to work.

    I have sent you an email and look forward to working with you and everyone else working on the federal antidiscrimination legislation (which people may like to know Galaxy polled adding Sexuality and Gender Identity to at having 85% support) and all other issues of ensuring equality and fairness for all Australians.

    And indeed congrats from me too to everyone who worked on the ADF breakthrough. I’ve heard Transgender and Intersex people are proportionally rather highly-represented in military service so this result will help them and the nation.

  • 40
    Soldiergrrl
    Posted Monday, 20 September 2010 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Thanks Aidy for acknowledging my point.
    My story will come out at some stage. At this point I can’t understand why the powers that be are trying to keep a lid on it. It is a positive move for our country and goes a long way towards removing stigmas associated with being trans.
    It is surprising that not that long ago people thought it was a big deal to allow women to work or vote, to accept that homosexuality or being from another part of the world is just another part of human diversity and now in what should be more modern times people are being silly about someone being trans. It isn’t rocket science really and it is something that is relatively easy to be resolved and allow people affected to get on with their lives. People will look back on this in the not too distant future and wonder what the big deal was, if you employ both males and females, then there is no reason to not employ trans or intersex people, there are no jobs within the military that are performed with your genitals, there are some jobs that are but they are private sector jobs!
    I’m disappointed that this has been an uphill battle for me for nearly 12 months now with Defence, when in reality it didn’t need to be. This could have been a positive workplace equity and diversity story right from the start. It’s not really even that revolutionary, all we are doing is following Canada, the UK and many other European countries, what makes this a big deal is that my treatment to date has been less than ideal to say the least and that I have had to stand up for myself and fight a big powerful organisation by myself just to try and be treated like a human when I shouldn’t have had to.

  • 41
    Bayne
    Posted Monday, 20 September 2010 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Soldiergrrl
    It is an importent question why this was something that had to be fought for. After all Galaxy polls on marriage equality and federal antidiscrimination have shown the majority of Australians of all walks of life are in favour of equality (85% in favour of the antidiscrimination one with 40% strongly in favour and only 4% strongly against with majority of coalition voters and labour and majority rural voters as well as urban all in favour! Few issues get that kind of accrosss-the-board majority support!) yet both major parties have ignored that and done their best to court the votes of the small minority oppossed to equality.

    Why that is, why the majority of Australians who support equality have been ignored and decisions made to favour a small minority (that 4% strongly against are after all a smaller number of people than the Transgender population of Australia!) is an important question the Australian people deserve the answer to.

    So why is the Government on behalf of 4% of Australians holding back the rights of over 6% of Australians against the wishes of 85% of Australians?

  • 42
    Acidic Muse
    Posted Monday, 20 September 2010 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    @Soldiergrrl

    On 6 May 2010, the federal Government announced a series
    of amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and are currently seeking submissions from stakeholders

    Right now, there is no commitment to include any form of transgender discrimination in those ammendments. Mostly because it is such a contentious issue in our more redneck states like Western Australia. I have no doubt the ADF’s decision to finally accomodate you has been been influenced by this process.

    Left unresolved, your case and others like it would have provided an extremely strong argument to why the kind of protection’s transgendered people have in New South Wales and Victoria should be be enshrined at the federal level. The ADF and the Federal Government most likely decided that this change in ADF policy should happen well below the radar because in the current political environment, it’s a public debate they would rather avoid

    In its submission to the federal government on these amendments, the New South Wales government has stated that it “considers is essential that any reforms to antidiscrimination law to promote consistency across jurisdictions do not operate to limit existing protections from discrimination, including those provided to transgender persons and carers under New South Wales legislation.

    (link posted with the hopeful indulgence of the Crikey Moderator)

    http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/legcon_ctte/sex_discrim/submissions/sub23.pdf

    This is where the current battle lines are firmly drawn - protecting existing rights hard-won in more progressive states over the past few decades , and trying to extend those rights and protections across the country.

    Over in Western Australia, in a case similar to Connor Montgomery’s, a State Administrative Tribunal decision which granted the transsexuals certificates recognising they had transitioned to the male gender has just been overturned in the Supreme Court.

    http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/7874364/sex-swap-battle-for-high-court/

    The transgendered men involved in this case had transitioned full time, had double mastectomies, testosterone treatment and are infertile, but have not had penis construction surgery (which is dangerous, costs 20/30K and is not performed in Australia) or hysterectomies. Yet another instance where transgendered people who have transitioned full-time to living in a new gender role are being denied the rights and protections taken for granted in more progressive legal jurisdictions across the world

    This is why I am so vehemently opposed to Baynes argument that we need to broaden the definition of who is considered Transgendered to include people who wish to claim to be either male or female on alternate days of the week.

    It has absolutely nothing to do with any desire to see people bashed or discriminated against in anyway, as Bayne has tried so desperately to portray

    It is about picking the right political battles, those we have a reasonable chance of winning and working for incremental change by focusing first on those in society whose need for legislative change is most pressing. In my estimation, that remains those transgendered people who live day to day in a gender for which they have no legal recognition at all and therefore find it difficult to hold down regular employment or get appropriate access to things like travel documents and healthcare

  • 43
    Bayne
    Posted Monday, 20 September 2010 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Acidic Muse, what is the current most progressive Australian Transgender legislation protections? Considering the concern not to have any hard-won victories in any States or Territiories rolled back to a lower standard it’s worth knowing what the best standards so-far achieved actually are.

    If your concern is only about achievable goals then i take it you withdraw the offensive references to ‘fetishism’ which vilifies myself, my partner and many of my friends (which includes some who are Intersex as well as Bi-Gender/gender non-conformist)?

    As for people’s day to day lives etc again you need to consider that non-binary people include the Genderqueer and some Intersex people not just Crossdressers. Bi-Gender people include the androgynous too. The troubles faced by Norrie May Welbe show that non-binary folk also have trouble with legal recognition etc. The unnecessary use of sex markers on documentation as identifiers (as i argued during the HREOC/AHRC community consultation) and the visual assessment of a persons gender expression to verify it interferes with the accessing of essential services and due process of all people who are gender non-conforming or who are perceived as such.

    And the suggestion that people could just hide their Transgender nature if Bi-Gender in order to avoid discrimination has been rubbished in Human Rights Circles when used about Sexuality, that people can hide, lie, pretend to be heterosexual is insufficient when their human rights are to equally participate openly in public life and cultural life. Principles 25 and 26 Yogyakarta Principles. So there is a clear human rights case for Bi-Gender peoples rights to not have to hide their Bi-Gender Identity and Expression in order to obtain their basic civil and political and basic human rights.

    And doesn’t my point remain that there is a usable excuse for discriminating against ‘recognised’ Transgender people here that they were perceived to be unrecognised Transgender? In which case adding Gender Expression to Gender Identity would solve the problem for all Transgender wouldn’t it?

    Regarding the WA case, despite them being infertile through hormone treatments it’s been the potential capacity to carry children thats been repeatedly stated by those in the government oppossed to it being a case of coercive sterilisation, the Australian Transgender genetic discovery makes the WA policy potentially one of Genocide or Eugenics as it requires a person to give up their reproductive rights in order to obtain basic human rights which are suppossed to be universal based on an inherited and inheritable characteristic. In fact with the capacity to store reproductive material for later use becoming more accessible the reproductive rights of Transgender people has been increasingly an issue in many countries even after physical sterility has occured! Yet reproductive rights are also basic human rights.

  • 44
    exsoldrgrl
    Posted Monday, 20 September 2010 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    As someone who was “Fired” from the ADF this decade I am not surprised it has taken this long. The minute I accepted who I was I was shown the policy and the door. I did not know that I could have fought it and to be honest was not exactly emotionally able to comprehend much at all. I was led to believe it was cut and dry. Soldiergrrl has opened the door and today i put my foot back in, in an attempt to help to keep it open. “Watch this space”.

  • 45
    Acidic Muse
    Posted Monday, 20 September 2010 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    @Bayne

    Oh great, now you want the rest of society to remove sex markers on all documentation so you and a tiny minority of gender subversives don’t have to feel “vilified” by the onerous impost of having to choose, even just for purely administrative purposes, one of the genders that make up your so called “bi-gender”

    Oh brother!!!

    I’ve known Norrie May for about 20 years and worked with her on a range of projects before she embarked on her wondrous journey into radical pansexualism. Whilst I respect her intellect, she’s someone for whom identity politics has become a fetish par excellence.

    Individuals are free to make their own lives as complicated as they so choose, but it’s outrageously self absorbed to expect the rest of society to do cultural cartwheels in order to accommodate them

    There is currently nothing stopping transgendered people from storing genetic material for later reproduction if they so choose - you simply have to pay for it. The idea that anyone choosing to alter their body functions as part of a gender transition should have this paid for by tax payers as some basic human right is frankly patently asburd

    Squealing about Genocide or Eugenics certainly does nothing to strengthen your arguments

  • 46
    aidygoz
    Posted Monday, 20 September 2010 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    @Soldiergrrl

    Well done for standing up for your rights! It’s a shame that you were unable to avail yourself of the support available in your struggle. And I do agree it is sad that the mainstream media has ignored this issue - it has important consequences.

    If you need any assistance regarding support I can help point you in the right direction.

    If you would like to tell your story i may be able to help there too. I have had a lot of media experience over the years and often it can be as simple as knowing the right person in the media to approach to have your story told sympathetically.

    Please contact me at either aidygoz@gmail.com or under my name at Facebook if you feel i can be of assistance to you. Once again well done.

  • 47
    Bayne
    Posted Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    @ Acidic Muse, what are the practical societal beneficial uses of Sex Markers on Documents? How are they tested for when presented? What actual harm would come from their removal? The HREOC/AHRC reccomendation was that a third catagory be added for Intersex but surely it’s easier more efficient and better to just junk them off most documents?

    As for ‘tiny minority’ we are talking about more than 99 people for every one ‘recognised transgender’. Beyond the fact that human rights extend down to a minority even of just one person if we take the lower 3% number from the USA it’s about the same number of people that consider themselves Gay or Lesbian (2-3%) and larger than Aboriginal (2.7%) yet the UK number is 6%. And over 1% of people are Intersex who are not adequately dealt with by current legislation either. Now unless you have better figures then it’s safe to say that as minorities go this is far from ‘tiny’.

    Of course society is suppossed to accomodate everyone within it, that’s what society is for, to serve all the people that form it. What do you think we should do just ignore that 1 in 60 people are biologicly Intersex? Do nothing about the surgical abuses done to far too many as infants?

    The point about stored material was that in places in America and Europe there had been calls to prevent people from having their sex legally recognised while such material still existed. And in the WA case comments from the government were specifically about the fear of the possibility the men could reproduce.

    I wasn’t ‘squeelling’. The word ‘potentially’ was used for a reason. Coerced sterilisation has been historicly labelled Genocide and Eugenics. Even when the practice was not necessarily based on race (such as the sterilisation of single mothers). This is clearly coerced sterilisation. Of people carrying an inheritable genetic characteristic going by the current Transgender Gene studies.

  • 48
    Bayne
    Posted Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    @Exsoldrgrl Good Luck!

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