Transgender Awareness Week 2021

Today Abigail spoke on Transgender Awareness Week, emphasising the important and valuable role that transgender people play in our society and in smashing the patriarchy. 

Abigail said:

Transgender people are at the forefront of the battle to unpick gender norms, playing a critical role in the struggle to smash the patriarchy. The term "patriarchy" can be misunderstood, perhaps deliberately by many on the right. Patriarchy is a system of society in which men hold the primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property. Patriarchal ideology acts to explain and justify this dominance and attributes it to inherent differences between men and women. Our patriarchal society has long held men up as the norm and women as the exception. Smashing the patriarchy is not about bringing down men; it is about discarding the gender norms that support men's power in our society.

It is absolutely true to say that we have come a long way in the last 100 years to provide more opportunities for women and to share at least some of the power traditionally held by men with women. But it has come largely without shifting society's overall focus on men as the norm. Masculinity continues to be closely associated with authority, superiority and power. In terms of feminist progress over the decades, we have reached a slow point, bogged down in this battle to dismantle gender norms. It is made all the slower by the fact that not only people on the right but also, more disappointingly, people on the left want to hold onto the myth of the biologically determined binary and sex‑based politics that exclude our transgender allies. Equality for women does not mean allowing women to act like men. It means allowing everyone to live within our own skins, and to be as masculine or feminine as we choose, when we choose.

Cisgender women must stand side by side with transgender people in that struggle to break down gender norms to allow all of us to freely be who we want to be, to rebuild our society in an inclusive and accepting way that lets all of us thrive, not just those who live up to outdated masculine ideals. Transgender Awareness Week celebrates the incredible contributions that transgender people make to our society. It also highlights the disproportionate and widespread stigma, discrimination, violence and other barriers to society that transgender people face. Today I celebrate the crucial role that unapologetic trans visibility plays in dismantling the gendered oppression of everyone.

Transgender people face hate speech and prejudice from all sides. They are some of the most vulnerable people in our community, and are at high risk of suicide, self‑harm, bullying and murder. They need our support. I am not going to convince the right‑wing politicians in this place, or those engaged in gawking at grotesque Murdoch media stories, so I will focus instead on the so‑called progressives. This Transgender Awareness Week, I say to them specifically: You cannot be a feminist and be an anti‑trans activist. You cannot be a progressive while ignoring scientific facts and persisting with binary and sex‑based politics. You cannot dismantle your own oppression by entrenching fictitious ideas of what it means to be a woman. Trans liberation is women's liberation, is queer liberation, is everyone's liberation.

 

The full transcript can be found in Hansard, here.

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