In 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from the Classification of Diseases. Today, 17 May is observed by millions across the globe every year as the International Day Against LGBTQIA+ Discrimination (IDAHOBIT).
For me, IDAHOBIT is in part a celebration of the strides LGBTQIA+ people have made in the face of the oppression we face. But more importantly, it is a call to action – to ensure this progress, and our human rights, remain protected and upheld.
Everyone deserves the freedom to be themselves – to feel safe in their communities, be protected from discrimination and harassment, and to have the same opportunity to build good lives.
Right now, trans lives are under attack
We live in a climate where rampant transphobia is sweeping the globe.
In the US, hundreds of bills have been introduced this year to erode the human rights of trans people – blocking access to healthcare, education, legal recognition and the right to publicly exist.
Similarly, the UK is becoming increasingly unsafe for trans people with the systematic destruction of institutions and services that support the trans community, and the shockingly rapid increase in anti-trans hate crimes which rose by 81% in 2019.
And now, many of these anti-trans groups are trying to establish themselves in Australia.
Anti-trans lobby in Australia
In the last few months, we’ve seen a huge rise in anti-trans rhetoric across the country – fuelling hate, and trying to wind back hard fought progress.
The anti-trans lobby wants to intimidate trans people into disappearance. They’ve never been more organised – which means it has never been more important for us to stand with the community, and fight back.
The good news is that those who stand against this hate, make up the majority – 78% of Australians agree that trans people deserve the same rights and protections as other Australians.
We have an opportunity to step up and show Australia that we are bigger, stronger, more powerful and have far more love than any movement of hate.
How you can help
There are many things we can do, as a country and as individuals, to push back against the anti-trans lobby and stop the campaign before it gets out of control. Here are five:
1. Support the Trans Justice Project
The Trans Justice Project is a trans-led organisation founded by campaigner and organiser Jackie Turner (she/her), whose mission is to push back against the anti-trans lobby, and build a powerful movement standing up for justice, freedom, and equality for all trans and gender diverse people.
2. Educate yourself about the issues trans people face
Disinformation is a key strategy of the anti-trans lobby – it preys on people’s lack of knowledge of trans and gender diverse people, and fuels anti-trans legislation and violence. One of the best ways we can fight back against transphobia is by having a better understanding of the issues trans people face.
Start with Trans Hub’s ‘Trans 101’ page.
3. Keep learning about the anti-trans lobby
It is crucial to understand that the wave of attacks on trans people and escalation in transphobia is not an accident. It is the result of an organised anti-trans lobby who are intentionally weaponizing and fuelling anti-trans hate, for their own social and political goals.
4. Be brave and have conversations
Many LGBTQIA+ people are exhausted. We are tired of defending ourselves and our community from endless debates about our rights and existence. Every conversation takes its toll, and we need allies to help us do the heavy lifting when it comes to educating others.
Allies can do this by amplifying the voices of trans and gender diverse people through social media, actively challenging transphobia or disinformation about trans people when you hear it, and having conversations with loved ones about trans justice.
These conversations can be scary, but remember to stay calm and respectful – if someone is defensive, they won’t listen. This guide from Minus18 has some great advice to help you get started.
5. Fight for policies that support and protect the trans community
We need to strengthen our laws and advocate for policies that protect and support trans and gender diverse people.
This includes improving access to health care, strengthening protections against discrimination, hate speech and vilification, ending conversion practises that seek to change or suppress a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation, and committing resources to address the disproportionate rates of homelessness, poverty and poor mental health outcomes in the trans and gender diverse community.
Learn more about what the Australian Government can do to protect the trans community, and how you can take action.
Lucy Kenny (she/they) is a campaigner for Amnesty International Australia.