By Killian MacDonald
Have you ever heard the term ‘adult human female’? This wonderful use of the English language is a phrase coined by anti-transgender rights activist Kellie-Jay Keen, in her attempt to define what a ‘real woman’ is.
Keen, also known as Posie Parker (isn’t it sweet she has a chosen name?), has actively opposed trans people being able to legally self-identify gender, use the correct public restrooms, and join the correct sports teams, as well as attacking the art of drag and the use of hormone blockers and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for minors. The home page of her organisation, Standing for Women, proudly announces that 2023 is ‘Year of the TERF’. She is not hiding, and so neither can we.
This Sunday, Keen is holding a far-right rally in Reddacliff Place at 12pm, so this is our call to action: if you care about the future of all trans and queer people in this country, turn up. Equal Love Brisbane is holding a counter protest in King George Square at 11am. Equal Love has organised protests fighting last years’ religious discrimination bill, the Citipointe College debacle, rising threats on abortion rights, and were a loud and local voice in the fight for marriage equality.
The true danger of anti-trans rhetoric is it is about the eradication of trans people. When they say we are a danger in single sex spaces, or to children, or to the family structure as they know it, what they are saying is they do not want us to exist in public. Being trans is fine, as long as you’re not trans in a public bathroom, or a school, or a library, or on TV, or wanting to get married, or get your license. They want us afraid. They want us invisible. They want us dead.
The group sponsoring Keen’s current tour, Binary Australia, has itself transitioned from Marriage Alliance, a name we may all be familiar from our time fighting for marriage equality. They have simply regrouped, rebranded, and found a new way to stir fear and hatred under the guise of protecting family structures, women, and religion.
A local group, IWD (International Women’s Day) Brisbane/Meanjin, uses protest and feminist language to attack trans people and regularly hold protests in the city, the most recent one being against the right to legally self-identify one’s gender in Queensland without gender reassignment surgery (which, while the legislation has finally been introduced, has not yet been passed). It would be remiss to not bring attention to the large amount of their vitriol which is aimed at trans feminine people, with much of their protests being levelled towards the fictional anxiety of trans feminine people preying on women in ‘women-only spaces’ such as domestic violence shelters, lesbian spaces, and women’s public bathrooms. I, as a trans man, am not exactly their favourite type of person, but within TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) rhetoric I am a disillusioned girl needing to be saved. My trans feminine sisters and siblings are a threat needing to be dealt with. I believe steadfastly that hope is the correct response to the human condition, but to hear this type of threatening language sends me down that well-worn descent of rage and grief which so many queer and trans folk know so well.
We have seen the rise of trans-exclusionary radical feminism in online spaces, in Keen’s home turf of the United Kingdom, the United States, and even begin to get its claws into Aotearoa. We must fight the foothold they are scrambling to gain here.
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It’s also so important to remember they’re absolutely a minority. We say they’ve taken over England or America and that’s what they want us to think. I’m English-born originally, my family is all over the UK and when I came out to them, I was so very scared about the chance of any of them rejecting me because of the anti-trans ideology coming from the UK. And instead, I got unending love and support. Immediately, messages with my correct name came through. And at Christmas, my Scottish Catholic, bell-ringing grandmother sent me a card under my correct name. They want us to think that they have won in the UK but they simply haven’t, they’re just loud and despicable and that’s all you see, and all the media focuses on. —June Dunning, 25.
At the end of the day, I am tired. The leftist agenda Keen is so afraid of is me being able to give my neighbours my real name; is my friend being able to get their surgery after waiting for five years. It’s not taking my pronouns pins off when I get the RACQ guy to jump start my car. It’s my siblings having less public transport panic attacks; it’s not having to worry if I’ll see a small, yet loud, and very, very angry group of people in front of city hall.
It’s finding community elders and living long enough to become elders ourselves.
That is what Keen is afraid of, what the women in IWD Meanjin are afraid of. Us, flourishing. Us, being visible. There is no middle ground with people like Kellie-Jay Keen. Remember: afraid, invisible, and dead.
With this Sunday being a counter protest, I must advise safety and caution, and prioritisation of your own wellbeing. I do not want anyone to underestimate the people who almost certainly will be attending Keen’s rally. With her ties to far-right groups, you never know who will come out of the sewers to listen to her talk. All of the normal advisements for protests apply: sun protection, water, and good footwear are a must; ear plugs can give you that bit of respite from the noise; and don’t be afraid to bring a friend and a face covering for safety. Plan a way to get there and home safely, protect each other, and come ready to yell.
This Sunday, at 11am in King George Square, we will be holding our ground. I can only ask that you do, too. Kellie-Jay Keen is not welcome here, and someone needs to tell her.