Trans Day of Visibility is an annual international celebration of trans awareness and pride.
On 31 March 2021 we celebrate with trans and gender diverse people across Australia by sharing stories, starting conversations, and attending events. The following is a message from the QUT Guild’s Queer Officer Amy Sargeant and members of the QUT Guild Queer Collective.
Things are hard for trans people. In recent years, normalised violent discourse and the rise of TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) ideology in queer and women’s spaces has wound the clock back on trans liberation. Today, more trans people are opting to keep their identity a secret at work than they were five years ago. Our own state of Queensland is the lowest ranked in the country for recognition and protection of trans people, and our allegedly progressive state government has shown no interest in changing this.
Beyond the direct repercussions of this discrimination, I feel great frustration over the time and emotional labour spent addressing the insidious provocations of TERFs and uneducated political figures. These people don’t care about scientific reality or our humanity. And so they are happy to waste our time on menial debates, when we could be engaging with queer concepts far more compelling. That is what the trans experience truly is – euphoric, joyous, cosmic.
So how can we move beyond the tedium of “gender critical” discourse, and on to something more? I spoke to trans representatives and students at our university:
Amanda Hubert (QUT Guild Queer Collective Secretary):
“By making the world safe for trans people. Be kind and affirming to the trans people in your life, and that you meet on the street. When someone is attacking trans people online or making hateful comments in a class, stand up to them. If you see a trans person being misgendered, step up and correct them. If you see someone being harassed, you can’t just sit there and be a bystander. Even going up and checking if they are okay can make a world of difference. Use the privilege you have to help take down hate, and show the wonderful trans people in your life they are loved, accepted and safe around you.”
QUT Guild Queer Collective Convenor:
“You can empower us by taking a moment to remember that we’re just people. There’s no need to stare at us or to ask us inappropriate questions about our bodies. If you’re fascinated and want to know something about the trans experience, try googling it first. Don’t just ask any old stranger who’s trans to tell you the answer. More than anything else, though, it’s safe to assume that we know ourselves. We’re not mistaken, or trying to push an agenda. We’re well aware that most of the people we know aren’t trans. But we’re here, we exist, and if you only ever empower the trans people in your life one way, make that way truly understanding that gender isn’t a choice, for you or for us. It’s just one of the many wild and diverse experiences and upbringings people may have, and nobody’s experiences are universal.”
Dawn (QUT Queer Collective Member):
“I think the biggest way we can empower trans people is by recognising that gender diversity is as much personal as it is cultural, as much intersectional as it is individual, and that every day we survive is a victory in itself. As someone who came to their understanding of being trans and non-binary in their late thirties, I acknowledge that my Indigeneity, my neurodivergence, my disabilities and my life experience have shaped the person I am now. I am queer, I am here, and I am living proof that trans people can survive – can thrive – into their forties and beyond.”
All of us need to mobilise in all spaces toward trans liberation. There is no room for sitting out, and no time to wait. We all have to be active participants.
In 2021, the QUT Guild initiated our first queer-centric support group: Home. Home is a support network for young trans and gender diverse students, run in collaboration with our QUT counselling services and QUT Guild Queer Collective. We are gearing up for our first in-person meetup, to be announced soon! All are welcome.
Want to learn more on this topic? Recommended further reading: PFLAG’s publication Our Trans Loved Ones – Questions and Answers for Families and Friends of Trans Individuals
Amy Sargeant is a Meanjin (Brisbane) based activist, artist, and musician. She is the National Convenor of the NTEU’s Queer caucus and the former QUT Guild Queer Officer.
Through installations of sculpture, audio, and video Amy’s work responds to her disillusionment with the dysfunctions of the Australian political establishment by reframing the elements of political spectacle.
You can find Amy at https://amysargeant.art, or on Twitter at @amy_sargeant_