How Australia Failed The Trans Community During The Election

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

The articles, studies, opinion pieces, and political games around trans women competing in women’s sports have been endless.

Especially during the lead up to the recent federal election, where it was used as a topic to try and fuel a political cultural war to the detriment of the Australian trans community.

But unfortunately this conversation has been brewing for much longer. 

Why Did The Election Feature This Brand Of Transphobia?

We spoke to trans advocate and Junkee writer Jackie Turner about this broader brand of transphobia that seemed to dominate the election discourse during this year’s Federal election.

For Jackie, the biggest secret that wasn’t talked about in the campaign was that the election transphobia is part of a global attack.

“I have been watching and researching the attacks on trans communities in the UK and the US since about early last year. What we know about Australia is that this is a coordinated attack… to malign and attack the trans community and actually seek to exclude us from public life.”

Jackie’s written about this brand of American and British transphobia before. It’s involved feminist groups teaming up with conservative right-wing organisations to execute a campaign that “attacks the trans community as a way to get to the broader LGBT community”.

Trans athlete Kirsti Brooke Miller felt the brunt of the attacks levelled at the trans community, especially around their participation in women’s sports.

“It’s never been harder to be a trans woman until the federal election. Now I just feel like it’s been a tidal wave tsunami of change has just happened in Australia,” they told Junkee.

“And I’m so, so impressed with the amount of people in the media and the general public and sporting bodies that we didn’t go down the path of Trump and Johnson in the UK. ”

Why Are Politicians Even Weighing In On it?

Jackie pointed out that most of the people commenting on the idea of trans athletes aren’t actually involved in women’s sports in the first place.

“The people who have been speaking up from sporting bodies are people who are actually spearheading inclusion initiatives and are actually doing the work in their communities and they don’t seem to have a problem. It’s these outside commentators that seem to have an issue.

We know that also local clubs are leaning in the direction of being far more inclusive. Many of them are participating in programs which show that the clubs are inclusive.

They want to have more inclusive language, they want to include players from different backgrounds and different orientation and gender identities.”

What Australia Should Be Doing For Trans Advocacy Now

Sport is an important part of being an active part of the community, and being able to join teams without the fear of exclusion is a privilege. Being able to join various social leagues as a fun way to exercise and stay connected with friends is something I’ve personally taken for granted.

And Kirsti pointed out that the inclusion of trans athletes in sports was actually solved years ago.

“It should be left to sporting bodies and sporting groups, not politicians that know nothing about it.

“Sport is even more important for people like me because we’ve got a lot of health issues taking the medication we need and we need health and exercise. It’s far more than medals, far more than awards. You know, it’s essentially about life. It’s who we are.”

“Community sport is so much about inclusion. It’s about being a part of your community. It’s about being able to improve your physical and mental health,” added Jackie.

“To deny trans people the ability to find a team that they feel are at home on is really appalling.

“I’m really hopeful after the result on Saturday. I think what we saw was a real rejection of transphobic politics and a rejection of the kind of politics of misinformation. So I am looking forward to regrouping with many of the advocates that I work with and thinking about what’s next and how we heal the damage that’s been done.”