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Trans rights protestors take over Newtown streets

The Trans Day of Resistance Rally proceeded peacefully but passionately.

Photograph courtesy: Robbie Mason.

Around 300 protestors congregated in front of the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre today to fight for trans rights and an end to systemic violence against trans communities. The event, a Trans Day of Resistance Rally organised by Pride in Protest and Trans Action Warrang-Sydney, comes at the end of Transgender Awareness Week. Co-chaired by Hannah Joy Gillard and Amber Loomis, speakers included Keith Quayle, April Holcombe from Community Action for Rainbow Rights and Charlie Murphy from Pride in Protest.

Keith Quayle opened the protest, expressing solidarity with trans communities and reminding those present that “transgender people have been around since the beginning of time”. As a gay, Aboriginal man, formely incarcerated, Quayle stated that non-cisgendered prisoners were particularly vulnerable to discrimination and violence. 

The speakers placed particular emphasis on the links between sex worker rights and trans rights. Quayle explained that “sex work is the one of the only professions where you are wanted and desired as a trans person.” Charlie Murphy, who spoke third, demanded the decriminalisation of sex work and an end to borders and asserted that sex workers should unionise in their workplaces for fair-paying working conditions. 

April Holcombe gave a rousing speech, acknowledging the role trans rights rallies had played in overturning the state government ban on protests during the COVID-19 crisis. Holcombe condemned the behaviour of Australian SAS troops in Afghanistan, asserting that there is “an international enemy” and “an international system” of oppression and that activists must stand “against war and against the capitalist system”. 

Speakers took aim at the Education Legislation Amendment Bill (Parental Rights) 2020 put forward by Mark Latham, which threatens the safety of gender diverse kids by denying their existence and prohibiting the education of children on trans issues. It also puts teachers and school counsellors at risk of losing their job if they support and affirm the identity of a trans or gender diverse student.

Protestors then took the road and marched down King Street to Victoria Park, chanting the whole way. “When trans lives are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” “No cops, no prisons, total abolition”.

Photograph courtesy: Robbie Mason.

There was a relatively small police presence compared to those rallies in recent months which went ahead despite the ban on outdoor gatherings of more than twenty people – a ban only recently amended to make exception for 500 person protests. Roughly twenty officers and a couple of mounted police attended. The rally was peaceful throughout. No arrests were made and police did not brutalise protestors, in contrast to a trans right rally in October

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