News //

Protesters gather in Newtown for Trans Rights

“It is in the strength of our community in being here today that we can show that trans rights, trans visibility and trans pride is the popular politics.”

Photography by Jamie Paige Bridge.

Today, approximately 3000 protesters gathered at Pride Square, formerly Newtown Hub, for the Trans Day of Visibility Rally. The action followed similar rallies in Melbourne and Brisbane, which attracted 3000 and 1000 people respectively.

The protest was organised by members of Pride in Protest and attended by contingents from Unions NSW, the United Workers Union, Dykes on Bikes, the Maritime Union of Australia, the Australian Services Union, the National Tertiary Education Union, Rail, Tram, and Bus Union, and the USyd Womens’ Collective. 

Protesters took to the road at 1 pm and occupied the road for the length of the speeches. Activists donned transgender and other pride flags as well as pride-related clothing and accessories, and the trans flag flew above Newtown Town Hall.

Mikhael Burnard, from Pride in Protest, chaired the event, and Nadeena Dixon, a Wiradjuri, Yuin and Gadigal woman performed the Welcome to Country. “We stand in the wake of the State Election when no major party committed to change or real support for the Queer community,” said Mikhael.

Ethan Lyons, a Wiradjuri activist with School Strike for Climate, noted the presence of gender nonconformity in the history of Indigenous peoples across the world: “anyone who threatens queer or trans people is not welcome here.”

Lyons also spoke to the struggle of queer youth saying, “queer students aged sixteen to seventeen…are five times more likely to have attempted suicide in their lifetime than their straight counterparts.”

Jenny Leong, Greens member for Newtown, spoke next saying, “our agenda is one of equality, our agenda is one of Pride…We are united on taking to the streets and saying this is what we demand.” 

In response to Mark Latham, who called for “reasonable” behaviour, Leong said, “We are done with being reasonable, we are taking to the streets…and we are standing stronger than ever, ever before.”

Liz Atkins, a Greens Inner West Councillor, joined her and proclaimed, “I am committed to making sure that our whole local government area is a safe place.” Atkins mentioned a “Pride Centre” planned to be established in Newtown Town Hall next year amongst other planned measures.

Leong also denounced religious discrimination laws as “an agenda to undermine the rights of LGBTQIA+ people.”

Wei Thai-Haynes, a sex worker and trans activist, said on the issue, “the Labor government has decided to forge on with the religious discrimination bill, they have made no commitment to us but they have committed to advancing the interests of the religious right.”

Addressing the crowd, Thai-Haynes said, “It is in the strength of our community in being here today that we can show that trans rights, trans visibility and trans pride is the popular politics.” 

Norrie May Welby, who won a 2014 High Court case recognising the right to be identified as being of “non-specific” sex on one’s birth certificate in NSW, urged the need for self-identification for trans people. 

Sophie Cotton, a member of the NTEU USyd Branch Committee, gave a shout out to the Palm Sunday rally occurring at 2pm today leading a chant, “We’re here, we’re queer, refugees are welcome here!” 

“We are not gonna sit silent and wait for the next idiot TERF to fly over from the UK…We need to fight the state sanctioned bigotry that we are subject to every day. This state sanctioned transphobia has to go and we’re gonna keep fighting until it’s gone,” said Cotton.

Following the speeches, protestors marched down King Street to Victoria Park, chanting for trans rights and dispersing shortly after. Despite the rain, the march could be seen stretching across a large swath of the street and energy remained high as protesters chanted “we’ll be back” in the park.

Filed under: