On Saturday the 27th of March, a crowd of roughly 400 protestors gathered at 2 PM outside the Newtown Hub to continue the fight for trans liberation post-Mardi Gras. A conglomerate of community organisations including Pride in Protest, Trans Pride Australia, Community Action for Rainbow Rights, Trans-Action Warrang and Scarlet Alliance worked together to organise the event – a Trans Day of Visibility rally.
Greens MP Jenny Leong, the first speaker, expressed solidarity with First Nations communities. “It is an absolute disgrace that in recent times we have seen four more Aboriginal deaths in custody.” Pointing out that trans women of colour are disproportionately subject to violence, Leong criticised trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs), asserting “you are not our friends.” She continued, “There is no silencing this community… we are not going anywhere”.
Mish Pony, from Scarlet Alliance, emphasised the importance of decriminalising sex work, stating that “trans sex workers are at the flash points of moral panics”.
Genevieve Doyle, from Trans Pride Australia, spoke on birth certificate reform and the high financial cost of gender reassignment surgery.
Referencing Mark Latham’s “Parental Rights” bill, April Holcombe, from Community Action for Rainbow Rights, suggested that trans communities “face the biggest legislative attacks on our community in decades”. The bill threatens the safety of gender diverse kids by denying their existence and prohibiting their education on trans issues. It also puts teachers and school counsellors at risk of losing their jobs if they support and affirm the identity of a trans or gender diverse student. Holcombe pointed out that the NSW Liberal Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Kevin Conolly, recently expressed support for Latham’s bill (“this is no fringe view”) and called for support for the April 17 “Kill the bill” rally.
Mikhael Burnard, from Pride in Protest, MC for the rally, closed the speeches by picking up on a common theme: “We keep ourselves safe.”
Trans flags, rainbow-decorated signs and slogan-laden placards galore, the crowd then took the road and marched down King Street to Victoria Park, chanting the whole way.
“Mark Latham, fuck you, we deserve a future too!”
“Bottoms and tops, we all hate cops!”
No arrests were made and police did not brutalise protestors, in contrast to a trans right rally in October last year.
The rally comes days after news broke that a man convicted of manslaughter – for choking and killing Mhelody Bruno, a Filipino transwoman, during sex – had avoided prison due to a sentencing error, sparking outcry among trans activists. The man, a former RAAF corporal, will now be re-sentenced on 29 March.National watchdogs and reports suggest that trans violence has increased in many neoliberal democracies in recent years. Since the Human Rights Campaign, the largest queer advocacy organisation in the US, began logging data on violence against gender non-conforming Americans in 2013, the organisation has reportedly never recorded a year with higher fatal violence than 2020. While data on violence against trans bodies is notoriously difficult to collate, due to underreporting, crime data being recorded in gender binaries and a failure of bureaucracy, one survey published in June last year suggests that trans women of colour in Australia particularly vulnerable to abuse. They were more likely than other women to report having been assaulted by a stranger. They were also twice as likely as other women to be sexually assaulted 10 or more times.