Wednesday, 11 May 2011

A Personal First

I attended my first demonstration today, outside of Parliament House. OK, it was a Rally, but close enough. A group of people agitating as a group for political change.

I'll quote from the Press Release :
History will be made in Canberra on Wednesday, when Australia’s ISGD communities hold their first ever rally for equal rights.

Intersex, Sex and/or Gender Diverse people (ISGD) are groups of people who may be intersex, transexed, transsexual, transgendered, genderqueer, cross-dressers, androgynous, without sex and/or gender identity, and people with sex and/or gender culturally specific differences.

The rally – to be held at 1pm this Wednesday on the Parliament Lawn, Parliament House, Canberra – will mark the first time ISGD people have staged their own independent rally to call for equal treatment under the law.

Buses carrying campaigners are coming from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to the rally, which has received the personal support and endorsement of CLOVER MOORE MP, Independent Member for Sydney; WARREN ENTSCH, Federal MP and Chief Opposition Whip; and SARAH HANSON-YOUNG, Australian Greens Senator.

TRACIE O’KEEFE, member of Still Fierce: Sydney Intersex Sex and/or Gender Diverse collective, which is organising the rally, said the protest was a response to various inequalities and injustices faced by ISGD people in Australia.

“Unquestionably, all ISGD groups of people in Australia are legally marginalised in every state in many ways,” she said.

“Many people cannot get their birth records or documents changed to the correct sex when it has been incorrectly stated or they have changed their sex status.

“Others whose sex and/or gender may be other than strictly male or female are unable to have identity documents that reflect their true identities.”

O’Keefe said the discrimination against ISGD people included serious instances of child abuse and denial of medical treatment.

“The practice of unwanted surgeries on intersex children without their permission to ‘normalise’ their genitalia is sanctioned under the sinister veil of enforcing normality, instead of being seen as child abuse,” she said.

“Many sex and/or gender diverse young people who want medical treatment are denied it unless they are intimidated into going through the court system to gain legal permission.

“Meanwhile, full Medicare and pharmaceutical benefits for those ISGD people who cannot afford treatment is still only a pipe dream. They are discriminated against in comparison to people who seek other health needs from Medicare.”

O’Keefe said that in addition to Wednesday’s rally, a list of demands (available on the Still Fierce website) would be handed to Federal MPs.
I'm as fierce as a guinea-pig. I'm straight, and staid, and prim, and priggish, and not at all like the genderqueer, the gender outlaws, the gender rebels, the trans sex workers, and all the rest of the diverse mob.

I'm not worthy of them.

I haven't suffered remotely as much as most of them. I didn't have the courage to be myself, I had to be forced into it by a peculiar endocrinal disorder. I've had middle-class white privilege, and for much of my life, male cis-sexual privilege too.

What do I have in common with them? I'm one of them. I'm human. I'm now being me. I'm now subject to hatred and bigotry and all the rest.

What do I have that makes me different? Power, if only because I'm erudite, a good speaker, and have an influential blog. Education. Confidence, and an Ego as big as all outdoors, proof against any attempt to humiliate me, because in extremis the only person whose opinion really matters to me is my own. Not much money, but way more than most. Objectively below the poverty line (just), but comparatively, with wealth untold.

To those who have been given much, much is expected. So I went well outside my comfort zone, even voluntarily took a mike in my hand as an unscheduled speaker and addressed the crowd, telling them that in the ACT at least, things were happening, wheels were in motion, and people like them had already made a difference. That this battle is winnable. That there is not just hope, but reason to believe that reform will come, and soon. That they should redouble their efforts now they're starting to win. "Energising the Base". What I said was just the truth though.

This is so not me. I mean, I'm Right Wing. The word "Collective" gives me the screaming meemies.

But I just can't stand by, not when I can help, not when I'm in a position to do something, however small, to correct injustice. Some of them had travelled a thousand miles and more by bus to get there. I just nipped over in my car after giving a lecture at the ANU nearby. Not exactly a great sacrifice for The Cause, was it?


Chris Phoenix said...

Why does "Right Wing" mean you shouldn't do political demonstrations?

I'm American. Here, Right Wing seems to mean "Follows the Republican and/or Tea Party propaganda; outraged at anyone trying to take advantage of you, especially for social justice, but not including big business, who you want to deregulate; want to de-fund government by reducing the taxes on rich people. Somehow I don't think this is your politics.

(A similarly jaded description of American Left Wing might be: Willing to preserve institutionalized theft by any group large enough to have a lobby. Willing to let said groups indulge in all sorts of society-damaging behaviors, such as illegal immigration, taking drugs, and gay marriage. Note: that's the jaded description from the right-wing point of view; I personally don't agree with the "society-damaging" paranoia.)

Anonymous said...

You don't at all need to be radical to stand up for human rights and enfranchisement. I wish that perception would go the way of the dodo.

That said, positive change won't happen if everyone hides away and behaves. Good on you for realizing that and being part of the change.

Zimbel said...

Thank you.

It will be less scary the next time you do it.

Jenny said...

You've just described exactly why you are doing the right thing.

Our detractors would love to paint those who speak for our community as coming from the extremes of society and politics, not worth taking notice of by People Like Them.

The more of us who turn out to be People Like Them, the less they can ignore us.

TraumaPony said...

Awww man, I *so* should have gone. Three friends went, and now I find out you went too? ):

Stupid assignments >.<

Anonymous said...

When you showed up a bunch of us were very surprised and excited. "Is that Zoe Brain?" "I think it is!" "OMG Zoe Brain is here!" I kid you not. And i say that not (just) to swell your head but to show that what you have done online and on tv has already had a significant positive impact on the community. It was great to finally meet you in person and your speech did hit an important chord. Ideally i think human rights, equality and perpetual vigilance in ensuring fairness and justice would be both right-wing, left-wing, conservative and liberal values.. though too often they are the first casualties of any ideology. Well regardless of political philosophy you did the right thing, the ethical and moral thing. And regardless of any advantages or disadvantages (for being better positioned to see a bad truth because you are a victim of it is in its way an advantage in awareness at least) you showed yourself able and willing to do what needs doing, which should be something we expect of everyone but which is rare enough to be considered a noble virtue. Thanks Zoe!


Dawn said...

Thank you for doing this and for having one of the most informative blogs concerning IS/GD issues on the planet.