STILL FIERCE HRC submission
STILL FIERCE Sydney Intersex, Sex &/or Gender Diverse (ISGD) Collective demands protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity.
STILL FIERCE welcomes all intersex, sex and/or gender diverse folk, their friends and allies. We are a community-based collective that aims to promote the interests of the ISGD community and create an inclusive space for ISGD folk to meet, network, socialise and engage in ISGD activism and education.
There are no federal laws protecting the people involved in our collective and the wider ISGD community.
Current state-based laws are inconsistent and do not cover everyone. For example, Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory prohibit discrimination on the basis of ‘gender identity,’ whereas Western Australia only prohibits discrimination on the basis of ‘gender history’ against a ‘gender reassigned person’ (a person who has received legal recognition of their preferred sex). New South Wales prohibits discrimination against a ‘transgender’ person and also some additional discrimination protections that relate to a ‘recognised transgender person.’
Under these laws, many people are left with no legal protection. There is no protection for intersex people. Protection for people who are sex diverse, gender diverse, or sex &/or gender diverse is minimal and varies state-to-state.
ISGD people routinely experience threats to everyday life. Statistics of discriminatory violence show that ISGD people experience much higher levels of physical assault, verbal assault, and other forms of discrimination. A report called Speaking Out: Stopping Homophobic and Transphobic Abuse in Queensland showed that 92 per cent of transgender male to females had received verbal abuse, 46 per cent of transgender male to females and 45 per cent of transgender female to males had been physically assaulted without a weapon, and 38 per cent of transgender male to females had been physically attacked with a knife, bottle, stone or other weapon. These statistics are appalling and they are rarely reported in mainstream media.
Furthermore, these statistics only account for people who identify as MTF or FTM – they do not take into consideration the diversity of people, such as crossdressers, genderqueer people, and other sex &/or gender diverse people, nor do they account for intersexphobic violence.
According to ACON, Australia’s leading GLBT health organisation, transgender people experience higher levels of alcohol and other drug use than the broader community. The national depression initiative, beyondblue, is currently undertaking research into GLBT depression. Resources for ISGD people are difficult to locate and even the leading GLBT organisations struggle to meet the needs of ISGD communities. Mainstream medical service providers often have very little understanding of ISGD concerns and many ISGD people are regularly excluded and discriminated against by service providers.
There have not been enough studies to fully document the ways in which ISGD people are discriminated against, and many people are left out of GLBTI studies.
Suicide and self-harm is a significant factor for ISGD people. While there is no federal protection from discrimination, no broader education about ISGD people, no accessible services for ISGD people, no appropriate support networks for ISGD people, many ISGD people struggle to survive.
On November 20th, STILL FIERCE mourned lives lost to hate crimes as part of the internationally recognised Trans Day of Remembrance. This date was set aside twelve years ago and it is a tradition carried on by ISGD people and their allies. Yet it receives very little public attention. Many of our allies in GLB communities are not aware of this date. Many deaths due to hate crimes are not recorded as hate crimes.
Most people who are not ISGD are not aware of the experiences of ISGD people and how little protection our society provides for us.
We are being murdered, assaulted, abused, excluded, belittled, neglected, mishandled, misrepresented, coerced, alienated, marginalised, and silenced. Very few organisations speak for us and so we, as members of the ISGD community, are speaking for ourselves.
We need to be protected by law. That is the first step towards human rights for ISGD people. ISGD people should have the right to fully participate in public life, feel safe in public spaces, use public bathrooms, seek and maintain employment, access health care, accommodation, charity and gender-segregated shelters, experience a just prison system, practice their faith, and seek education. While we are unprotected by law, these basic needs are denied to many ISGD people.
These laws must be inclusive of a diversity of people who are not cissexual or cisgendered, people whose diverse bodies, identities, sexualities and experiences cannot be contained under limiting terminology.
There are many people who do not identify and do not fit within with the labels ‘Transgender’ and ‘Intersex.’
STILL FIERCE uses the term ISGD as an inclusive alternative term. We aim to come together under the banner Intersex, Sex and/or Gender Diverse to discover our similarities, celebrate our differences, and work together to fight transphobia, homophobia and discrimination based on sex, gender and sexuality.
We feel that ISGD is the most inclusive term currently in use, and it is more inclusive than GLBTI. Whilst discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, and sexuality are often related, communities based on sexual orientation and sex &/or gender identity are not the same. There are specific issues experienced by members of these communities and these issues should be considered as unique to each community.
In order for our specific needs to be met, ISGD people must be considered as separate from GLB communities.
Many features of society contribute to the systemic and institutionalised oppression of ISGD people, but some of these features can be changed with federal protection from discrimination.
For example, gender markers on photo identification can give the space for discrimination against people whose gender morphology (or presentation) does not match their legal sex. A gendered title on a letter from a bank or Centrelink can expose a stealth trans person who has not changed their birth certificate. These things may change if we have federal protection from discrimination. These things must change for ISGD people to be safer in society.
STILL FIERCE demands the right to self-determination. We believe that the state and/or medical professions should not have the right to dominate, determine or control our relationship to our bodies, sex or gender. We believe in ISGD self-determination, including:
the right to nominate our own pronouns and have that desire respected;
the right to accessible and free medical interventions for those who desire them;
the right to alter our documents and legal status as we see fit, without having to meet unjust, arbitrary, state-enforced requirements;
the right to refuse to nominate ‘male’ or ‘female’ status, or gendered titles on forms, applications, official and un-official documents.
We demand anti-discrimination protections and collectively oppose all forms of violence against ISGD people. We demand fair treatment when dealing with government organisations, and an end to police violence and the transphobic prison system that consistently fails to recognise the needs of ISGD people.
STILL FIERCE demands federal protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity, in language that is inclusive of the diversity of bodies, sexualities, and identities that exist in our society. We believe in human rights for all people and a legal system that protects us.
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