Inner West Labor unanimously votes down motion to endorse trans rally
by GRACE JOHNSON
The trans community has been left disappointed after Labor councillors voted down endorsing Trans Day of Resistance during the Inner West Council meeting on Tuesday night.
The motion was brought to council by Councillor Liz Atkins, who asked that Council agree to fly the flag for Trans Awareness Week through to the Day of Resistance on November 25, in addition to flying the flag at half mast every year for Trans Day of Remembrance. The motion also requested that Council endorse the Trans Day of Resistance and promote the event on social media and in the November edition of Council news.
Labor councillors, the majority, unanimously voted down the motion, despite full support from the Greens and some Independents.
Instead of endorsing the event, flags will be flown at the Town Hall sites and pale pink and blue coloured lights will illuminate Camperdown Memorial Rest Park. And in lieu of promoting the Trans Day of Resistance rally, they will highlight the work of trans and gender diverse activists and organisations, shirking an active position of support.
The decision to vote down support for Trans Day of Resistance is, however, consistent with the Labor government’s lack of action overall regarding the trans community.
A spokesperson from activist collective Pride in Protest told City Hub that “it’s disappointing that the Inner West Council isn’t, because of the Labor majority, willing to stand behind the trans community and everything that we’re doing for safety and justice.”
“It doesn’t stop us from everything we’re going to do, we just have to know that Council isn’t behind this as much as we’d hoped they would be.”
The Minns Labor government had promised to ban conversion therapy, recognised as a form of torture by the United Nations, and the lack of progress has already been highlighted and criticised.
The Pride in Protest spokesperson told City Hub, “It does seem to be a trend within the Labor Party that they’ll say they support our communities, say they support trans rights. But when it comes to material things they can do to show that support, they’re nowhere to be found.”
Cr Atkins spoke to City Hub about the motion’s outcome, saying “it was really disappointing.”
“Council has previously passed a lot of motions including supporting changes to birth certificates without having to have surgery and putting a motion to Local Government NSW about gender affirmation leave.”
“We do support trans and queer rights. But this time they would not endorse the resistance rally,” they continued. “For Labor, I think that demands went too far in relation to the demands about cops out of community.”
For the Trans Day of Resistance, Pride in Protest brought several demands to council, including enabling gender self-ID without undergoing surgery (NSW is the only state in Australia to not allow this), providing a minimum of 6 paid weeks of annual leave for gender-affirming surgeries, reinstating an improved and universal Safe Schools program at every school, and ending the policing of the trans community, including no cops at Pride.
Cr Atkins said, “At this point in time, the Inner West Council is prepared to do the easy things. They’re prepared to do the flag flying and the lights in the park. To put the flag at half mast, that’s very easy to do.
“But when it comes to the demands of trans people in particular, and queer people in general, who are over-policed by the police, they aren’t prepared to support those hard demands.”
Yaz from Pride in Protest also spoke to City Hub, saying despite the sense of community trans people have amongst themselves and with allies, it is difficult to overcome the unique struggles that the trans and queer community face when they lack support from local councils, especially from the most progressive areas of Sydney.
“Even when you have a strong community behind you, you are just facing such a behemoth because the institutions and bureaucracies we engage with just appear to hold so much power,” they said.
“And then when we call upon our local governments to support us and push up against those bureaucracies, and they don’t do that, it further gives that sense of just being isolated, not being able to have that material change that is needed.”
The spokesperson of Pride in Protest also noted the disparity between support for the Trans Day of Remembrance and Day of Resistance.
“It really comes across as negating that this is a daily struggle that the trans community is engaged in and that we only need to think back and commiserate about folks who have lost their lives, rather than actually doing anything to keep the current trans community alive,” they said.
Speaking to Council, Cr Atkins called attention to a recent report by the Trans Justice Project and the Victorian Pride Lobby, which found that anti-trans hate has been intensifying over time, with 8 out of 10 participants reporting an increase in the past three years. 1 in 2 trans people experience anti-trans hate, and 1 in 10 experience anti-trans violence.
Cr Atkins also pointed to legislation regarding trans people in the United Kingdom and the United States, which exclude them from the health system and insist on putting them in prisons according to the gender assigned at birth, thus increasing their exposure to danger.
“We need to make sure that does not happen here,” said Cr Atkins, “and the Inner West Council has been in the forefront of work to make it clear that trans and gender diverse people are welcome in our community.”
In asking the council to endorse the November 25 rally, Cr Atkins emphasised the over-policing of the trans community and the underreporting of crimes against trans and queer people that ensues.
Last year’s rally saw over 3000 attendees, and Pride in Protest is hoping to have the same turnout this November. Whether the government will listen to the community is yet to be seen.
At the time of publication, City Hub is still awaiting comment from Labor Councillor Mat Howard.