Hundreds of people attended a vigil outside Hobart Town Hall on Saturday to show their support for equality and inclusion for Tasmania’s trans community.
The vigil coincided with a meeting of the transphobic Coalition for Biological Reality in the Town Hall.
The meeting featured speakers who oppose the law recognising the gender identity of trans and gender diverse people and who support Senator Claire Chandler’s bill excluding trans women and intersex people from sport.
Equality Tasmania spokesperson Dr Charlie Burton told the vigil that “discrimination and exclusion are bad for trans people, bad for their families, and bad for Tasmanian society”.
“At a time when the trans and gender diverse community is under attack, I hope trans and gender diverse Tasmanians will take heart from such a strong, loving, supportive and positive show of support,” said Dr Burton.
“The Coalition for Biological Reality has a right to espouse its views, but we disagree vehemently that allowing trans women to play women’s sport or access women’s services is a threat to other women.
“Senator Chandler claimed that sex-based rights have been ‘politicised’ and advocates ‘silenced’, which seemed a bit rich given she introduced her bill just before an election and, thanks to that bill, has a national platform.”
Trans woman Jade Darko said that the vigil showed cis and trans women were stronger together.
“Trans women are victims of harassment and abuse, not perpetrators as the Coalition for Biological Reality would have us believe, and it was wonderful to see so many people at our vigil affirming that,” said Darko.
“The constant debate of our right to exist is extremely painful and causes real harm.”
Former Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Robin Banks said that Senator Chandler’s bill “addresses none of the pressing safety or equality issues facing women and girls”.
“Senator Chandler’s rationale for the bill is entirely flawed, given discrimination laws permit single-sex sport where there is a justification for it, and allows measures that promote equality for women and girls, including in sport,” said Banks.
“Attacks on anyone’s equality are attacks on all equality.”
Hobart City Council made its position clear by flying trans pride flags from the Town Hall balcony.
A community statement affirming the rights and dignity of trans and gender diverse Tasmanians was published in the Hobart Mercury on Saturday, with endorsements from a wide range of Tasmanian women’s organisations and individuals.