It’s that time of the week again, Adelaide. Whilst I haven’t been here for very long (happy one month to me), I’ve been trying to get into a routine of answering your questions every second week, meaning this column is a week "late".
What we learned from Trans Awareness Week
Last week was Trans Awareness Week, and media representation, conversations on the trans experience and their rights is more important than ever. So here I am, waving the white, blue and pink flag high!
Navigating the world of sexuality can be a bit like trying to assemble IKEA furniture – confusing at first, missing a few key pieces but ultimately worth it.
So, strap in as we delve into the joy of understanding and embracing the transgender experience. To be clear, this article is for everyone: Trans people, cis people, the queers, the heteros and every human in between, so stay with me!
Trans Education 101
The term transgender or gender diverse, refers to someone whose gender identity doesn’t match the gender they were assigned at birth. Both of these terms have similar meanings, however the term “transgender” still holds a more binary driven (masculine-feminine) connotation, whereas “gender diverse” is often used by humans wanting more flexibility in their identity.
The 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics census on Sex and Gender Diversity found that LQBTQIA+ community represents approximately 11 per cent of the Australian population. Of this 11 per cent, they found that approximately 13 per cent identified as transgender. As stats on trans people (and the LGTQIA+ community more generally) can be underrepresented, I can bet your bottom dollar it’s higher than that.
Our not so friendly streets
Picture this: a street that feels more like a challenging obstacle course than a safe passage. According to a recent study report by Beyond Blue and La Trobe University, a staggering 43 per cent of trans and gender-diverse Aussie’s don’t feel safe on the street. On top of that, about 32 per cent of trans and gender diverse people said they don’t feel safe on public transport.
Australia finds itself at the crossroads of transgender rights, with a unique blend of progress and challenges. According to the ABS 2016 survey, our nation ranks eigth out of 23 counties in attitudes toward transgender rights. While on a state level, recent months have witnessed positive strides for the trans community, there are still some hurdles that set Australia apart in the global context.
On the home front, positive winds of change are blowing. South Australia led the way with a ground-breaking policy allowing students to wear uniforms and use bathrooms aligned with their gender identity.
Meanwhile, in Victoria, senior high school students were granted the liberating choice of identifying as having an “unidentified gender” on official exams and documents.
Hurdles in hormone treatments
Australia holds a unique status globally, being the only country where individuals under 18 must navigate the family court to access “stage two” hormone treatments involving the ingestion of oestrogen or testosterone. Notably, “stage one” treatments, such as puberty blockers, are within reach without requiring court approval, prescribed by doctors.
As Australia stands at this crossroads, the nation is grappling with the intricacies of balancing progress and ensuring access to essential healthcare for transgender youth. The journey forward requires a delicate dance between legal considerations and the pressing need for inclusive and supportive policies.
With all this in mind, here are a few tips on things we can be doing to support the trans and gender diverse community as allies!
Respecting Pronouns and Identities
Respecting a trans person’s chosen name and pronouns is a fundamental way to affirm their identity. Using the correct language demonstrates a commitment to understanding and acknowledging their journey. In intimate moments, this acknowledgment can significantly contribute to a positive and affirming experience.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes too!
If you’re not sure of someone’s gender, ask them in a kind way. If you mis-gender someone, correct yourself and move on. Acknowledging your mistake openly and casually by correcting yourself can go a long way!
Take the time to educate yourself about transgender experiences, terminology, and the challenges faced by the community.
Knowledge is a powerful tool for dispelling misconceptions and fostering empathy. Understanding the physical and emotional aspects of transitioning can deepen the connection between partners. A great resource I use is Trans Hub.
Supporting Each Other
Transitioning is a personal journey that often involves emotional and physical changes. Supporting a friend or partner through these changes is crucial for maintaining a strong connection. Attend support groups together, engage in open conversations about their needs, and be a reliable source of love and encouragement.
Embrace the diversity within the transgender community. Recognise that every individual’s experience is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to intimacy.
Celebrate the beauty of peoples’ identity and appreciate the strength it takes to navigate a world that may not always understand or accept them fully.
Trans Awareness Week is a reminder to appreciate and celebrate the richness of transgender experiences. By fostering open communication, respecting identities, educating ourselves, and supporting one another, we contribute to creating intimate spaces that honour and uplift all individuals.
Let’s embrace diversity, challenge societal norms, and work towards a future where love and connection transcend gender boundaries.
Say it with me, Trans rights matter!
If this article has affected you or someone you know:
- Qlife: 1800 184 527 or online at www.qlife.org.au (3pm – midnight everyday)
- Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 or online at www.kidshelpline.com.au(24hrs/7days)
Lifeline: 13 11 14 or online at Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14 – Crisis Support and Suicide Prevention (24hrs/7days)