Jenny Leong MP delivers a Private Members Statement in the NSW Legislative Assembly in support of the Trans and Gender Diverse community, 12 May 2022.
Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (17:18): So much is being said about trans and gender diverse people at the moment. I have no interest in repeating the hateful, bigoted and straight up dangerous things that have been said and repeated in commentary in recent weeks. I will not name names or give any more oxygen to the people who are playing with the lives of others for their own gain, but I do have a message for them on behalf of the people of Newtown: Your words have consequences. They cause harm and lasting pain, and you are inspiring hatred, discrimination and in some cases even violence. We are seeing the consequences of your disgraceful words and actions playing out right now.
The incredibly hardworking advocates and service providers working with trans and gender diverse communities are telling us that as a direct result of the comments being made in the media and in politics over the past few weeks and months, they are being inundated with desperate pleas from people who are at breaking point. People are being screamed at on the street. They are having their hair and genitals pulled and grabbed at, and children in playgrounds are directly quoting members of Parliament as they harass and abuse trans and gender diverse young people in the schoolyard.
If that makes members feel uncomfortable, they might tell themselves that this is just the rough‑and‑tumble of politics. They might try to dismiss it as a tricky area that needs to be explored. To that I say: Sure, elections come and go, governments change and the public moves on. But what remains is the pain, the hurt and the trauma that is inflicted on individuals and communities whose lives and identities are questioned and invalidated for political gain, and it is a disgrace. Long after the headlines disappear, the damage remains and the abuse and discrimination continues. The harm inflicted cannot be undone with one meeting; there are long-term consequences for such actions.
What is never acknowledged in these discussions, however, is the enormous contribution that trans and gender diverse people make to our society. Despite what some would have us believe, trans and gender diverse people are people like everybody else. They work, pay taxes and contribute to our society. They are our friends, our children, our parents and our partners, who love and are loved. They are our teachers, our bus drivers, our favourite baristas or our favourite bartenders. They are artists and sports stars. They are not a punching bag or a political football, and they are certainly not to be used as collateral damage in a fight between warring factions.
Trans and gender diverse folks are also working on the front lines to support their own constantly attacked communities. The counsellors, advocates and support workers at the Gender Centre, ACON, Twenty10 and QLife—to name just a few—are working under enormous pressures, with very little resourcing to support their own community members who just cannot take any more attacks. Those services urgently need proper resourcing, and it is not acceptable that people in this Chamber and their colleagues feel okay about putting those communities at serious risk of harm in the interests of a few votes while refusing to provide the necessary funding and resources to save lives.
I say to anyone in this Chamber—whether the Premier, the Treasurer or others—who may be feeling a little guilty and looking for a way to be an ally to the trans and gender diverse community that there is a simple solution: Step up and fund those services properly. When a community is under attack, they need real allies. The recent Trans and Gender Diverse Swim Night hosted by the Inner West Council at Ashfield pool, with the Dykes on Bikes turning up as a welcoming party to make sure everyone felt safe as they entered the pool, is a clear example of real allyship. Transphobia affects and infects all parts of our society across the political spectrum, and it will take every single one of us to stay vigilant to stamp that out. It will not be simple and it will not be easy, but it is absolutely necessary. To the trans and gender diverse people right across the country, from all of my Greens colleagues and from the people of the electorate of Newtown, I say this: We see you, we hear you and we value you. You are not up for debate. You are valid, you are beautiful, you are loved, and you deserve to be treated with equal dignity and respect.