My Voice is Not My Own

For many years, I didn’t have my own voice. This isn’t to say that I couldn’t talk, only that I had no dialogue to utilise. Most people had no vocabulary for what I was, or what should be done about me. I had no safe space in which to speak.

Additionally, because of the hurdles female-to-male transgender people face in accessing voice-deepening hormones, I had no physical voice to speak.

Let me get something straight for all your heteronormative types. I am not a whining freeloader. Nor are most gender variants like me. We are lawyers, doctors, students, tradespeople and public servants. We are brothers, sisters and siblings. Many of us are tertiary educated.

Yet, we are required to waste years of our lives and tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes even traveling overseas) to undertake risky surgery so that we may change a small but essential thing– our identification.

Sound like a hassle?

That’s not half of it. In order to earn the right to spend my own money, I have to travel across the continent to find available psychiatrists who are willing to see my kind. This is because the prerequisite to receiving hormones and completely reversible surgery is a diagnosis of ‘gender identity dysphoria’. A cisgender woman who wants chest tissue removed only needs to pay for it. But not a transgender person.

Not even an articulate, published author working several volunteer jobs and studying fulltime, all without being able to show my face in public!

As the result of these hurdles, the vast majority of transgender people are not recognised as members of their gender, and may never be.

Meanwhile, intersex people are worse than unrecognised. They are pathologised, often surgically eliminated at birth. They are not allowed to list a third gender on their birth certificates, nor opt out of listing their gender on formswhere gender shouldn’t be visible. Instead, they must choose either male or female, even when this causes them enormous anxiety.

These requirements have been called inhumane, and rightly so.

Without legal status, transgender and intersex people cannot be recognised by banks, the Tax Office, Medicare, the RTA or academic institutions. We cannot marry, and are forced to carry a paper trail that often prevents us from securing employment, even when we can demonstrate a higher level of education than others in the community.

We are victims of violence and discrimination. For too long, nobody listened.

But in a recent report, the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council (LRAC) proposed removing the requirement for transgender people to have unnecessary surgery. Intersex people should be acknowledged flexibly, or relieved from stating their gender on forms.

Years of suffering and countless suicides could be avoided, all at no cost!

What’s the problem?

Plenty, according to members of RiotACT ((a user generated Canberra news website), who prove that transgender vilification is alive and violently kicking.

Shortly after the report was released, RiotACT posted an article – ‘Won’t someone please think of the trannies?’ – that lampooned everything gender diverse people have toiled for. Commenters expressed the ignorant view that transgender people are not worth helping, that the intersex do not exist and that they should choose a ‘proper gender’.

To these remarks I say, yes, how horrible it is that we are helping people evade years of suffering and suicide! Perhaps we should think of the poor majority, whom we are surely inconveniencing with our cries?

Every argument against a costless aid to gender variant people is based on arbitrary hate. There is no reason to not give us recognition. We suffered for your heteronormativity for over a century of Australian government. Step back for five ungrateful minutes and throw us a bone.

The ACT government is supposed to represent me. The RiotACT is not my voice. A Gender Agenda and the LRAC are. I hope parliament listens, for the sakes of all who are voiceless.

We acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which Woroni, Woroni Radio and Woroni TV are created, edited, published, printed and distributed. We pay our respects to Elders past and present. We acknowledge that the name Woroni was taken from the Wadi Wadi Nation without permission, and we are striving to do better for future reconciliation.