Senate debates

Tuesday, 30 November 2021


Chandler, Senator Claire

7:29 pm

Photo of Nick McKimNick McKim (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

In recent times this chamber has been regularly subjected to quite a bit of anti-trans rhetoric from Senator Chandler. She'll come in here and use what is an extremely privileged platform to spout reheated, half-baked talking points from the American far Right and do that no matter the cost to the lives of trans folk here in Australia. I can't help thinking that what appears to be a culture war crusade is how Senator Chandler thinks she's going to get ahead in the Liberal Party. That's the reality of the Liberal Party in modern Australia: you go to war, you fight the culture wars, and maybe a ministry awaits. It's not as though there are any real consequences for bigotry in the modern Liberal Party in Australia. We see racism and colonialism writ large, and the people who espouse those causes keep getting ahead in the modern Liberal Party. It's as if Senator Chandler got up one day and said, 'I know how I'll get ahead in the Liberal Party: I'll make a name for myself as an anti-trans senator.' The truth is that, in doing so, Senator Chandler is exposing trans folk to harm, in order to make that name for herself.

I want to talk about Jasper Lees, my stepson and a fantastic young trans man whom I love very much. He's a great bloke—and I use the words 'man' and 'bloke' because that's what he is. Jasper is a trans man, which means he's a man, like all trans men are men and all trans women are women. No amount of anti-trans diatribe from anybody in this chamber is going to change that reality: that trans men are men and trans women are women.

This isn't a cost-free campaign from Senator Chandler. It's a deeply damaging, deeply hurtful and deeply corrosive campaign, and it's damaging and harmful and corrosive to trans people. Many trans folk have, in their lives, had to deal and grapple with really complex, complicated and difficult issues, and for many of them it's made them really vulnerable and able to be easily hurt. What we should all be doing in this place is giving them our love and support, not trying to weaponise who they are to make a political point or build a political career. I urge folks in this chamber, next time you want to play the hate card against trans people, to think about the harm, the hurt and the damage you're causing. Think about the impact on them, and maybe make a choice to give them some love and support rather than pour hatred onto them.

This kind of rhetoric, this kind of diatribe that we see creeping into this place from a small number, is writ large from the far Right in the US. Thankfully at the moment it is only a small number of senators here. But I won't go quietly on this, and neither will my colleagues in the Greens. I know that for a fact. We will stand up for trans folk, just as we stood up for other queer folk in this chamber, when no other party was standing up for them—15-odd years ago, when we were the only party campaigning for marriage equality and the only party with a position of supporting marriage equality. Just as that was a hard debate for queer folk in this country, so are some of the debates that we're having now difficult and potentially harmful for trans folk. So please, find it within your hearts to give them a bit of love and support, rather than trying to weaponise who they are as people, with the risk of causing them such grievous harm.