ANTI DISCRIMINATION BOSS TO FACE BIAS CLAIM OVER SEX CHANGE PLAN
Tasmania’s anti-discrimination commissioner Robin Banks is to face a complaint from a feminist activist to the Human Rights Commission over claims the activist was “bullied” and “belittled” at a meeting to discuss a controversial sex law change. Ms Banks has outraged some feminists by recommending changes to state law to allow men who identify as women, but who have not had a sex change, to legally register as female. An activist with the radical feminist Women’s Liberation Front (WLF), Tessa Anne, made a complaint to the Tasmanian government, alleging Ms Banks had “bullied, belittled” and discriminated against her on the basis of her sex, at a meeting held to discuss the plan.
The complaint was investigated by the state Department of Justice, which concluded that the meeting in question was “conducted in a manner which does not reflect best-practice process”. Department deputy secretary Ginna Webster, who reviewed Ms Anne’s complaint at the request of Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin, has written to Ms Banks expressing “concerns” about the conduct of the meeting and advised Ms Anne she would meet the commissioner to “reiterate these concerns”. In a letter to Ms Anne, Ms Webster says she has directed that “further guidance” be provided to Ms Banks’s Equal Opportunity Tasmania to ensure that public consultations adhere to the state service code of conduct.
However, Ms Webster concluded that there were “no grounds” to dismiss Ms Banks, which was the only disciplinary action open to the government given that the commissioner had “certain immunities”. Ms Webster advised Ms Anne that the federal Sex Discrimination Act was a “possible avenue” to further her grievance against Ms Banks. Ms Anne said she would now take up that option and lodge a sex discrimination complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). “We feel it’s important that this treatment is on the public record and the broader issue of women being bullied and ridiculed for standing up for women’s human rights is officially on the radar of the AHRC,” Ms Anne said.
Ms Banks did not respond to requests for comment but has denied bullying, belittling or discriminating against Ms Anne during the meeting. She has rejected objections to her proposed transgender law reforms, which would change the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act to make changing one’s official sex as easy as changing one’s name, and to allow a change of sex as frequently as once a year. WLF argues that the reform “legally erases the existence of female people” and undermines protections for women under anti-discrimination law, including those that allow for women-only services, such as domestic violence shelters and support groups, gyms, sports, events and clubs.
It fears the changes would allow men who identify as women to legally demand access to such services, as well as to jobs currently reserved for women, such as providing intimate care for aged or disabled women. Ms Anne said she was “satisfied” with Ms Webster’s response but disappointed the sex-discrimination complaint had been “handballed” to the federal jurisdiction.
GENDER NEUTRAL UNIFORMS COULD SOON BECOME A REALITY IN VICTORIA
A move away from a strictly boys wear pants, girls wear skirts dress code has been proposed by the Safe Schools Victoria coalition. In an interview with the ABC, Ann-Marie Hayes, executive director of the SA Education Department, spoke in support of the proposal. She stated that the prospective dress code posed a valid solution for bullying and emphasised that such a policy change would “help adapt to current demands. We already have some very good neutral uniforms. We actually make it very clear to the schools that they need to ensure there is no discrimination.” Ms Hayes placed emphasis on transgender students, saying that gender-neutral uniforms could make them feel more comfortable at school.
“If they wanted to choose to wear a girl’s uniform, because that is the diversity that they are choosing, they would be subjected to the same rules. If we put the wellbeing of our students at the forefront, we are ensuring that you can come to school and feel respected and have a safe place to be yourself.” Ms Hayes said the schools’ governing councils needed to be encouraged to set dress codes that could not cause discomfort for students of different religious or sexuality backgrounds. It is wrong, says the Safe School program, for parents, doctors, or teachers to presume a child’s gender is based on something so mundane, bourgeois and unenlightened as biology.
But is raising and educating children simply about making them comfortable by not ever challenging their decisions? Every good parent knows that they have a responsibility to ensure that they provide boundaries which will prevent their child from being harmed in the future. To help parents best protect and educate their children, parents must know the truth: gender ideology is harmful. In an editorial in The Mercury, Black Young reminded readers of the problems rife in the Safe Schools program. He stressed that encouraging children to play different genders has far-reaching consequences for their lives and wellbeing. In Safe Schools lies the idea that gender is an ineffable quality that can only be actualised by the individual, and then only after it has been discovered through happenstance and time.
Children, in some cases very young children, are encouraged to assert their gendered identity. Before they hit puberty, sometimes before they can even read, kids are locked into decisions that may affect every single day of the rest of the lives. The Safe School holds that only the blithe and bigoted and unloving person would ever question this system. The only acceptable course of action is that of affirmation. This strikes one as an odd way of raising children. Expecting them to be the repository of knowledge while all of society is to sit quietly on the outside, passive observers and nothing more. This is a bad program.