News Law Updates

By Ben Aulich


This is not about ‘fairness’, it is discrimination

Katherine Deves seeks amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (“the Act”) to “clarify” the law so that an organisation can conduct a “single-sex” sport and it not be discriminatory.

In general terms, the current wording of the Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person because of their sex, gender identity, intersex status, sexual orientation etc. Ms Deves’ proposed amendments and the support given to her by the Prime Minister, who describes her as a woman standing up for fair access in sport, are a slap in the face of trans people in Australia.  It is also contrary to one of the very wonderful things about what it means to be Australian – to be inclusive of differences including differences in sex, culture and religion. They both try to dress it up as “fairness for girls in sport” but scratch the surface and you’ll see an undercurrent of conservative, religious-based attitudes of lack of empathy and understanding of trans people.

Remember, Deves has made comments that trans children are “surgically mutilated and sterilised” and compared her activism to standing up against the holocaust. Instead of calling her out like NSW Treasurer and fellow Liberal Party Member, Matt Kean did, the Prime Minster defended her position.

We are not talking about professional sport, where there is prize money, sponsorship, drug testing and potentially fame for athletes. We are talking about community sport for children. The amendments to the Bill will allow a trans girl to be excluded from playing community sport in a team of girls (who she identifies as, and with). So think about your son/daughter, brother/sister or loved one who is trans and wants to be included in under 11 girls’ netball at the local netball courts. The amendments sought will allow your loved one to be excluded on the basis that she is trans and can’t play against, and with, “little girls”. Why would anyone want that? Why would anyone advocate for that? And why would the Prime Minster support that horrible, demeaning and exclusive attitude in our community? Community sport for children is about inclusivity, acceptance, friendship and bonding. It’s about playing the game nicely and learning to win and learning to lose. It’s about building character and teaching skills – and for the parents, learning to stand in the cold on a Saturday morning and smile.

If a trans girl wanted to play netball or soccer (or any other sport for that matter) against my daughter – and as such has some slight biological advantage by having a bit more testosterone – I can live with that. My daughter can live with that too. I’d rather them all play and all feel included and accepted. Afterall, surely that is more important in community sport than anything else?

I hope we can see through the proposed amendments to the Act and keep taking steps forward to truly accept trans people rather than trying to construct barriers to their inclusion, dressed-up as something else.