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A note about pronouns: Barry O'Sullivan's office did not get back to us about their preferred pronouns, so we will be using 'they/them' for this article.

Congratulations to Liberal National Party senator Barry O’Sullivan, who has either bravely come out as trans or has made a super shitty joke at the expense of trans people to defend being anti-abortion.

In a speech to the Senate today, they declared themselves to be a woman with the express intent of somehow making it so that left-wing critics would “no longer be able to attack [them]” over their stance on abortion. While they themselves made it pretty clear that this is a cynical move that makes a mockery of the genuine difficulties faced by trans people, there doesn’t seem to be any harm in taking their choice at face value.

O’Sullivan has previously stated that the conversation is a serious one that they don’t want to make light of, speaking in Senate Estimates in May:

I definitely don’t want to make light of any of the conversation. It’s quite a serious subject. What would that allow me to do, if I declared that my gender status was…um… female? Does that allow me the freedom of movement … I mean this is a serious question … Can I go into the ladies’ loo loo then?

O’Sullivan’s comments today came in response to criticism they drew from Greens senator Larissa Waters, who vocally opposed a motion by O’Sullivan that would see pro-choice activists banned from disrupting International Day of the Unborn Child.

Shortly after a Buzzfeed article about O’Sullivan’s comments was published, O’Sullivan’s Wikipedia article was updated with she/her pronouns. Shortly afterwards, the article was reverted to he/him, before it was changed back again to she/her.

O’Sullivan’s track record for queer issues is not exactly stellar, voting against the marriage equality bill in November last year, despite 61% of Queenslanders responding in favour of marriage equality in the postal survey.

If this is (as bizarre and as unlikely as it seems) a genuine coming out into queerhood, we congratulate them unreservedly. If this is a shitty joke: they can go fuck themselves.

(Actually, they can probably go fuck themselves either way.)

Update: The pronouns have been reverted back to he/him, again.

Further update: Someone has changed it back to she/her again and, you know what, we’re probably going to stop doing these updates now.

Image: AAP / Mick Tsikas