Just when you thought Mark Latham couldn’t get more cooked, he turns up the temperature yet again. Former Labor leader and ongoing meat-sweats mascot Mark Latham has launched the “Anti-PC Pack,” proving as much of a mistake as it is a mouthful. Distributed to at least 500 P&C groups around the state, it proves the next step in the dogmatic playbook of Binary Australia (formerly the Marriage Alliance).
The packet, which is designed to “[keep children] safe against radical transgender indoctrination,” includes your run of the mill anti-LGBTQIA+ hate propaganda, recommends parents become intimately involved in the bathroom and sleeping habits of other people’s children, and meticulously teaches them how to become their own child’s first bully.
Supported by several MPs, including Corrective Services MP Anthony Roberts, Mulgoa MP Tanya Davies, and Finance Minister Damien Tudehope, it is important to clarify that the entire foundation of these handouts are built on a lie. Radical transgender indoctrination is not a thing, the thought police are not real, and anti-bullying campaigns are precisely that: supporting all young people (trans and cis [ie. not trans]) to be themselves without fear of physical or mental abuse.
As a young person, when I approached my principal and school leadership about coming out at my Anglican high school, they did a very good job of showing their discomfort and anger towards a scared child, needing no outside help to make me feel unsafe and like I was a burden to them.
Being a trans adult has its complications, but I feel able to exist on my own terms, and am able to decide which figures of authority to interact with and respect. As a child, you don’t have this option, and are expected to listen to those in positions of power, be they teachers, parents, community leaders, or even older students. When that power is used to disabuse you of your lived reality, and to perpetuate harm towards you, there is little ability to escape.
To think that those same people, in those same positions of power, are now being equipped with the tools and misinformation to ensure their bigotry is as harmful as possible sickens me, knowing first hand the damage that a lack of support can do, and the lasting effects that homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia can wreak.
Speaking to the Herald earlier this week, Latham, chair of the NSW upper house’s education committee, said that “schools made a big mistake when they stopped being places of learning and ventured into the world of mental health assessment and radical gender theory.”
Yet it’s precisely this world of knowledge – allowing young people to know and explore their inner lives, about their bodies and how they might want them to be touched , seen, and known by others, and that autonomy of boundaries, selfhood and actions is not only valid but to be celebrated – that creates healthy, responsible and caring adults, both trans and cis.
This announcement comes in what has proved to be a shocking week for the increasingly pressure-cooker like conditions that the media cultivates for transgender and gender diverse people across the country, including the appalling backlash to Cricket Australia’s statement welcoming trans and gender diverse cricketers into the organisation, and as nationwide chip wrapping The Australian only this week launched a special section entirely about gender, specifically complaining about how some people seem to have too much or not enough of it.
The role that politicians and the media play in stoking the flames of transphobia in our government, workplaces and schools is unforgivable, and the high rates of self harm and suicide our community faces (a direct response to the institutional transphobia and violence we face) are on the shoulders of every person who perpetuates these lies and myths.
I will never understand these people, and the fear that lies behind their every action and thought, because I firmly believe that trans and gender diverse kids are our future, and that queer youth will lead the way to a safer, kinder and better world for all people, and it’s on us to lay the path they can walk. When I look back to what I had to deal with in school, and the opposition I faced, I want to promise a better world for our trans youth, and to back that promise up with action.
So do what you can – maybe it’s supporting the queer young people in your life, maybe it’s fighting for their rights at your local school or your workplace, and maybe it’s burning the fuck out of an ‘anti-PC pack’, imagining how beautiful a world can be that springs from the ashes.
Liz is a writer, sexual health researcher and filmmaker who has had articles, poetry and essays in a range of publications. A transgender and non binary woman, she co-hosts wholesome sex ed show @letsdoitpodcast, and is on Twitter at @lizduckchong.