A recently-released report by Amnesty International revealed barriers for trans* people to have their gender changed in Europe.
Many countries, including Denmark, FranceandGermanyrequireapsychiatric diagnosis for a person to legally change their gender. Surgery is also a common requirement, forcing some to undergo possibly unwanted surgery, which often results in sterilisation.
The Star Observer spoke with Transgender Victoria (TGV) executive director Sally Goldner about the current landscape for trans* organisations and rights in Australia compared with other countries.
Surgery is still a requirement for legal gender changes for adults in Australia, but Goldner said meeting with Argentinian activist Pablo Fracchia, who visited Australia last year, gave local LGBTI organisations an idea of how they could learn from other countries. Argentina’s legislation in this area has been identified as a model for the world.
“For birth certificates for adults it’s largely fill in a form and say I need to change my marker, and sign it. In simple terms that’s pretty much what we’re after here,” Goldner said.
Goldner also argued a lack of knowledge of trans* health in the medical community continued to be a problem. But she said the recent Family Court decision removing the requirement for parents of trans* children to seek the court’s permission to access reversible, stage one hormone treatment was a step forward.
Goldner also argued that while it was difficult to identify in any concrete way the situation was improving for trans* Australians around discrimination and transphobia.
“I think we do have some positive indicators here,” she said.
“I think our news media is doing quite well, particularly when on the downside we look at stories in both the US and the UK where trans* people have been outed by media and then sadly killed themselves.”
s and the fact that on the other hand Australia had a really good run of news media on trans* young people last year.”
While Australia’s trans* communities have celebrated several gains over the past year, the future of its organisations were uncertain, with many facing the same issues as the international community.
A survey of 340 trans* and intersex organisations worldwide by Global Action for Trans* Equality (GATE) and community development organisation the American Jewish World Service has revealed many organisations operated on small budgets and with limited financial stability.
The survey results also indicated organisations were rarely in receipt of government funding, even funding specifically earmarked for LGBTI organisations.
Goldner said this limited capacity created a catch-22, where a lack of funding made it very difficult to build the reputation an organisation would need to attract such funding.
She argued much of the funding trans* organisations received was tied to projects, like TGV’s recent $40,000 grant for ‘What Makes an Ally?’, which aims to promote supportive relationships between young trans* people and non-trans* allies. “Core” funding for things like staff and administration was more difficult to obtain.
“Government and charitable bodies want to see a track record, but it’s a bit like a 22-year-old just out of uni trying to get a job. They want people who have experience—how do you get experience if you’ve never had a job?” Goldner said.
She said because most people in Australia working for trans* organisations were volunteers, the need to fit activism around work and life commitments meant their capacity was limited and there was a risk of burnout.
“It’s really hard when there is so much that needs to be done and that we want to get moving. We need to be really ruthless in our priorities when we have limited resources,” Goldner argued.
She said creating links with other trans* organisations internationally could help build capacity locally, but argued the resources required to do that were currently not in place.
Read more of the Star Observer’s special trans* feature: