LEADING trans advocates have condemned transphobic comments made by Australian entertainer Barry Humphries, not only for the negative impact they could have on the trans community but because they take attention away from more important issues.
Humphries, 81, who rose to international fame playing drag character Dame Edna Everage said in an interview with British newspaper The Daily Telegraph that Caitlyn Jenner — arguably the world’s most famous trans woman — was a “publicity-seeking ratbag”.
“Caitlyn Jenner — what a publicity-seeking ratbag. It’s all given the stamp — not of respectability, but authenticity or something. If you criticise anything you’re racist or sexist or homophobic.”
Transgender Victoria executive director Sally Goldner said the feeling in the trans community was that people were sick of debating their existence.
“I acknowledge Barry Humphries is an artist, performer and entertainer, but that doesn’t mean he’s an expert on transgender issues,” she told Star Observer.
“I’ll go on my gut instinct that he thinks any publicity is good, like his friend Germaine, that any headline is good.
“His remarks are hateful and promote vilification.”
Goldner also said media coverage of Humphries’ comments took the attention away from important trans issues such as health and documentation.
“They’re not being talked about and they should be,” she said.
Goldner recommended trans people seek support services, such as QLife, if they feel affected by transphobia.
Young Victorian of the Year finalist and Minus 18 communications manager Margot Fink said that while Caitlyn Jenner hasn’t been a perfect role model, no trans person deserved to be treated badly.
“It’s really quite disappointing and a wasted opportunity to speak out against bigotry,” she said.
“Especially for someone who has made their name on gender non-conformity.
“For a lot of people it’s important to remember Barry Humphries is not a trans person, he’s not even LGBTI… these are our identities and our lives.
“Barry Humphries can take his dress off after his performances… but for trans people when the going gets rough, we can’t shed a costume.”