ON a day that champions the achievements of women while recognising the ongoing struggle of gender inequality, Anna Brown believes it’s important to highlight women who face intersectional discrimination – because of both their sexual and gender identities.
International Women’s Day is an annual celebration of women around the world, one that Brown sees as a significant opportunity to raise awareness around women in the LGBTI community.
“As queer women in Australia we have an important role to play in standing in solidarity with women across the world.
“For instance, we need to ensure that our government’s foreign policy initiatives on women and girls are inclusive of lesbian, bisexual, trans, and intersex women.”
Brown also pointed to the recent attack on the Safe Schools program, saying Australia’s reached a point where groups like the Australian Christian Lobby are using feminist critiques of trans women to challenge programs developed by the Safe Schools Coalition.
“We need to find a space for respectful and thoughtful debate on these issues within the women’s movement, to ensure we’re working collectively to advance the rights of all women,” she said.
“On International Women’s Day I feel very proud to be a queer woman, because I stand on the shoulders of some incredible women from our own community that have been at the forefront of struggles for women’s equality.”
Trans activist Margot Fink believes it is important for both trans and cisgender women to stand together on International Women’s Day.
“While trans women definitely do experience distinct and different issues, they still very much experience many of the same issues as cisgender women,” she told the Star Observer.
“So standing in solidarity and offering the same support is vital to improve the lives of all women.
“Inclusion for trans women who also identify as bi or gay is important, but unfortunately trans women sometimes get excluded or left out in queer women’s spaces.”
Fink added that trans women should feel safe in women’s spaces, as much as any other woman in the LGBTI community.
“It’s not uncommon to assume that trans women will be straight, but the reality is being trans holds no bearing on sexuality,” she said.
“Trans women can be straight, gay, bi, pansexual, asexual, you name it… so they need to feel safe and welcome in women’s spaces as much as other queer women.
“Beyond that, we also need to make sure cisgender women don’t feel prejudice or unsafe around trans women.”
Living in a world where homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny are still prevalent, Fink said she was proud to continue fighting for women.
“To be an LGBTI woman isn’t always easy, but I’m so incredibly proud to stand alongside some incredible, powerful, wonderful people who are unapologetically themselves, and fight for the right of all other women to do the same,” she said.
Transgender Victoria executive director Sally Goldner, who was also named GLOBE’s GLBTI Person of the Year, believes domestic violence is an important issue facing sexual and gender diverse women.
“Bisexual women face high levels of domestic violence and mental health issues, and a large chunk of that is due to erasure and a lack of bi visibility,” she told the Star Observer.
“Intimate partner violence is largely perpetrated by men, and so we need inclusive services and funding for LGBTI organisations, particularly organisations for trans and bi women.”
In a submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence, Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria reported that one in three LGBTI people have been in an abusive relationship.
“We are the experts and we need to drive the debate… much like women need to drive women’s debates,” Goldner said.
“A colleague recently said having others drive my debates is like having Tony Abbott as our Minister for Women.”
Much like Brown and Fink, Goldner said she was proud to be a woman in the LGBTI community and on International Women’s Day.
“As both a trans and bi woman, I like to say I’m a #binarybuster,” she said.
“We have amazing insights into gender that go well beyond most of society, and even some of the LGBTI community… women need to work together to make major changes because when we face prejudice, everybody loses.”