VICTORIAN Liberal MP Louise Staley has been criticised by the LGBTI community for her comments about trans people during a debate in parliament last night.

The divisive debate was on a proposed bill allowing trans and gender diverse people to change the sex on their birth certificate without having undergone sex reassignment surgery.

When Staley rose to speak, she said she opposed the bill and ‘men’ changing their birth certificate without surgery.

“This is the sort of post-modernist mumbo jumbo we have come to expect from the Andrews Labor government,” she said.

“I ask the house to reflect on what we’re doing when we let a man who has male chromosomes and who naturally has the right to enjoy privileges we as a society still give to men… be recognised by the state as a woman because he feels like a sex he biologically is not and cannot ever experience.

“I can’t help feel that such men are engaging in a radical form of mansplaining, telling women what really makes a woman.”

Staley went on to cite radical feminist Sheila Jeffreys, who has been under fire multiple times for her attacks on the trans community.

She added that including preoperative trans people in clubs, schools, and associations that are only open to one gender would cause “community disharmony”.

“The feminist in me objects strongly to a man changing his birth certificate to female because he feels enough of a woman to identify as one but not enough to take the step of permanently doing so,” she said.

Chair of Transgender Victoria Brenda Appleton was at the debate, and said some of the comments made her feel ignored.

“The MPs [in opposition to the bill] seemed to feel that passing this legislation will suddenly lead to people becoming trans and being a threat to society,” she told the Star Observer.

“The reality is that trans people have always been there, and I felt that a lot of their comments were denying our existence and our positive contributions to the community.”

Appleton added that Staley’s comments were extremely damaging.

“I think to throw Sheila Jeffreys in our face when she’s been discredited in so many forums is appaling, and I lament the ability of the Liberal Party to contribute to social justice reform,” she said.

Trans advocate and author of The Gender Fairy Jo Hirst was also at the debate.

“It was a shock to hear such blatant transphobia in such a setting,” she told the Star Observer.

“She could not look at the gallery which was full of transgender people and their families.

“She walked out immediately after her speech with her head down and did not look up… I can only hope she felt a sense of shame.”

Executive Director of Transgender Victoria Sally Goldner said she would expect Victoria’s MPs to use their parliamentary privilege with care and responsibility.

“There was extreme shock from those trans and gender diverse people in the gallery, including myself” she told the Star Observer.

The debate will resume this afternoon, with the bill expected to pass the lower house, despite opposition from the Liberal MPs.

When it makes it to the upper house, it will come down to the crossbenchers to decide whether the reforms are legislated.

Louise Staley has been contacted for comment.

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