A social media post promoting a transgender and gender diverse swim night hosted by Inner West Council has received a deluge of abusive and transphobic comments, causing the post to be removed from Facebook. 

Earlier this month, Council announced that Ashfield Aquatic Centre would be hosting a free, exclusive swim night for the local trans and gender diverse community, as well as allies, friends, partners and families. While the announcement was initially embraced online, a barrage of abusive comments on Monday night, believed to have come from users overseas, forced the post to be taken down.

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An Inner West Council spokesperson told Star Observer that “council officers took the decision to take down the post after a torrent of abusive transphobic trolling”, and that the decision was taken to “deny these trolls a platform for their abuse.” They added that the swim night will continue to go ahead as planned, and that council will “ensure an atmosphere of safety and support for all attendees.”

Inner West Greens councillor Dylan Griffiths said on Tuesday morning that “100s of transphobes and far-right” people mainly from the United States and the United Kingdom were involved in the abuse, tweeting that he was “proud to be part of a council that supports trans [and non-binary] people.”

Cr Griffiths told Star Observer on Wednesday that “after looking at some of the profiles that were engaging in trolling, these were people who really do peddle very hateful views towards a variety of marginalised groups.” 

He believed that the abuse was coming from overseas and not from people in the Inner West. 

Online Hatred Can ‘Worsen’ Mental Health Issues Already Higher in the Trans and Gender Diverse Community

Professor at the University of NSW Centre for Social Research in Health, Christy Newman, who focuses on LGBTQI health and wellbeing, told Star Observer that trolling and online hatred can “worsen the mental health issues that are already higher among this part of the community than others.” 

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“We know that many public environments, and also online environments, can be really frightening for trans and gender diverse people,” Newman said. 

They added that “public facilities and environments like swimming pools can feel unsafe or unwelcoming to trans and gender diverse people,” and there was “reason to create deliberately safe spaces in our local communities.” 

Inner West Councillors Condemn Transgender Discrimination 

The swim event comes after Inner West councillors unanimously condemned transgender and gender diverse discrimination at a meeting in March. An amendment made to the motion included a push for Council to host events and actions to support the transgender community.

The trans and gender diverse community, as well as partners, friends, and allies, are invited to the swimming event on April 29 and will have access to pool facilities and refreshments, as well as an aqua aerobics class.  

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

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