A Melbourne-based trans woman, who left the anti-vax movement in Australia, was the victim of a transphobic attack last week. Ash Jackson had recently gone public with her journey into the “freedom” movement and her decision to quit the group.
Trigger Warning: This story has details and graphic images of a transphobic attack, which might be distressing to some readers. 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.
Unprovoked Trans-Hate Assault
“A week ago, (Jackson) was the target of an unprovoked trans-hate assault where she was king hit five times, choked unconscious and kicked in the head, resulting in a severely broken jaw requiring surgery and dental work,” said Joel Hill, who set up the GoFundMe campaign on behalf of Jackson.
“The offender is on remand and is known to be violent to other women, including putting his own mother in a coma a few years ago. He also stole $800 of Ash’s rent money, which the police were unable to locate,” the campaign page revealed.
The page posted photos of Jackson after the attack. “Surgery is required, and it’s a specialist surgery which will result in a long time of recovery where she can’t work or do much of anything at all,” the campaign page added.
‘Brainwashed’ By The ‘Freedom’ Movement
Jackson had last month told The Age that she was “brainwashed” by the freedom movement – a disparate group of anti-vaxxers, right-wing activists and QAnon followers united in their opposition to masks, lockdowns and COVID-19 vaccines.
She exited the movement following her May 2021 detention. Jackson said she was exhorted by other protestors to throw herself in front of the police during a protest, but found her fellow protestors and a protest leader had abandoned her after she was taken in by the police. The Victoria police did not file formal charges and she was allowed to go, after a talk with the officers.
Rebuilding Her Life
Ash Jackson was once part of the 'Freedom Movement', believing conspiracy theories online. Now, she's left the movement and tells us all about how it had such a grip on her life.#TheProjectTV pic.twitter.com/TNeXTy9xbU
— The Project (@theprojecttv) February 23, 2022
The incident and her experience with the police who empathised with her firmed up her decision to leave the anti-vax movement. Jackson told The Age that if she hadn’t left the group, she “would have probably ended up in some sort of psych ward or something. When you believe that strongly in something and that the police are coming for you, the government’s coming for you, you’re going to get sent to a concentration camp.”
Jackson had also relived her experience with the anti-vax movement on The Project. Jackson said after quitting the movement she had re-established her ties with her family, got vaccinated and had started a Masters degree in Music.
Jackson’s brave decision to talk about leaving the anti-vax movement was received positively, but according to the campaign page she also faced “a lot of backlash, mostly in the form of transgender hate.”
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.