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The Epidemic of Homophobia

By Jess Burgess

Bee Love Slater- Photo: Facebook

Transphobia is a rampant issue in our world. A violent and hate filled issue affecting thousands everyday. It was only a month ago that American police were investigating the killing of a transgender woman in Florida, USA. Bee Love Slater’s death was the 18th of a transwoman this year alone. The American Medical Association described the situation as an epidemic of violence against trans people. The gruesome details initially were that Slater was bound and shot but officers have since told the Miami Herald “there’s no evidence” for such a conclusion, “since the vehicle was set on fire and the body burned beyond recognition.'' This sort of violence against trans people is shockingly common. The life expectancy of these women is only 35 years of age, more than half that of the rest of the American population.

But what is the situation like here at home? What are the lives of the LGBTQ+ community like in Australia? Are we victims to violence as much as our American counterparts?

Australia is the only country in the world where children under 18 have to go through the Family Court system to access ‘stage two’ hormone treatments - the ingestion of oestrogen or testosterone (stage one being puberty blockers, which can be prescribed without court approval). This causes the medical expense of being trans to grow to a ridiculously high amount, making being trans even harder on some families.

Last year, our own prime minister, Scott Morrison, tweeted in response to a Daily Telegraph article on trans children, saying, “We do not need ‘gender whisperers’ in our schools. Let kids be kids.” He was quickly shot down by the LGBTQ+ community. One quote that stood out from all the others came from a trans person, a mere 13 years of age and already standing loud and proud for their community, saying “I went to a Christian school where I had to pretend to be a boy and spent weeks in conversion therapy. We get one childhood, and mine was stolen from me by attitudes like this.”

This is not a modern-day issue. This violence and discrimination dates back centuries. Centuries of oppression. Centuries of hate and centuries of violence. The roots of such discrimination is seen in Australia’s own colonial past.

Penitentiary at Port Arthur, Tasmania by Martybugs CC

In colonial Australia, same-sex relationships among convicts were considered the most serious threat to a lawful society. In the single-sex prisons built in the early 1800s, the only thing that got the prisoners through the awful conditions they were trapped in, was love. The innocent act of love. It is hard for some to imagine being hated for loving another, but it is a reality even in our society today. The officials of these prisons went to extreme lengths to separate these couples. They sent some to other prisons, tearing their partner away from them, leaving some hundreds of kilometres apart.

The “issue” of these couples is believed to be one of the main driving factors that led to the end of convict transportation to Australia. There was a fear that Australia would be “forever stained by the sin of Sodom.” A rhetoric that is still continued in some hate-filled circles.

The fact that homophobia is so deeply-rooted is not that surprising to many. The same homophobia is present today, just expressed in a different, more “politically-correct” way. In words such as “I love you, but I don’t agree with your sinful lifestyle.” or in more dangerous acts of violence and hate, such as kids being kicked out of home for who they are, the threat of death, the denial of medicine, and the denial to simply change one’s own birth certificate to accurately represent the gender they are. This is not just discrimination. This is a breach of basic human rights, and things need to drastically change.

Photo by Nicholas Swatz

* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Woke magazine.


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