Marriage Equality Rally, 27 November, Gina Wilson speaks

Gina Wilson spoke at the recent Marriage Equality rally in Sydney.

Board member Karin also took photographs of the event:

Speech by Gina Wilson, OII Australia president

Welcome! Today we have gathered to insist on the right of all people to marry irrespective of sex or gender.

The call for this right is often characterized as a call for “gay ” or “same-sex marriage” but that’s only a part of the story.

The reason those rights are denied to us who are LGBTI or Q is because of the fears and phobias held by a minority of our fellow citizens.

Those fears and phobias do not stop at the denial of human rights such as the right to marry – they also result in overt acts of hatred and violence against us.

Those of us who most challenge perceptions of sex and gender normality are more likely than most to be the subject of violence, hatred, rejection and isolation.

At the root of that violence is an unreasonable insistence that the only legitimate relationships in society are those that can be had by people who are unambiguously men with those who are unambiguously women.

November is a special month for two groups of people within the LGBTQI movement for equal rights – two groups who are subjected to the highest levels of violence and rejection then consequent depression and suicide of any of Australian disadvantaged minorities.

November the 8th marks the Intersex Day of Remembrance. The date is Herculine Barbin’s birthday.

Herculine was an intersex woman who lived in the mid-1800s. Herculine was reassigned as male when her apparent lesbian affair was discovered by her lover’s mother.

Rather than endure the scandal of a lesbian relationship, Herculine’s lover revealed Herculine’s intersex.

A confession with the local priest followed, then a medical inspection and a reassignment.

The lesbian scandal was averted – six months later, the now Hercules committed suicide rather than live an imposed and impossible sex assignment.

November 28th marks the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

That day recalls the death of Rita Hester who was murdered in Alston Massachusetts on November the 28th, 1998.

Rita was stabbed twenty times in the chest while alone in her home.

This horrific abuse was meted out to Rita because of her differences – differences that could not be lived with without physical acknowledgment on her part or be tolerated on the part of the society she lived in.

Sadly, Rita’s story is not unique – it is nonetheless a cairn, a slash on a dig tree that marks the spot where the dashed hopes of all those who followed and those who preceded her are measured from.

It is also the place where gains, in the face of terrible adversity, might likewise be measured against and acknowledged.

Recent studies have shown that 40% of all transgender and transsexual individuals have attempted suicide at sometime in their lives, more than 60% have been subjected to direct violence and 80% to overt acts of discrimination.

Intersex are thought to fare as badly though no comprehensive studies into intersex disadvantage have yet been made.

People who are known to be trans or intersex have amongst the highest levels of unemployment and employment discrimination in Australia with rates at least twice the national average – the Gender Centre reports rates higher than 60%.

Those who transition or are thought to be trans or genderqueer will rarely be given the opportunity to reach their full employment potential.

If your trans or intersex can be hidden, if it is possible to live a stealth life, acceptance and the wherewithal to keep house and home together might be yours.

The cost is a perpetual denial of self and the constant fear of discovery.

How familiar to all who might be LGBTI or Q is that dreadful life!

I ask you now to join with me in acknowledging all of those intersex and trans who have been subjected to phobic violence, who have been forced to live in circumstances so dreadful that death is sometimes preferable to life.

Who are tragically isolated from us in their despair.

Please join me in one minute’s silence as a mark of respect for both the intersex and the transgender days of remembrance.

Thank you.

There is no need to remind you how far LGBTIQ have come in our struggle against homophobic oppression.

But perhaps we need to keep our minds, however busy and distracted, however joyous when victories are won, as marriage equality surely will be that we need to keep our minds on the only possible acceptable outcome from this struggle – equal rights, the right to live our lives free from fear and violence.

No compromises, no exemptions, nothing short of full, complete, absolute, equal rights for every Australian for every one of us here, for all of those parts that are LGBTI or Q.

Equal rights for all and no one left behind!