The recent incident involving Australian Senator Lidia Thorpe at an anti-trans rally in Canberra has thrown a spotlight on the pervasive issue of gendered violence in our society. The rally, led by controversial British anti-transgender public speaker Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker, highlights the global reach of anti-transgender sentiments and activism. As feminist anthropologist Rita Segato posits, gendered violence is not merely limited to physical violence against women, but encompasses a broader system of power relations that perpetuate inequality and oppression.
The appalling treatment of Senator Thorpe, a sitting Senator and respected community leader, serves as a prime example of how this system manifests through police brutality and the suppression of marginalised voices. While attempting to counter the vitriolic rhetoric of anti-trans activists, Senator Thorpe was met with disrespect and aggression by law enforcement officials. It is important to consider whether a male senator or even the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, would have been subjected to such treatment by the police or security personnel. This stark difference in treatment raises questions about the role that gender and power dynamics play in these situations.
This insidious form of gendered violence extends beyond physical altercations, encompassing the ways in which marginalized groups are routinely silenced, and their experiences dismissed or invalidated. The anti-trans rally in Canberra claimed to champion "women's rights" while blatantly disregarding the rights and experiences of trans women, who are among the most marginalised and vulnerable members of our society.
Bolivian activist María Galindo's idea that polarisation leads to fascism resonates in this context, as the divisive rhetoric employed by activists like Posie Parker threatens to further marginalise and oppress transgender individuals. In the face of growing anti-trans activism, it is crucial for society to stand in solidarity with transgender individuals and push back against the harmful rhetoric that seeks to further oppress them.
It is essential to question what other senators and parliament members are doing in response to the treatment of Senator Thorpe by the police. Whether or not they agree with her opinions, they must consider if they condone such behavior by law enforcement.
In solidarity with Senator Thorpe and all those advocating for justice and equality, we must unite to build a world where each individual is valued and respected, irrespective of their gender identity or expression. Together, we can challenge the systems of oppression that enable gendered violence and work towards a more equitable society for all.