Just when some trans people and their families might have hoped it was safe to start going back in the water of ordinary life, the ABC stir up the dangerous waves again. Coming on top of the extraordinary 'no' campaign assault on gender diversity during the postal survey, its seems mainstream media seek to learn few lessons. Last night's showing (27 November 2017) of the BBC documentary Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? was a striking case in point. Its initial showing (in the UK in January 2017) was strongly opposed and then vigorously criticised by many authoritative voices in the UK, including Trans Media Watch who made a formal complaint to the BBC questioning whether it had breached its own code of conduct. Such protests rightly raised a plethora of issues, not least the alarmist commentary and space given to isolated and pernicious 'experts' whose views have long been discredited by their peers and left behind by modern medical, psychological and pastoral authorities and practice. Knowing all this, why then did the ABC repeat the BBC's own mistakes in the face of a transgender community still reeling from recent affronts? Was it a false sense of 'balance', perhaps justified in some strange thinking of ABC minds by the repeat showing of another BBC offering immediately beforehand in Louis Theroux's 2015 documentary Transgender Kids? Whether yes or no, it reflects major problems with media handling of transgender issues today...
Here is a special prayer I have written for the Transgender Day of Remembrance (20 Nov) and as a contribution for other occasions in the next few days - picking up the beautiful poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins 'As KIngsfisher's Catch Fire' (full text here) which will be part of our special gathering at Holy Trinity Fortitude Valley this year (see flyer also below). Further excellent resources compiled by Susan Gilchrist can be found here.
How will we respond, in this trans awareness month, to the backlash gender diverse people have been facing? In Australia the postal survey has been particularly difficult for trans and gender diverse people. We have suffered all that the LGBTI+ community as a whole has endured, as our lives, bodies and mental health have been put on the line. In addition however, we have experienced a powerful, determined and unprecedented coordinated attack on our very existence and identities, with very little scope for response. For, frequently ignoring the actual postal survey question altogether, the 'no' campaign has spent so much of its time and money on whipping up fear through attacks on us and associated 'issues' like the vital initiatives of Safe Schools. Understandably the 'yes' campaign has been reluctant to be drawn into this, preferring to stick to its clear strategy of addressing the substantive marriage issues. This has left many trans and gender diverse people, not only in a war zone with other LGBTI+ people, but feeling quite defenceless at times. For many of us have been strengthened and immensely grateful for the support of our lesbian, gay and bi sisters and brothers, and many allies. Yet general awareness has been set back in many quarters and momentum gained by those who oppose us. So how will we move forward again together?...
What does remembering mean for gender diverse people and the body of Christ? I ask that question because, on this All Saints Day, we begin a period of remembrance in both church and world: not least of saints, heroes and role models; of loved ones departed; of the destruction of war; and (in the Transgender Day of Remembrance on 20 November) of transgender and gender diverse people murdered across the globe. My sense is that these things are not unconnected and that they come together because (whatever kind of spirituality we have) all human beings need some dedicated time and space in the cycles of the seasons to engage in what is the 'sacred' task of re-membering. November works, globally, for us all in this: for in the southern hemisphere it marks the drawing to the close of the working year and, in the northern, it marks the coming of the darkness of winter. Not for nothing have human beings also traditionally begun preparing for a mid or end of year festival of light and celebration (known variously but to most today as Christmas). To do that properly however - particularly where death, violence, loss, grief and/or family separation are still real - we need to re-member. So what truths, healing and fresh purpose are we seeking to affirm, and receive, in this, as gender diverse people?...
The Revd Dr Jo Inkpin: