Trans-rights advocates are calling for stronger anti-discrimination laws after an Australia-first report revealed how quickly anti-trans sentiment is escalating in this country.
The Fuelling Hate report, published on Tuesday, is the largest-ever investigation into anti-trans hate in Australia and compiles data from more than 3000 survey responses.
The results show one in two trans Australians has experienced some form of hate in the last 12 months alone, and one in six has experienced violence.
Nine out of 10 trans respondents also said they had seen anti-trans hate messages or comments online in the past 12 months.
The report also found anti-trans abuse, harassment, and violence was escalating rapidly. A stark increase was reported in the two months preceding the survey, coinciding with anti-trans personality Kellie-Jay Keen’s Australian tour and her rally in Melbourne which was attended by a group of neo-nazis. About a quarter of respondents said they’d experienced “more or significantly more” abuse, harassment or violence in that time.
Navindra Alexander, a Brisbane trans woman, told the report she had been attacked in Sydney earlier this year during Mardi Gras celebrations.
“In Sydney around Mardi Gras me and my friends we got followed and harassed and it actually turned into a brawl,” she said.
“We had left a ball and were about to go to another event and as we were waiting outside the club these guys started coming up to one of the girls and started harassing them, and like filming us. It turned into a big thing where they were yelling bible verses at us and trying to taunt us. It very quickly then unfolded into a full-on fist fight.”
“I had been to Sydney before and it hadn’t been that bad. We’re still seeing protests happening against the LGBTIQ+ community that are still ongoing from March, there are still people getting bashed. And bashings have always happened but it’s definitely been on the increase since March.”
Jackie Turner, Director of the Trans Justice Project which published the report, said trans lives were increasingly under attack in Australia.
“The fuelling of hate by the anti-trans lobby has to be stopped. We are urging Federal and State governments across the country to take decisive action to curb extremism and protect our communities from hate”.
She also said the majority of Australians do support trans and gender diverse people having the same rights and protections as everyone else and the attacks were coming from a fringe but very vocal group and more needed to be done to stop these sentiments from growing.
The Victorian government has flagged new anti-vilification laws will be introduced next year. But the report has recommended and called for that legislation to be fast tracked.
“Next year is too late. Anti-trans hate groups are more brazen than they have ever been before and our communities are bearing the impact,” Austin Fabrey-Jenkins, a spokesperson for the Victorian Pride Lobby, said.
The report also recommended that media regulations be bolstered to ensure news outlets that promote anti-trans disinformation are held accountable, and that more funding be given to community-led de-radicalisation interventions and further research into the causes and impacts of anti-trans abuse, and strategies for addressing it.
Aleksandra Bliszczyk is the Deputy Editor of VICE Australia. Follow her on Instagram.