Dictionary: - Transphobic: A fear of or a dislike directed towards Transgender people, or a fear of or dislike directed towards their perceived lifestyle, culture or characteristics.
This is article is written in attempt to highlight an issue of importance while recognising the statement may not be applicable to individual government members who make up the collective government.
However it is a concept of a behaviour; which, if it was written about a company or organisation instead of a Government would constitute discrimination under the Human rights Act.
Instead it is an observation of the way the National Government collectively attends or appears to, by its actions; the issues of transgender people in New Zealand.
The writer is well aware and thankful that there are many members of parliament cross parties, who are supportive of the rights of transgender people.
The recent government response to having gender identity included in the Human Rights Act would seem to answer the question in the affirmative.
It is acknowledged that Prime Minister John Key has publicly stated and shown his support for the gay community accepting same sex marriage and his attending Big Gay Out events.
National says it supports for LGB; but stops short of including the 'T', transgender!
John Key as head of the Government seems to draw the line at acknowledging the existence or needs of the transgender community; perhaps it is as simple as they have no idea about what it is to be transgender.
Proof provided in a recent statement by Associate Justice Minister Simon Bridges who said the application for gender identity inclusion in the Human Rights Act was denied; stating the reason as: -
“It could generate public debate or controversy”.
Then the Health Minister Jonathan Coleman described funding Gender Reassignment Surgery as a: -
He actually stated further that Labour MPs who support LGBT were: -
"Totally out to lunch"
I think it is reasonably obvious why transgender issue gets nowhere, National seems to be Transphobic and while Labour clearly says it supports LGBT, a recent statement by Grant Robertson indicates it’s is unable to make any change to the situation until it is in Government.
But this issue is not about politics it is about people; it is an issue beyond politics!
The real problem is, a great majority of MPs, like most New Zealanders, just do not understand what it is to be transgender.
Ok, transgender people may have different issues to that of the rest of society but the reality is their condition is not of their making, no one would choose to be transgender; they are born that way.
If being born gay can be accepted even supported in the marriage stakes, what is it that makes it so difficult to accept and support transgender people? New Zealand supports discrimination against all people orientated conditions except one, gender identity, the right to be who you are.
The associate Justice Minister said it was about controversy and public debate. That seems very much like a smoke and mirrors answer. Talking mirrors - maybe the minister does not have one, at least not one like mine, which must have been broken for over half a century as everyday it told me I was male, when I was really female!
Sorry if that is too confusing for some, but it is the reality of being transgender.
Taking this article to a personal level - let's cut the crap and get down close and personal so that everyday folk can understand the issue.
I was conceived 75 years ago, when I was born, the doctor who did not really know for sure, told my mum when he saw bits of me that should never have been there in the first place, that I was a boy, yippee! Problem was nobody thought to ask me; actually kids did not talk at birth then, so he is forgiven, thinking about that, still don't, could have really made a difference. "Note to God, make kids talk at birth".
As I grew up, everybody said I was a boy, took me a while to realise that was wrong even the mirror lied. Also in those days nobody would have listened to my story as kids were only meant to be seen, never mind talk, anyway everyone said I was a boy so I must have been.
Life for me was confusing, painful and scary, then I realised it was more scary to talk about it, people who did not understand often killed, and locked away people like me in intuitions, even mums and dads sometimes abandoned their kids to the street. Still do sadly.
Move forward 50 odd years and I realised I was not on my own with this problem there are thousands of others like me. Actually not so many really compared to the rest of the population. Times had changed; finally something called Gender Confirmation Surgery was available, giving me a way to get my body's sex to be what my mind had always told me it should be, female.
Did I care about surgery at my age, was I scared? Hell no. Not as scary as a lifetime of silence, although you don’t realise it at the time. Anyway I was never happy with the male body; it was a lie, it was never me, thought about getting rid of it many times. What could I lose; I went to Thailand for my surgery found out that it was not a big deal to them, and superb care. At 67 my male bits gone forever, I became like most people, 'living my truth'.
As to the Minister’s comments on controversy, I would point out that since my transition nobody is bothered, mostly after the initial shock, (no shock horror) by the way, society it seems has no problem, in fact quite the opposite.
Maybe there might some religious bigots out there who might debate what I have done, truth is, the only person my transition affected was me, and maybe my family who have adjusted in the same way everybody does to a new situation.
So please Minister and the New Zealand Government show us National is not Transphobic!
Let us be who we are, the sky will not fall, no controversy, I have faith that the New Zealand public will more likely wonder why you have singled us out and denied us our rights. As we ask for no more than they have, but for our survival it is important you correct the omission in the Human Rights Act, and anyway it only affects a few of us.
And if you believe you govern for all New Zealanders and you take youth suicide seriously. Maybe you don’t understand that worldwide, transgender youth rates, highest in the statistics for suicide, and New Zealand has the highest rate for youth suicide in the world, really you don’t have to be Einstein to work out why. Of course you will not have any such New Zealand statistics because you do not record them and our laws regarding publication of suicide details are outdated, wonder why?
Compared to other health costs Gender Confirmation Surgery is minimal, and while it may need surgeons skilled in the procedure, very competent ones can be found overseas that have performed them in world class hospitals.
The question that should be asked is why you would even think of trying to provide this kind of surgery in New Zealand, when it involves so few patients. (Current waiting list 62) When overseas success is virtually guaranteed: at a price that is cost effective, done by surgeons that routinely performs these kinds of operations.
To my mind this is truly spending the tax dollar wisely, while at the same time allowing vital surgery necessary to save a life.
Oops! Editing this just made realise it might just be controversial after all!
- Diane Sparkes is a retired teacher who is now a transgender advocate
Diane Sparkes - 2nd June 2015
Diane Sparkes - 2nd June 2015