Get your priorities right
I knew I was a boy from a ridiculously early age. I tried doing ‘girl drag’ here and there. I even grew my hair long a few times, which was more like a bogan mullet. Eventually I reached my limit and over a school holiday period in Year 8, I transformed into the classic tomboy. I returned to school with short hair and pants, which successfully sent all the other kids into shock.
My new look was like a red hot target for everyone’s inner bully. The rest of high school felt like some kind of sick and torturous survival camp. I became hyper vigilant about looking out for potential danger. I was teased and harassed on a daily basis from all angles. Verbal taunts, hate mail in my locker, pushed and punched in the school corridors, excluded from social groups and even manipulated by people posing as friends.
By age eighteen, I was diving over fences to escape being run over by bigger bullies in their cars, who would drive up on the footpath in attempt to hit me. Needless to say, with all of this stress, my mental health suffered and I never felt safe.
The violence didn’t end when school did and I felt like I would die if I remained in Frankston. I had to move to the city, start a new life from scratch. I didn’t mind doing this, because I was drawn to the excitement and the personal revolution that I felt only the city could offer. I haven’t looked back. But I do object to people, especially young people who are vulnerable, being forced to uproot their lives to avoid being bashed or killed. This is still happening right now for many young people and it breaks my heart.
We pump our resources and support into gay marriage and coordinate large scale rallies, all for the aim of replicating a heterosexual normative institution which these days doesn’t really hold the same value anyway. Marriage has become a commercial venture. There is no guarantee that the discrimination and violence will end when gay marriage is inevitably legalised. We will have to wait for the relevant research and analysis to know the actual outcome. Meanwhile, I feel confident in stating that marriage, gay or straight, doesn’t prevent violence.
Homophobic and transphobic fuelled violence is connected to some very complex social issues and our efforts to overcome these issues need to diversify equitably with effective long term strategies involving wider education and support.
Right now in Ballarat there is a young trans person who fears for their safety. They were hospitalised with serious injuries from a deliberate hit and run and they constantly face verbal and physical abuse from people who are threatening to kill them. Our regional and rural kids need our attention and support. They do not have the same level of resources and skills to advocate for themselves. We need to unify and prevent further attacks.
I would love to see prominent and visible queer and trans anti-violence rallies in Ballarat and other regional towns in 2013. Let’s turn our focus to the under represented and under resourced communities who have the highest rate of suicide and a high prevalence of homophobic and transphobic based violence.
Let’s restore community action and rallies to their original purpose and not use them as a vehicle to promote commercialism or social institutions. I don’t know about you, but personally, I’d be saddened for the future of our communities to become ‘four gay cashed up weddings and a funeral’.