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The Government, Posie Parker, and Pride 2024

NEWS

Written by Caeden Tipler (they/them) @caedentipler | News Editor



This time a year ago we were reeling from the impact of gender-critical Posie Parker’s arrival in Aotearoa, and her subsequent exit. Her attempt to spew vile transphobia at a public forum had been met with a rallied community, allyship, and noise. Lots and lots of chanting, clapping, screaming, and whistling. She failed to be heard in Albert Park.


Yet this overwhelming show of support for trans communities was not indicative of unwavering support across the motu. Coverage of the day mainly focused on violence from the side of trans people, not the violence committed against them. Future articles would emphasise Parker’s fears about her own safety. But pro-trans protestors were also harassed at the time, and online afterwards. Destiny Church members had intimidated protestors, and even physically attacked Green Party Co-Leader Marama Davidson. Eliana Rubashkyn, who famously dropped tomato juice on Posie Parker, received threats against her life.


Posie Parker left the country and went straight to Twitter. She shared she felt threatened by counter-protestors, that they had put her life in danger. Infamous author JK Rowling tweeted her support for Parker and her disgust at Auckland. Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF) New Zealanders apologised to Parker on the nation’s behalf. It was obvious Posie Parker had left a more divisive Aotearoa than the one she arrived in.


Only a few months on from the Posie Parker incident, we began to see the rise of New Zealand First, making their way back into parliament via transphobic rhetoric. Policies were announced that would exclude trans women from playing sports and using public bathrooms - similar policies to those we have seen coming out of the United States. NZ First candidate Lee Donoghue made anti-trans comments on a national platform during the Re: News Young Voters’ Debate. Donoghue cited far-right talking points about the increase in the number of young people choosing to transition and blamed trans people for the negative mental health statistics associated with trans communities - statistics that have been linked to anti-trans discrimination.


In the beginning of the election cycle, NZ First stagnated below the five percent threshold needed to enter parliament. This harmful rhetoric seemed to have little to no impact. But then the unexpected happened. For the first time, my generation was witnessing queer people being used as a political scapegoat in Aotearoa. And it began to work - New Zealand First became part of the sixth National Government, with just over six percent of the vote.



Where does this leave us for 2024? I spoke to the leaders of Trans on Campus (ToC), the University of Auckland Group for trans and non-binary students. They highlighted that the current situation is not consistent with a fair and free democracy - if trans people are afraid to go outside, introduce themselves by name, or start at new workplaces, then this deserves as much attention as protecting people’s right to freedom of speech.


While National Leader and Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has described the New Zealand First bathroom policy as “on another planet.”, his MP Shane Reti, who supports conversion therapy, is the Minister of Health. Someone who believes we should allow a pseudoscience aiming to erase trans people out of existence is in charge of the bigger picture decisions surrounding trans healthcare. Maybe nothing will get worse under this government, but nothing will improve either.



Trans on campus’s vision for the future is one where things change in the healthcare system, legislation, and people’s knowledge. Some of this, like ending stigmatisation, depends on the public - but a lot of it will depend on this government.


Healthcare, for example, remains one of several key priorities. Trans on Campus says we need better-trained healthcare professionals so trans people do not have to be their own doctor’s teachers, or enforcers of existing guidelines. Surgery wait times are a huge issue - top surgery, for example, is a one to three-year wait in the best-case scenario. It remains difficult to get insurance to cover gender-affirming surgeries, even when this is not the norm overseas.


As we head past February we will hear politicians cite their ongoing support for the LGBTQ+ community. Speeches will be made, pride parades will be attended, and selfies with LGBTQ+ community members will run rampant on political parties’ social media.


But Pride has not been relegated to celebrating achievements of the past but remains an ongoing fight. National needs to consider the policymakers they are in bed with. They may think the rhetoric of New Zealand First can go unnoticed, they may think a Posie Parker situation will not happen again, and they may believe they can attend pride events while ignoring issues important to LGBTQ+ people. But trans communities will be paying attention and know this government cannot have it both ways.


We reached out to New Zealand First to comment, but they have not responded at the time of writing.



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