I thought I’d share a speech/presentation I gave last year at Health in Difference 8. Unfortunately, the audio recording didn’t quite work; I hope the words can at least give the sense of sense of vision and possibility. And a few things have changed since, but I’ll post it as it was delivered.
I acknowledge the original inhabitants of the land, the people of the Kulin nation, and pay my respects to elders past and present.
Hang on Doc, before we get going, shouldn’t we make sure we have…paperwork?
Wow, that’s awesome…hey Doc, just looking around there’s a really busy counter and a really empty counter over there. What’s that about?
That was because once trans and intersex people were really able to get full say in the equal marriage debate, Australia finally got equal marriage for couples regardless of sex, gender identity or intersex status. People were horrified when they heard that just because someone’s body was considered a tiny bit different to so-called ideals of male or female that some intersex people couldn’t marry at all. The good networks built by intersex and allies with a range of lawyers built an impeccable argument that was a game-changer for the whole marriage debate. The vote in Parliament was hugely in favour. The celebrations were huge. And people had 4 spare Saturdays every year because they didn’t have to go to marriage rallies any more.
Any way, next stop…Broome, WA. There’s a person who lives in Hobart, identifies as genderqueer and who’s unfortunately got a dose of tummy trouble while on holidays – I’ll tell you which cafe to avoid later. Anyway, they’re off to the local GP for some medication.
Not any more. Granted this was a huge problem 10 years ago. So intersex, trans and gender diverse decided on an all out approach from both the top down and the grass roots up. They networked the top brass in the AMA and similar bodies. They found every GP they knew and got them up to speed on intersex, trans and gender diverse…and then got those professionals to nominate one other health professional who they thought would be interested in learning as well. Health professionals who were also University lecturers around the country caught on and made sure that intersex, trans and gender diverse was considered throughout all of medical and psych studies and not just tucked into a corner for an hour. The conservatives in the health profession who showed prejudice against this ended up looking dated. See they’ve got their antibiotics and are on their way to enjoy the rest of their break.
Medical types used to be pretty binary on children who were deemed to be intersex at birth as well. Did that change?
For sure! Let’s pop up to the parental ward at the local hospital…see that paper on the wall? It lists contact details for intersex representatives who can make sure every parent or guardian gets to talk with intersex people before making any decisions about surgeries. Giving parents a free and informed choice where intersex comes up at birth is now compulsory for every hospital in Australia. After comprehensive protection of intersex went through the Tasmanian and Federal parliaments in 2013, other states and territories steadily followed. The combination of law and education of health professionals has made a huge difference.
Off we go again…
Hey this looks a bit gloomy…it’s a jail!
We needed to come here. People used to be housed pretty much on a surgical basis often with tragic results. Now, following some overseas models, every intersex, trans or gender diverse person who sadly ends up in custody is housed on their merits allowing for their wellbeing, with respect to the person’s own input, the wellbeing of others in custody and custodial staff. An intersex, trans or gender diverse person sits on a committee along with prison brass and grass roots staff and helps work out the best course of action. Violence against these groups in custody has dropped by 75%, STIs amongst them by 90%. There’s at a least a more equal chance of getting a fresh start after custody. The shock-jocks still try to make a big deal out of it though…unfortunately some things haven’t changed.
Can we go somewhere a little brighter now?
Sure…he we are: Charleville primary school and the happy recess playground.
OK, let me try this time Doc. I can see kids of what looks like lots of gender identities playing kick to kick on the oval and others, also of lots of gender identities just quietly chatting nearby and it’s all good…one of the year six students is talking with friends about starting puberty blockers next month…the friends are sharing the excitement…awesome…
You’re getting it Marty. Educations departments, schools and principals realised that affirming people in every way was important, it helped make classes happier and more interesting as well as being better of course for the students. Bottling things up never helped. And that year six student’s 2 dads don’t have to spend thousands going to the family court to prove what the family already knew. Thank the brave family who went to court to challenge that and change things.
Not any more. A good combination of getting the government to work with private health insurers meant the out of pocket costs that used to be huge are now far less…at least no more than for other people who stay in hospital for an equivalent length of time for any other operation, which ended up as a fair and equitable outcome.
Oh don’t worry, there’s still lots of parties; where the parties are fundraisers there are lots of ideas to keep building intersex, trans and gender diverse communities so they go to greater heights. Let’s go to a party now…
Lots of people having fun together here…
…and look, there’s a trans woman who hasn’t had surgery yet who seems to have just met a special someone. They’re off home. Thanks to all the sex positive education that was fully inclusive, people now know how to have safe, consensual and respectful intimacy with anyone of any body or any identity. More love in the world and less loneliness…that’s the power of love…it’s all good.
The recruitment consultant’s just totally turned past those pages in the report.
Why are you setting the time machine to go to 1973 Doc? ….Police strip searching trans women to see what underwear they have on underneath their outer clothes? Amazingly gifted people who can’t get the job they want? Rows of homeless trans people facing alcohol and drug abuse? What do we want to be reminded of this for?
In which case, I’m setting the time machine for 2.30 PM 18 April 2013.
I hope that ride to the future proved we can help achieve healthier bodies and healthier minds, not only for intersex, trans and gender diverse people, rather for everyone in every stream whose lives we discuss in the next 2 and ½ days. Maybe there was some artistic licence in that trip to the future and some of the ideas. That’s OK. In the words of Einstein – the human one – “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” With imagination, innovation, love and hope, I wish everyone every success in building on our strengths for HiD 8 – and to quote the final words of Back to The Future 3, “your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.”
PS. With a Victorian state election coming, there’s a chance to make the future on some of these issues! Watch this space...