Earlier this week, the Tasmanian Parliament voted for new laws which:
- Make it ‘hate speech’ to not use someone’s preferred gender pronouns. More broadly, make it illegal to ‘offend’ or ‘insult’ someone on the basis of their gender expression, which is any behaviour whatsoever if justified by reference to one of the alleged infinite number of genders which have infinite expressions.
- Prohibit discrimination on the basis of same, including discrimination in employment.
- Require a parent to opt-in to have their child’s sex recorded on their birth certificate.
- Allow a person to change the sex listed on their birth certificate by means of a statutory declaration from the age of 16. As for the child under 16, allow their parents to do the same.
Sound familiar? It appears the Tasmanian parliament was inspired by Bill C-16 enacted by the Canadian parliament last year, because repeating the mistakes of history makes total sense. Just ask Lindsay Shepherd, a Canadian graduate student and teaching assistant who became involved in a free-speech / academic-freedom controversy this month last year.
Where does one start with what’s wrong with Tassie’s Brave New Gender World? Well, credit should be given when credit’s due, and there is one (but only one) positive from this debacle: prohibiting discrimination, especially in employment and education. As Ronald Reagan said, the “best social program is a job”, and we might as well add to that, that the best tool to access the best social program is an education. No one should experience unreasonable discriminatory roadblocks to employment or education, even those claiming to be a gender other than male or female (to be clear, there are only two genders). However, this is where the ugliness of the Brave New Gender World begins.
It is not straight-up ‘hate speech’ to not use someone’s preferred gender pronouns. Not using someone’s preferred pronouns could be driven by hate for the individual for reasons relating or not relating to their transgender status. Or driven by a factor other than hate. If anything, this is preferred speech. If someone’s preferred gender pronouns are preferred speech, then misgendering is also preferred speech. Labelling speech as hate speech is, more often than not, soft suppression of speech. Free speech, or freely preferred speech, is the most fundamental human right. It’s sacrosanct, has made the West great, which is why people like immigrating to Western countries.
Freely preferred speech is a two-way street, and hate speech laws violate this principle, fundamental to keep our society functioning. If you’re trans, and someone deliberately misgenders you, you know not to make friends with the misgenderer, and go make friends with people who won’t misgender you. Seriously, you don’t need the law to bully society to meet your needs, that’s not a great way to build understanding between trans and non-trans people. As for people who offend/insult you, such as calling you a ‘tranny’, the same principle applies. And no, debating children’s access to medical transition is not ‘hate speech’, nor is it offending or insulting to trans adults or children. Sure, my childhood sucked because I couldn’t medically transition genders, but that’s in the past, and this is not about me; it’s about children, their future, and good medicine.
I’m slightly more apathetic to sexless birth certificates. My New South Wales Driver Licence doesn’t mark my gender, and that’s been the case for all New South Welsh(wo)men for a long time. No problems here, but what about the source of truth? The binary gender (male and female) is a foundation block of Western society for very obvious reasons that don’t require elaboration in this opinion piece. That alone is reason enough to have a compulsory sex entry on a birth certificate: male or female, and non-specified for intersex folks who are so inclined.
I understand why a sexless birth certificate is important for trans people when job-hunting. When I was job-hunting long-term, to prove my Australian citizenship, I had to provide my birth certificate, which at the time stated male for my sex. It was embarrassing, because I was presenting as a woman, and it potentially gave prospective employers an opportunity to secretly discriminate. However, it makes more sense to compel prospective employers to ask for passports instead of birth certificates, as trans people, since 2011, can have the sex on their passports changed to reflect their presenting gender via doctor’s letters. Besides, some countries outside the West viciously persecute LBGT folks.
On a final note, earlier this year I tried to change the sex listed on my birth certificate from female back to male. I have not detransitioned, I’m still a transwoman, but after some reflection, I felt that my birth certificate could better reflect my personal history. Alas, the NSW Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages wanted me to prove that I’ve medically detransitioned back to male in order to restore my birth certificate. I’m not sad for myself about this outcome, but I am sad that in the eyes of government, biological sex is dead, and multiple genders (to replace the dead) is alive. Welcome to the Brave New Gender World.
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