To kick off our Pride issue we got AUSA Queer Rights Officer Theo to take the lead. So shut up, sit down and listen, because they have something important to say.
When elected as AUSA’s Queer Rights Officer, nothing can prepare you for the moment when hate decides to amass on your doorstep. Albert park and its rotunda where so many of us students congregate, socialise and escape uni, turned into the stage for a targeted campaign against our transgender and gender diverse communities. For the University of Auckland’s rainbow student community, the rally organised by Kelly Jay Kean Minshull was not only a national security threat, it was an attack on our home—and nothing gives me more Pride than witnessing how the AUSA Queer Student Council rose to the occasion to protect its students.
The Posie Parker rally demonstrated that transgender and gender diverse hatred is rising in New Zealand. Her rally masked a much more dangerous presence; the poisonous ideologies of alt right identities like Brian Tamaki and organisations like Vision New Zealand that use the most brutal tactics to advance their views. I witnessed this in the bursts of violence that erupted when Vision NZ tried to force their way up Queen Street. I saw it when a group of drag queens rushed to defend their sister against a man supporting “Let Women Speak”. In many ways, the Posie Parker rally was an entrée to a much broader confrontation— a battle for the heart and soul of New Zealand.
To all the women that supported Let Women Speak, I ask, do you honestly see yourself in the future that Vision NZ pictures? If right wing ideologies continually assault our rights, do you honestly believe that yours aren’t next? It is disheartening to witness how genuine styles of feminism have been hijacked by traditionalists, manoeuvred as a pawn on a chess board, when the player has no interest in your prosperity or your future.
You see, I passionately believe that 1893 Women’s Suffrage laid New Zealand’s constitutional foundations toward a universal equitable future, paving the way to milestones such as Homosexual Law Reform and Marriage Equality. It was the spark that ignited a revolution in New Zealand’s social fabric across a century, eventually becoming the jewel in the crown that is our nation’s international reputation. The actions of a small group of women inspired a generation. Once again, in this time of need, we need that authenticity, because Women’s equity is a piece of our national spirit that empowers Aotearoa to be an inclusive and loving society.
But equally I fear for you. Because we’ve been sleeping. The ideologies of groups like Vision NZ demonstrate that there is a wound in the fabric of multicultural societies that reaches out like rust, touching everything. We have enjoyed our equitable national reputation within the covid cocoon, we kept our borders closed, and with the arrival of Poise Parker on our shores, now those views are here, and they want to stay. Prejudice is a disease that thrives off ignorance, it is never more alive than when we sleep.
That is why we must stand up against the advances of transphobia because an attack on one section of the community is an attack on us all. Identity, experiences, and perspectives never exist in silos and if the rights and dignity of one of us fall, it weakens the whole, the credibility of all minorities. That credibility arguably started with Women’s Suffrage and was intergenerationally built upon brick by brick. I can imagine it is probably easy for a white gay man to tell you to fight for your rights when writing a column from behind a desk, but as QRO, March 26th showed me that the rainbow community cannot win this fight alone. The fight against discrimination is really one for all minorities for our nation’s future, and transphobia is one tool in a range of many that is used to asphyxiate our prosperity.