But what about all those terrible things that happened in other countries after marriage equality?

What about them indeed?

I’ve been seeing a bunch of lists doing the rounds recently of how legalising Same Sex Marriage in other countries has led to the abridgement of free speech and a loss of rights in those countries for Christians and other people who believe that human beings come in two immutable flavours, pink and blue, and that marriages should contain one of each colour.

Now, I’m not 100% that this argument is relevant, because we do, in fact, have a pretty socially conservative government, and the draft legislation that has been circulated at various times recently has all contained quite significant protections for freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  But I also know that there are some people who are genuinely afraid that marriage equality will lead to drastic and negative social change – that it will be the start of a slippery slope into a world where we are forbidden to talk of gender or notice differences between the sexes, and where religious organisations will be forced to bow to secular laws of this nature.

So let’s see what’s really going on in these countries, shall we?

The list below is not comprehensive, and it is far from the only one out there, but it had the advantage of coming with links to articles supporting its statements, so it seemed like a good place to start.

Warning: this is super long – 8,000 words – and I wrote it in one sitting.  There will be typos.  And sarcasm, because I really, really regretted ever starting this before I was done.  Also, I will probably switch off comments after a few days, because I’m heading off to Europe, and it’s difficult to moderate conversations across timezones.  And I really feel like I’ve said all I can possibly say about this article at this point (8,000 words, remember).

Good luck.  And don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Oh Canada…

If you say or write anything considered “homophobic” (including, by definition, anything questioning same-sex marriage), you could face discipline, termination of employment, or prosecution by the government. – see more: http://bit.ly/2gdyBwq

This is an opinion piece by a Canadian writer warning Americans about the perils of legislating marriage equality.  It doesn’t refer to any specific laws, but refers to lots of individual cases.  I’m going to deal with these pretty briefly, or this article will wind up being the length of a PhD thesis.

The article claims that the Lev Tahor Sect left Canada because of religious persecution.  However, the source it links to says that in fact the sect had been accused of child abuse, and that’s why they left.  (And yes, accusations can be false, but the line ‘one of the children was a mother to a young child herself’ is rather chilling in this context.)  Freedom of speech does not seem to have been the main issue here.

The article claims that the state can override the autonomy of biological parents. This links to an opinion piece about how the real endgame for marriage equality is to abolish marriage, and that state recognition of family autonomy cannot exist without traditional marriage.  (I really thought that this was going to be one about schools, rather than parents, choosing what children would learn.)  Honestly, I don’t think this opinion piece does what the article says it does.  But I also don’t think it’s particularly relevant to the argument in Australia.

The article claims that Bill Whatcott was arrested for distributing leaflets against homosexuality.  This is true, but this happened after he had been asked to leave the university and he was found not guilty in any case.  So yes, a university (not the State) asked for him to be removed for speaking freely, as is their right, since freedom of speech does not mean you can say what you like wherever you like with no consequences.  And then no further action was taken against him.

The article claims that materials deemed ‘hateful’ can be confiscated at the border.  This one appears to be true.  Though I do wonder why, if one has been summoned to Canada to defend oneself in a trial on charges for causing ‘mischief’ by protesting homosexuality at a public university, one would think it was a good idea to carry propaganda films supporting this viewpoint in one’s luggage.  It seems needlessly provocative.  (Especially since La Barbera claims that the DVD in question is freely available on YouTube in Canada – which suggests that actually, any censorship going on is either not all that effective, or limited to people who have already shown themselves to be nuisances in this regard.)

Could this happen in Australia?  Well, none of the cases referred to above suggest that people are being disciplined, losing their jobs or being prosecuted for being homophobic, so it’s a bit hard to answer that question. But OK, let’s go with the letter of the statement. I think it’s pretty unlikely under the current government.  We have an attorney general who thinks that people have ‘a right to be a bigot‘, and there are ongoing attempts to wind back parts of anti-discrimination law that refer to vilification. But in the future?  I do think that sooner or later we will wind up with laws about homophobia that are similar to our current laws around racism.  But I think that’s going to happen regardless of what happens with marriage equality over the next few years.

I do think it’s worth noting that in all the cases mentioned above, either the person in question was found not guilty, or there were other things going on.  The odds of getting sent to jail on the basis of a single slur are low.  If it’s a pattern of behaviour, you’re likely to be in more trouble.

Transgenders represent approximately 0.3% of Canadians, yet the government has mandated the use of pronouns (such as che/zhe/chir/zir) for transgenders and failure to address transgenders with their preferred pronouns will result in fines. See more: http://bit.ly/2vfXC0w

False.  Or at least, wildly extrapolated from very little evidence. This link refers to Canada’s Bill C-16 which was passed on October 18, 2016.  You can read it here. It’s quite short. The bill ‘amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.’  There is no reference to pronouns of any kind in the bill, and it certainly does not say anything about how you should address transgender people.  It does say that evidence that an offense was motivated by bias or prejudice based on sexual identity is something the court must take into consideration when sentencing.

The full Human Rights Act is here. It also says nothing about pronouns.  It does forbid harrassment on the grounds of sexual identity, and it talks about reasonable accommodations.  I would imagine that using someone’s preferred pronoun would generally be a reasonable accommodation.  There is no mention of fines, but presumably yes, if you are harrassing someone or failing to accommodate them, there would be legal consequences.  Getting someone’s pronoun wrong on a one-off basis is highly unlikely to be viewed as harrassment by any court.  Deliberately using the pronoun you think they should use when it is not the one they prefer in order to make a point?  That might get you in trouble.  And frankly, so it should.  You aren’t helping them by doing that.  You aren’t going to make them suddenly realise that they were wrong about their gender identity.  All you are going to do is hurt their feelings for the sake of feeling right.

Could this happen in Australia? See my answer to the previous statement.  Eventually, I would say, but the good news is that as far as pronouns are concerned it’s fairly easy to avoid getting in trouble by simply being polite.  It does not hurt you to refer to someone by their preferred pronoun, but If you absolutely can’t cope with this, you can always use their name instead.

Canadian Schools Now Pushing “LGGBDTTTIQQAAPP” inclusivity training – see here: http://bit.ly/2gaTGHU

Unclear.

This one was hard to track down.  I found lots of people talking about it, but all of them seemed to have got their information from the link above.  I then visited the website of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (which is where this flyer purports to come from), to see what they had to say.  They do have a bunch of bits and pieces about welcoming and supporting LGBTQ families (and LGBTQ is the acronym they use), but nothing about a workshop such as the one above.  Next, I checked the website for the Durham branch, and couldn’t find anything on LGBTQ issues at all.  I’d also note that the email address was quite different to the one on the form, though the rest of the contact information on the letterhead was correct.  However, the leaflet seems to have been from last year, so things may have changed since then.

Frankly, I strongly suspect that this is a hoax or a joke, but I can’t prove it either way.  I’d note that whether it is true or not, the alphabet soup above might seem a little silly, but it’s hardly a threat to anyone.  Being aware of how students might view themselves and their sexuality is… really OK, I think.  Even if you think half of those things are wrong, well, knowing where someone is coming from is going to help you have a conversation with them, and that’s not a bad thing.

Could this happen in Australia?  Well, we already have Safe Schools, so technically yes.  But you aren’t going to affect this with your vote on marriage equality.  (Incidentally, I wrote about Safe Schools here.  It’s nowhere near as over the top as it tends to be painted.)

Canada introduces ‘X’ as third gender option on passports hailed as an “important step towards advancing equality for all Canadians regardless of gender identity or expression” – see more: http://nyti.ms/2xtN4Iv

Yep, this one’s true.

Could this happen in Australia? Probably.  Is it going to affect you?  Not unless you are non-binary. Nobody is saying that you, personally have to put an X on your passport.  All they are saying is that if someone doesn’t identify as male or as female, they don’t have to pick one on the passport form.

(Also, it has nothing to do with marriage equality.  The current survey asks if two people of the same sex should be allowed to marry.  It says nothing about whether people who are intersex or genderqueer should have to tick a box saying M or F on forms.)

Radical sex education teaching children that their gender is fluid. – see more: http://bit.ly/2wtIQTF

Sort of true.

The article refers to Ontario, which is clearly where it’s all happening. Let me start by saying that I have a serious problem with this article and how it characterises some aspects of the curriculum.  Specifically, the author seems to have an issue with teaching Grade 1 students the correct names for their genitalia.  Teaching children the proper names for their body parts (and that their bodies belong to them) is important and empowering, particularly in situations of abuse.  If a child doesn’t know what things are called, it’s harder for them to tell people what has happened to them, and their disclosures can be misunderstood or misinterpreted, putting them at risk of further harm.  Ignorance helps abusers, not children.

But I digress. The curriculum can be found here.   The offending section is, I believe, the sentence saying that ‘gender identity is different from sexual orientation and may be different from birth-assigned sex.’  Gender identity is also one of the things that is raised that a child might be being bullied about.

Is this radical?  I suspect this depends how you view gender.

Could it happen in Australia?  See Safe Schools.  It’s happening, and it has nothing to do with marriage equality.

Teachers in Ontario have been told to keep child’s transgenderism from parents – see more: http://bit.ly/2xlZD8S

Ah, Ontario, you haven of radical leftist social engineers, you!

This one is true. Here’s the rationale for it:

Some students who identify as transgender are not openly so at home because of safety and/or other reasons. A school shall not disclose a student’s gender status to the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s) without the student’s explicit prior consent (emphasis added).

It’s about safety.  The reality is, not all parents react well when they discover a child is gay or transgender, and some react violently or abusively.

The article is really concerned about parents’ rights, and asks the question ‘Do kids belong to parents, or do they belong to the state?’.  Now, I can understand how parents might feel hurt and upset that something this important is being hidden from them.  But this is not about the state owning children.  The regulation doesn’t say ‘schools must not disclose a student’s gender status under any circumstances’, it only says that it can’t do so without that child’s consent.

In other words, the regulation makes the radical assumption that children belong to nobody but themselves.

(I’m not being sarcastic, it is quite radical. I think it’s also a really good idea, but that’s another matter.)

Look.  A child who identifies as transgender at school but not at home is… using a different name and wearing different clothes at school, maybe.  They aren’t taking any hormones or having surgery or delaying puberty.  There is nothing irreversible going on here.  There is nothing that can’t change if a child changes their mind. But a regulation like this gives a child a safe place to explore who they are and a support network if their parents do turn out to be among that minority who will be abusive in response to a disclosure of being transgender.

Could this happen in Australia?  Very probably.  Children can already see a doctor without parental consent, suggesting that the law already agrees that they have rights beyond their parents’ wishes.  So I don’t think it’s impossible that schools in Australia might reach similar conclusions.  Again, this has nothing to do with marriage equality, and is already based in existing rights.

The state can seize your child if you you refuse to raise him/her according to the gender that they identify as. – see more: http://bit.ly/2wdVxPU

Oh look, it’s Ontario again.  I’m beginning to think Ontario is the sister city of the People’s Republic of Moreland.

False.  This article refers to Bill 89, Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act, 2017, which you can find here.

I think they are concerned about this passage:

(2)  A child is in need of protection where,
(f)  the child has suffered emotional harm, demonstrated by serious,
           (i)  anxiety,
          (ii)  depression,
         (iii)  withdrawal,
         (iv)  self-destructive or aggressive behaviour, or
          (v)  delayed development,
         and there are reasonable grounds to believe that the emotional harm suffered by the child results from the actions, failure to act or pattern of neglect on the part of the child’s parent or the person having charge of the child;

And how it combines with new regulations requiring the court to accommodate the child’s gender identity, alongside things like race, disability, ethnicity or sexual orientation.  Children will also get more of a say in what happens to them in cases of abuse (though youth advocates say that this does not go far enough).

But there is actually nothing in the legislation to suggest that children will be removed from their homes because their parents reject their gender identity.  This one is a beat up, I’m afraid.  (I’ve seen several articles where the Minister involved has explicitly said that this won’t happen, however none of them are from sources that look especially reliable, so I have not included links to these.)

Could this happen in Australia?  Seems highly unlikely, especially as it isn’t actually happening in Canada. I note that Australia is also moving towards involving children in the decisions made about their care, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we wind up with similar laws to theirs eventually.  But those similar laws still won’t lead to children being removed from their parents because of disagreements about gender identity.

The words “Mother” and “Father” have been banned in Alberta schools – see more: http://bit.ly/2wLTc21

False.

The article in question links to a PDF document called ‘Guidelines for best practice: creating learning environments that respect diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions‘.   You can download it from the link and read it yourself.  It’s quite an interesting document, and the general aim is to create a ‘welcoming, caring and safe environment’ and to treat students with respect regardless of actual or perceived gender identity.

It took me a while to work out what the author was talking about with regard to banning the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’, to be honest.  The only thing I can see that remotely sounds like what is described is this passage:

School forms, websites, letters, and other communications use non-gendered and inclusive language (e.g., parents/guardians, caregivers, families, partners, “student” or “their” instead of Mr., Ms., Mrs., mother, father, him, her, etc.).

There is nothing suggesting that teachers or students should not refer to mothers or fathers in other contexts.

The stated reason for this policy is to make sure parents of diverse orientations feel welcome.  In other words, rather than sending a letter home to little Jimmy’s mother and father, it would be sent home to little Jimmy’s parents, or to little Jimmy’s parent or guardian.

Could this happen in Australia? Probably. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it already does.  Should we care?  Honestly, I don’t think this is especially radical.  It does not hurt straight parents (who presumably know who they are and are comfortable with that) and it makes life a little more welcoming for people whose family structures are less traditional.  This is not a hill worth dying on.

God Bless the USA

US LGBTQ study reveals a millennial “identity revolution” – See here: http://bit.ly/2w1KScH

Um. Maybe?  I’ve read the report they are linking to, and I honestly have no idea what they mean.  The report certainly reflects the fact that younger people are in general a bit more accepting of LGBTIQ folk than older people, but the difference was not that enormous.

Could this happen in Australia? Since I have no idea what has allegedly happened in the USA, I couldn’t hazard a guess as to whether it would happen here.

California will fine you for refusing to use the correct gender pronoun for transgenders – see more: http://bit.ly/2wKXupB

True.  According to SB 219, “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Long-Term Care Facility Resident’s Bill of Rights, ‘It shall be unlawful for a long-term care facility or facility staff to … willfully and repeatedly fail to use a resident’s preferred name or pronouns after being clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns’.

I don’t understand why this one is so hard.  We’re talking about people who are in care, who are vulnerable, asking to be called by the name they prefer.  It’s not difficult.  It’s simple politeness and kindness.

Really, even if your religion states that it is wrong to be transgender, what are you expecting to achieve by calling someone by a name and gender they don’t answer to?  You won’t be the first person to do this to them.  Do you really think that you are the person who will change their mind about who they are?  By doing something that is impolite at best and hurtful at worst?  What do you actually expect to achieve here?

Could this happen in Australia?  I hope so. Being sick and reliant on others for your daily care is horrible enough.  Having your identity constantly denied while in that situation is just cruel.

In the wake of the legalisation of same-sex marriage, Obama admin forced transgender bathrooms, locker rooms, on schools as condition of funding. – see here: http://bit.ly/2gljtgz

OK, what even is a transgender bathroom?

I’m going to go on a digression here.  This article and the ones it links to makes me quite angry, because it keeps on referring to trans women as biological males, which is precisely the thing they are desperately trying not to be.  It implies predatory intent that simply does not exist.

Anyway.  I have not been able to find an article which actually gives the source of this particular allegation, however I’m pretty confident that it is referring to this amendment to Title VII:

  1. Employers cannot require transgender employees to provide proof of surgery or gender reassignment before the employees are permitted to use the bathroom corresponding with their gender identity or expression.
  2. If common bathrooms are available (i.e., gender-specific restrooms with multiple stalls or urinals) for non-transgender employees, employers cannot relegate transgender employees to use only a single-user bathroom in lieu of using the common bathroom.
  3. Employers can make single-user bathrooms available for all employees and employees (including transgender employees) may choose to use the single-user bathroom.
  4. The sentiments, beliefs, confusion, comfort-level and/or anxiety of other employees is not a defense to discrimination nor does it excuse an employer from the obligation of permitting transgender employees access to a common bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity or expression.

It seems logical to assume that this would apply in schools, and I know that failing to comply with the various Titles can mean you lose funding.

So my best guess is that this is true, but that the article loses points for being mean spirited.

Could this happen in Australia?  I don’t know.  Our legal system is very different to that of the US.  And bathroom bills haven’t hit our radar, and in any case, unisex bathrooms seem to be becoming more common (or is that just in the People’s Republic of Moreland?).  I wouldn’t be surprised if we wound up with similar legislation here. But it won’t have a thing to do with same sex marriage.

Transgender bathroom laws have contributed to ‘voyeurism epidemic,’ says researcher – see here: http://bit.ly/2wOjAYT

False.  They really haven’t.

I went through the entire list of alleged incidents, and followed the links for all where an attack was by a man ‘presenting as a woman’, and what I found was a lot of attacks by men who either wore women’s clothing because it turned them on or for the purposes of disguise.  None of them identified as women or claimed at any time to be women.  None of them used female names, or were referred to as female in the records. (There was also a report of one man who was clearly trolling, by going into a women’s change room dressed as a man and starting to undress, then claiming loudly that he identified as a woman and that nobody could kick him out. I don’t think he counts.)

None of them were trans women, in other words.

(Lots of men dressed as men, though, which suggests where the true problem lies here.)

Also, several incidents were listed multiple times, which does not fill me with great confidence in the accuracy of the research done.

Essentially, the researcher is conflating men who like to cross dress or who disguised themselves as women specifically in order to get into female spaces with trans women,who live as women, and have really no interest in preying on other women in toilet cubicles.  They just want to be able to go to the loo without risking being raped or beaten up by people who think they don’t have a right to be there.

Also, this whole stupid business about bathrooms is pretty crappy for women who just happen to look a bit masculine.

Could this happen in Australia?  Well, it’s not happening in the US.  And we don’t have a lot of unisex facilities.  So I’d say not.

Also, here are some better statistics on trans people attacking innocent women in bathrooms.

Female athletic sports have been turned into a farce with male transgenders (men identifying as women) dominating their fields of competition – see here: http://bit.ly/2iuC7Dk

True, but only barely.

One trans woman ran as a woman and won her race.  It’s hardly a trend.

Could this happen in Australia?  Maybe.  Ask me if I care.  It’s just sport.  (Oh, I am so unAustralian!  Also so bad at sport.)  OK, let’s pretend I do actually care about sport.  In which case, yeah, it’s a bit tricky to work out how to manage trans athletes.  Though I do wonder – is the increased muscle mass that men have a result of changes at puberty?  Because if so, that would be obviated by better access to puberty blockers.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to come up in the marriage survey, so let’s shelve it for now.

Oregon offers a third gender option on identity documents, including driver’s licenses. see here: http://nbcnews.to/2vzMSWP

True.

And, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, it’s hard to see how this affects anyone who isn’t non-binary.

You rejoice in your gender, I’ll rejoice in mine, and those who have no gender or multiple genders should get to rejoice in theirs, too.  Huzzah!

Could this happen in Australia?  As mentioned elsewhere, I imagine we’ll get to it eventually.

US universities stock men’s bathrooms with tampons – see here: http://bit.ly/2vFU5UI

True.

Which will come in handy for trans men, for women who really can’t wait for the long queues in the women’s loos, and for boyfriends of women who are in a bind and whose bathroom tampon dispensers are out of stock.  Also for men with sudden nosebleeds or gaping wounds.  It’s a win-win-win!

Could this happen in Australia?  Probably.  I’m in favour.  Nothing to do with same sex marriage, though.

Health professionals who question gender ideology are being silenced – see here: http://bit.ly/2xgeGAL

True.

It’s not ideology, though.  It’s science.  The American Psychological Association is pretty clear on the importance of accepting young people who are transgender and not treating this as a psychological condition unless it is causing them distress.  Studies have shown that transgender people have a higher rate of depression and anxiety than the general population, and the evidence suggests that this is strongly linked to stigma and discrimination associated with being transgender.  In other words, it isn’t the gender dysphoria that is the biggest problem, it’s the reaction of people around them.

Could this happen in Australia?  I’d hope that Australia would pay attention to the science as much as anyone else does.

Christians are being fined tens of thousands of dollars for politely declining to offer their services to cater for a same-sex wedding. – see here: http://bit.ly/2xgdCwY

(Will nobody think of the bakers?)

Yes. This one is true.  You can’t refuse to serve someone on the basis of your religious beliefs.  You can’t refuse to make a gay wedding cake, you can’t refuse to make a cake for a biracial couple, you can’t refuse to make a cake for a fundamentalist Christian couple, and you can’t refuse to make a cake for a couple where one is Orthodox Jewish and the other isn’t.

You also can’t refuse to provide medical care to a gay couple, or to rent a house to them, or to employ them for a job for which they are the best candidate, any more than you could refuse this to a black person or a disabled person.

Unless you are actually a place of worship, when you set up your business serving the community, you don’t get to choose which bits of the community you serve.

Could this happen in Australia? Yes. Churches are still free to discriminate on the basis of their beliefs, and some church-owned charities and schools likewise.  Civil celebrants will also have the option of registering as religious celebrants and refusing to marry gay couples.  But the general public has no special privileges.

And this is the case whether or not marriage equality becomes law.

United States case study finds redefining marriage redefines parenting – see here: http://bit.ly/2gbsetg

True.  It redefines parenting by making the birth mother’s spouse the child’s second parent, even if that spouse is also a woman.

Just as the birth mother’s spouse would be the child’s second parent if that spouse was not the biological father of the child.  Also, if a child is adopted, the two adoptive parents will be listed as the parents on the birth certificate.

Birth certificates are not about genetics.  They are about the family unit and who will raise the child.

Now, I think there is a strong presumption that where possible a child should at least have the option of knowing who their genetic parents are.  If nothing else, there are health implications later in life.  And I think there is a good argument to be made that biological parents should have the option, where reasonable, of knowing their children. But birth certificates have nothing to do with this.

Could this happen in Australia?  I wish it would.  Currently, children born to a same sex couple have only one legal parent, and this can be a real problem both in terms of accessing benefits and if something happens to the birth mother.  Also – at last! – this is something which a vote on Same Sex Marriage might affect!

So yes, if you have a problem with this idea, then this actually is a real reason why you might not vote for same sex marriage.  We found one!  Wow!

But I wish you would change your mind, because the children of same sex couples already exist, and they do not deserve to live in a more precarious situation than children from opposite sex relationships.

Kindergarten celebrates 5-year-old transgender ‘transition;’ kids traumatized – see here: http://bit.ly/2vsHKTD

True, sort of.

A kindergarten teacher read her class two age-appropriate books about being transgender, and then introduced a five-year old transgender child by her new name.

And yes, some kids were upset and confused by this. And other kids went home and matter-of-factly told their parents that their friend was now a girl. And some parents were furious!  And some were OK with it.  And the internet had a *field day*.

Does one child’s right not to be confused and anxious in the short term trump another child’s right to self-expression? I don’t think it does, but I also accept that this is not an easy question.

Could this happen in Australia?  Probably.  Does it have anything to do with same sex marriage? Nope.

Radical sex education teaching children that their gender is fluid. – see here: http://bit.ly/2wO1o1B and here: http://fxn.ws/2wkDLdY

True.

This looks basically like the Canadian stuff, so I’m not going to go into it again.

Children are unable to cross the road safely, but still offered sex changes – see here: http://bit.ly/2wJ0bYz

Technically this is false, since I’m pretty sure children are in fact able to cross the road safely.  And they aren’t really offered sex changes, either.

But yes, it’s true that the American College of Pediatrics doesn’t think 14 year olds can cross the roads alone, but that they can decide on puberty-blocking therapy.  I raised an eyebrow at the line about ‘mutilating surgery’, but it’s true that in some cases, older adolescents can have ‘top’ surgery, though not ‘bottom’ surgery.  I admit, I’m not sure how I feel about something as irreversible as surgery for underage teenagers (puberty blocking makes much more sense to me at that age), but I’m also far from being an expert on this.

Could this happen in Australia?  I don’t know.  But I was crossing the road unaccompanied by age seven, and I turned out OK.

The YouGov study found that millennials have clearly been strongly influenced by the transgender narrative: “14% of millennials have felt that their gender identity differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth – this is DOUBLE the number of those 35-54 who have ever felt this way (7%).” – see here: http://bit.ly/2vns1tM

True.  But if it makes you feel better, 27% of Americans wouldn’t be open to being friends with a transgender person.

Does that make you feel better?  It doesn’t make me feel better.

Could this happen in Australia?  Yeah, we’re just as narrow-minded as anyone else.

(I’m sorry, I’ve been at this for eight hours straight now, I’m running out of graceful retorts.  Good thing for you I’ve been doing this entire project out of order, or the New Zealand section would be totally rubbish.)

Merrie England!

Justine Greening, the UK minister for women and equalities, called the move to give more rights to transgender people the THIRD GREAT “STEP FORWARD” after equality for women and the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2013. See here: http://bit.ly/2iGbRG2

True. She did.

Could this happen in Australia? Yes! We have lots of enthusiastic people here.  I could see Senator Sarah Hanson Young or Senator Janet Rice doing this any day of the week, and twice on Thursdays.

Radical sex education teaching children that their gender is fluid. – see here: http://bit.ly/2wYMh4M

False.

Or if it’s true, there is absolutely nothing in that link that provides evidence of it.  This is an opinion piece by Melanie Phillips, who is worried that advancing transgender equality by, say, removing gender categories on forms, will lead to gender fluidity promoted as a lifestyle choice.  This, apparently, amounts to bullying the majority into accepting the idea that gender is mutable, by doing terrible things like having non-gendered school uniforms. She is especially worried about ‘mandatory national transphobic hate-crime training for police officers and the promotion of third-party reporting’.

Look, I don’t know how to usefully engage with this, because it is a litany of fears with no evidence to back them up.

Could it happen in Australia?  Could what happen?  Could we have anxious opinion piece writers worrying that they will be bullied into being nice to transgender people?  Undoubtedly, and I will probably roll my eyes at them just as much as I did at this article.

UK introduces gender-neutral uniforms for schools (neither distinguishable as male or female) – see here: http://bit.ly/2wYTm5m

True!  And can I just say, this would have been awesome when I was at school because first, I wouldn’t have been told off for hanging upside down on the monkey bars with my knickers showing, and second, my brother could have worn hand-me-down uniforms rather than my mother having to buy two lots of uniforms for us.

In other words, while the article emphasises children wearing uniforms that conform with their chosen gender, I can think of some very practical reasons to let everyone wear trousers at school, and I’ve seen a number of articles about schools making uniforms unisex for these reasons.

Could this happen in Australia? It already has happened. Probably for much the reasons I mentioned in my first paragraph.

UK Facebook users can now choose from one of 71 gender options, including asexual, polygender and two-spirit person. – see here: http://bit.ly/2wEW93Z

True! But it’s OK, you can still tick Man or Woman if that’s what you prefer.  Nobody is going to make you be gender neutral or asexual or anything else without your consent (unless they have hacked your Facebook, which is a different problem).

And there’s an upside to this one.  If you do have a problem with other gender identities, you can just look at someone’s Facebook profile and work out quite quickly that this is not someone you want to associate with.  This will probably benefit both of you.

Could this happen in Australia?  Facebook is international. It already has.

Orthodox Jewish girls school faces closure for refusing to teach children about homosexuality – see here: http://bit.ly/2xIorqY

True, but misleading.  And several other religious schools are in the same boat.  Schools in the UK are supposed to teach attending children ‘a full understanding of fundamental British values’, and in particular to teach children about all the protected characteristics set out in the 2010 Equality Act. There is some flexibility, however:

Parents will continue to have the right to withdraw their children from sex education classes, however, and schools are given flexibility over how they deliver the subjects. Faith schools will also be able to continue to teach “in accordance with the tenets of their faith”, although it remains unclear how this will be monitored.

In other words, schools have to mention that homosexuality is a thing and that you can’t discriminate against people or bully them on account of it.  But that really is about all they have to say – they are entirely free to say that it is wrong and against a school’s religious tenets.

The schools in question have failed to meet even that bar.

Could this happen in Australia?  Hard to say.  We do have Safe Schools, but we also let religious institutions have a fair bit of freedom in how they teach things, provided they are teaching to their people and not heading out on the street to preach to the world.

Will marriage quality affect this?  Well, it’s likely to be added to the Safe Schools material, but beyond that, really not.

Sex change referrals in the UK skyrocketed from 96 in 2009/10 to a staggering 2016 in 2016/17. – see here: http://bit.ly/2xIwYdJ

Probably true.  I have no idea where they got those numbers – the article linked to said it was 314 children in 2012 and 2016 last year.  The Guardian is saying the numbers have doubled for the last few years but quote the current number as 1,398.  So yes, the right and the left are in at least approximate agreement here – the numbers are definitely increasing exponentially.  There’s no reason to assume that this is false.

A trans woman quoted in the article said:

I wasn’t surprised at all to see the figures – in fact I’m surprised they’re not higher. In my opinion, the numbers are increasing because awareness is increasing. There’s more visibility and media representation. I was one of these children, I was expressing in my own words from as young as four that I was a girl. My parents are incredibly supportive, but sadly trans wasn’t a ‘thing’ back when I was growing up. Had I been growing up now my parents would have taken me to get help from Tavistock straight away. Trans kids have always been around, there just weren’t things like this in place to help them.

So yes, making people aware of options makes them more likely to choose them.  But ignorance doesn’t make the need go away, it just means the need isn’t addressed.

Could this happen in Australia?  Yes. And it has nothing to do with marriage equality.

800 children as young as 10 have been given puberty blocker drugs – see here: http://bit.ly/2ufHITy

True, as far as I can find out. But let’s be clear on two things that the article is trying to make you scared about:

1. Puberty blocker drugs are reversible.  You stop, you go through puberty naturally.  So giving puberty blockers to a child who is pretty sure they are the wrong sex essentially stops them temporarily from growing into a body that doesn’t match their brain.  If they are sure at 18, they can then undergo active hormone treatments, and these tend to be more effective in producing a body that is congruent with their self if that body has not already gone through puberty in the wrong direction.  If they realise that no, actually, their birth sex was right after all, ceasing puberty blockers allows them to develop the body they would have developed all along.

2. Puberty blockers are not ‘experimenting on children’.  There are follow-up studies that span more than twenty years.

(Yes, I went on PubMed.  I do that.  This article is free and pretty good.)

Could this happen in Australia?  Maybe.  Australia is currently the only country in the world that requires young people to get permission from the Family Court to commence treatment, even if parents and the doctor have already agreed.  So not for a little while yet, I’d say.  And marriage equality is exceedingly unlikely to change that.

A study by ‘Ditch the Label’ in the UK, found that 93% of young people felt it was a good thing to explore their sexuality, while 57% said they felt they didn’t fit into the traditional definition of heterosexuality. – see here: http://bit.ly/2xtquQk

True.

This report revealed that 76% of young adults surveyed no longer believe the conventional labels which are used in relation to sexuality to be relevant or of importance, with only 43% identifying as traditionally ‘straight’. 93% agreed that the exploration of your sexual identity is a healthy and normal part of growing up and 90% acknowledged that the internet had enabled them to do this; in particular they pointed to the power of online anonymity as a tool for self-discovery.

Could this happen in Australia? I suspect it already has.  Will marriage equality change this?  Doubtful.  Yes, it’s easier for someone to come out as gay if they live in a world where it is acknowledged as a real possibility, but we are already in that world, and I can’t see us going back from that.  Not as long as we have the internet.

I admit, I’m astonished by some of the numbers, particularly the first two, but they seem to indicate a much broader shift in how we view gender and sexuality and relationships.  Marriage equality is, in many ways, fundamentally conservative.  It’s bringing same sex relationships into the same pattern that straight ones have held for so long.

So yeah, if that kind of freaks you out, I have a fair bit of sympathy for you.  But it really doesn’t have much to do with marriage equality.

UK prison worker barred from chapel services for quoting bible on homosexuality loses appeal – see here: http://bit.ly/2vdWfMu

True, but misleading.

According to the transcript of the trial, Barry Trayhorn was employed as a gardener, and also volunteered to lead chapel services as an ordained Pentecostal minister. In February 2014, the prison received a complaint that he had preached against same sex marriage.

No formal disciplinary action was taken at the time but at the same time it emerged that the Claimant did not have counter-terrorism security clearance (CTC). Under the Chaplaincy Volunteer Risk Assessment Policy any staff of volunteers preaching in the Chaplaincy were required to have CTC.

Trayhorn was therefore told not to preach at services, however in April, he preached again, from the chapter in Corinthians that claims that homosexuals will not receive the Kingdom of God. Complaints were made by a second prisoner that he was inciting hatred.  Again, no formal action was taken against Trayhorn, but he was told not to preach at services.  A third prisoner then complained also, and after investigation, Trayhorn was referred to a disciplinary hearing.

In July, an agency gardener complained that Trayhorn had been preaching while they were on gardening duty.  Trayhorn then went on sick leave in August, and stayed on sick leave until November, when he resigned. Bizarrely, the disciplinary hearing was held two days after he resigned (since he was still an employee), and he was given a one year final warning.

Trayhorn then claimed constructive dismissal (that he had been forced out), and lost.

So yes, he lost his appeal, and yes, he was barred from chapel services after preaching on homosexuality, but it seems to have been as much about the fact that he kept on doing something that his employer had specifically told him not to do, and the fact that he was not licensed under the prison’s laws, as it was about the contents of his preaching.

Could this happen in Australia? I would think so, yes.  If your employer tells you to stop doing something, especially if that something isn’t the job you are paid for, you kind of have to stop.

UK government threatens property developer: Build gay bar or we’ll shut you down – see here: http://bit.ly/2vFzHmr

Mostly true.

To be more precise, it was the Tower Hamlets Council, not the UK Government, that set the requirement that the new development would include an LGBT pub in the new development, which was on the site of an iconic LGBT bar, the Joiners Arms.  The developer in question doesn’t seem too fazed by this, and are quoted as saying “We fully acknowledge the council’s decision and look forward to working with them and the LGBTQI+ parties to ensure the ultimate success of this scheme for all.”

Could this happen in Australia? Honestly, I have no idea.  This seems to have been dreamed up by a local council to promote diversity.  I could certainly see the People’s Republic of Moreland doing it.  But that wouldn’t be contingent on marriage equality.  That’s just how Moreland rolls.

The London tube announcements no longer say “Ladies and Gentlemen” in an effort to be more ‘inclusive’ – see here: http://bit.ly/2weoIEm

True.

Could this happen in Australia?  Maybe.  But does it matter?  To me, this comes into the category of things that some people find a little silly, but which actually harm nobody and make life a little gentler for some.  I think there are more important things to get worked up about, honestly.

Kia Ora, New Zealand

Charities in New Zealand that don’t support homosexual marriage are now being stripped of their charity status – see here: http://bit.ly/2xfVvay

True, though it would be more accurate to say that one charity (Family First) which actively opposes marriage equality and has no other charitable purpose was stripped of its charity status.  Family First New Zealand is a lobby group whose goal is to ‘be a voice for the family in the media speaking up about issues relating to families’.  It specifically has an emphasis on ‘Judeo-Christian values’.  Under the New Zealand Charities Act of 2005, ‘An entity qualifies for registration as a charitable entity if… it is established and maintained exclusively for charitable purposes’.

Could that happen in Australia?  Absolutely.  In Australia, the law states that ‘A charity can promote or oppose a change to any matter of law, policy or practice, as long as this advocacy furthers or aids another charitable purpose.’ In other words, you have to be doing something more than just lobbying to be a charity here.  But that goes for either side of the political spectrum.  And I think that’s as it should be.

New Zealand’s largest supermarket chain Countdown introduces new transgender policy hailed as a ’spectacular step forward’ – see here: http://bit.ly/2w3Qi6Q

True.  Transgender employees will be supported in using their new names and genders and will be allowed to use their leave for medical treatments while transitioning. They will also be able to use the bathrooms that correspond to their new gender identities.

I suspect that the part of this which people find controversial is the idea of people using a bathroom that doesn’t match the genitals they were born with. There is a pervasive idea that men will claim to be ‘women on the inside’ in order to use women’s bathrooms and assault women and girls.  This article is already ridiculously long, and I’ve talked about this elsewhere, so rather than address this in detail, I suggest that if you are concerned about this, you read this article from the Huffington Post on the subject.  Yes, men sometimes assault women in toilets.  But it is beyond rare for them to pretend to be women when they do.

Could this happen in Australia? Very probably.  But I find it hard to see how this causes harm.

A New Zealand primary school have introduced gender neutral uniforms for its pupils (neither distinguishable as male or female) – see here: http://bit.ly/2wkLuZw

True!  And see my comments above on the schools in the UK.

Could this happen in Australia? As stated above, it already has.

Look, what lists like this say to me is that there is a lot of anxiety around changing ideas about gender, and especially around children and gender.  I think there is a fear that gender roles are changing and being seen in new ways, and I think there is a fear that by being open with kids about the different gender flavours out there, we are prematurely sexualising them.  And I think there is a conversation to be had about how best to teach children about their bodies and their sexuality (I, personally, am in favour of clear, age-appropriate information from an early age, emphasising that your body belongs to you and that nobody gets to do anything with it without your consent).

But that isn’t what this postal survey is about, except inasmuch as the fact that we are having this survey is part of the same shift in thinking that has made GLBTIQ rights part of the national conversation.

As for the list… well, as you can see, some of the items on the list have never happened.  Others are unlikely to happen in Australia.  Yet others have happened already.  They are not contingent on or a result of marriage equality.  They are merely a reflection of the fact that societies are, increasingly, moving to recognise gender diversity.

Now, you might have a problem with that, and I certainly can’t stop you from doing so.

But if you are a ‘yes – but’ voter – if you would like your gay and lesbian friends to be able to marry their partners, but are worried about the wider social consequences, then I encourage you to consider this list carefully.  Voting yes on marriage equality is not going to make Facebook get rid of their diverse gender options, nor will it lead to Australian schools adopting gender neutral uniform policies.  It won’t make any difference to your organisation’s charitable status, or to whether you are allowed to say mean things about gay people (because our laws already cover that).

All it will do is allow our parliament to vote on whether our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters can marry the people they love.

I think that’s worth saying yes for.

6 thoughts on “But what about all those terrible things that happened in other countries after marriage equality?

  1. Regarding the “Ditch the Label” study, some of the figures quoted don’t really differ from the original Kinsey reports published all the way back in 1948.

    The article linked to includes among its statements: “It also found that 47 per cent of respondents chose not to be labelled at all, saying terms like ‘straight’, ‘lesbian’, and ‘gay’ were too limiting.”

    According to the Kinsey report, nearly 46% of the male subjects had “reacted” sexually to persons of both sexes in the course of their adult lives, and 37% had at least one homosexual experience. (Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, p. 656 – citation taken from Wikipedia for convenience sake.)

    The article raises the questions: “How is it that these numbers are so drastic? Have they always been this high?” The answer seems to be yes (or at least since the 1940s).

  2. Thank you for putting all that together in one place.

    FWIW I worked for a company in Aotearoa in the 1980s that had three toilet cubicles for about 20 staff. They were labelled “men” “women” and “other”. I don’t think there was anyone trans on staff although there were some of the other QUILTBAG letters. I believe the labels were because someone asked for labels so they knew which toilet to use. They had period pad bins in all three toilets. Admittedly that was probably a response to the observation that few people obeyed the gender guidelines on the doors and the most used toilet was the one closest to the office… laziness beats labels.

  3. Awesome post, and we are cheering you on and hoping Australia votes Yes.

    One small mistake you’ve made, though, is to write “transmen” and “transwomen”. Trans people have asked repeatedly that we don’t do this. There is no such noun as “transman”, it’s “trans man”, with a space after thr adjective. What you’ve written is the equivalent of “blackmen” and “blackwomen”.

    • I’m so sorry! I really did not know. I’m travelling overseas right now, and WordPress really doesn’t like me making edits on my phone, but I’ll fix when I get back, or when I have good computer access, whichever happens first.

  4. How many of these things are actually consequences of marriage equality?

    So many opponents to marriage equality sloppily quote any example (before or after marriage equality) that has seen action against bigots and homophobes regardless of whether it has anything to do with marriage equality.

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