Complaint to NZ Herald April 11th 2014

This morning I was grabbing a coffee before work and had the pleasure of reading the NZ Heralds opinion piece by Bob McCroskie, and that was the start of a ruined day. In my head I screamed ‘Shut up Bob’, but I also contemplated the hard work that many of our Rainbow community and our allies do to make sure that Trans* and Intersex people are not invisible, and our human rights are recognised.

In contrast yesterday was a completely different experience, on behalf of some others I was asked to present a petition to the health select committee kindly supported by Hon MP Kevin Hague and delivered stylishly by Hon MP Jan Logie. The petition was asking the Health Select Committee the following question;

“The House urge the Government to take action to address the inadequate supply of publically funded gender reassignment health services, including counselling, endocrinology and surgical services, in New Zealand.”

So within 48hrs I became very confused by the Gender Agenda myself. It got me thinking today.

So often I find myself caught up with clarifying the Gender Agenda. I recognise I am not arguing for an identity to be recognised, we have so many identities in the Rainbow Community it would take too many years to get each group happily playing in the sand pit together. I also recognise we spend a lot of time arguing about how fractured the Rainbow Community is, and that our sexuality or gender are not everything to us. I thought all day about how mad I was at the essentialist and expert driven mentality that has been promoted since the 1950s about gender dichotomies and how as Trans* or Intersex people it is so rude of us to expect people to understand where our gender differences or similarities intersect. I also was annoyed that the dominant culture is dominant and that the dominant ‘they’ had utilised the perspectives and world view of children to get everyone thinking that the community I am situated in is coercive and brain washing. Half of this was not said or stated openly in the Bob McCroskie article but it did scream all day in my brain as I tried to do my job, finish an assignment (still not done), read commentary from the opinion piece and recognise that Bob has every right to his opinion and that I was just annoyed that this MISINFORMATION WAS GOING TO HURT PEOPLE NO MATTER WHAT THEIR GENDER WAS.

I was left questioning why would someone think this opinion piece was a worthwhile discussion and what is with the picture? I also felt like there was no point in clarifying to the world the differences between gender and sexuality or the intricacies of ‘gender change’, thankfully others have pointed out these differences. Neither was I motivated to explain the current barriers for an individual no matter what age to ‘gender change’ in the current health care system or to not ‘gender change’ and comfortably live inclusively in their community. Nor to find a wonderfully informative and tentative or polite way to clarify the distinctly stigmatised behaviours that are outcomes of gender normative society oppressing a persons identity that is outside of the male/female binary. Why mention all the inclusive language that could possibly be used to explain our wonderful and celebratory lives in today’s communities across the globe. I am recognising my frustration and cynicism, and I wonder if others recognise their responsibility to understand others no matter what beliefs and doctrines they follow. Its called human rights, and children have them too. How do we make sure they are met? Today I am unsure.

Our lives as people outside of binary gender is constantly erased and those young people today questioning their gender have the right to know what gender is and can be. It will be with them the rest of their lives; this structural discrimination and essentialist commentary is worthwhile to no one. Research must be developed to be inclusive and all health and well-being professionals need to develop ways to engage with our community and protect our human rights.

Then I wondered, why is it my responsibility to tell Bob he is harming people with his views? As a community we are hurting already, yes we have great resilience but little access to support or resource so why NZ Herald Op Ed did you think this was an ethical image and article to put in the paper?

The right to be respected, to have a sense of belonging in a community, to have your health care needs met and to be seen and heard if you are intersex or trans* is not very accessible currently. I believe its essential to be informed about what your sexuality or gender is and how it can change over time. I also recognise that every person has an understanding of their own sexuality and gender identity which gives them a greater sense of belonging within their communities, families, schools, work places and churches. It is essential that people understand that misinformation leads to people in our communities being harassed, hurt, stigmatised and isolated.

Note this piece is purposefully not referencing research, it is my sole opinion as one Trans* person who lives in Auckland NZ. I have referenced my blog as this is where this piece of writing is situated.

NZ Herald the opinion piece by Bob McCroskie and printed image within the article on April 11th 2014 contained misinformation that could be harmful and I wish to make a formal complaint about it being published.

Tom Hamilton
Gender Activist
To Merge Celebrating sexuality and gender identity in Aotearoa Families


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