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I was recently contacted by a self-described feminist, lesbian, grandmother of five. Surprisingly, she congratulated me on my “powerful, well-researched, intelligent and common sense speech” in Parliament regarding the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2016, which thankfully did not pass at the end of last year. She told me that the LGBTI community was not united in its support for the rights of transgender people, when they trump the rights of women. This was particularly in regards to transgender people being allowed to use female-only spaces, such as public toilets and change rooms. She voiced concerns with the way the transgender lobby has used gender ideology through children to push their agenda, and the way that she and other lesbian, feminist friends have had to meet in secret to discuss their views.

While this lady and I might not agree on everything, I believe that her voice is one of many that have been silenced in this debate. There are many people within the LGBTI community who still adhere to common sense views such as hers, and their voices need to be heard. Voicing concerns about women’s safety should not be mistaken for transphobia.

It seems that feminist voices are being left out of the current debate surrounding gender ideology and transgenderism. Another group whose voices have been silenced are “women in the lives of men who transgender”. These women are never referred to, and they are often too afraid to speak out. Some of these women suffer from “psychological violence” from their partners, who are often men who are transgender. Part of this “psychological violence” is a result of having to keep their partner’s secret, often of cross-dressing or wanting to be referred to as a woman. Academic feminists are calling this a new form of women’s oppression, which should be addressed in the public debate.

In my research in this field, I came across a very confronting quote from a woman married to a transgender man that had been the victim of bullying and abuse – “if Tracey was becoming a woman, he had never seemed so male.” It is these stories that have been silenced in the fight for LGBTI rights, creating a culture where legitimate concerns about women’s safety are hailed as bigotry. I intend to keep defending the right of women to feel safe in public spaces, and give voice to those who are too afraid to speak up.

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