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ISGD RALLY HELD ON 11 MAY 2011 IN CANBERRA

MEDIA RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ACTIVISTS BRAVE CANBERRA COLD FOR INTERSEX, SEX AND/OR GENDER DIVERSE PEOPLE’S RIGHTS (includes Budget angle)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

About 180 people gathered on the lawns of Parliament House, Canberra yesterday for Australia’s first ever national rally by intersex, sex and/or gender diverse (ISGD) people.

Buses of ISGD people and their allies came from as far away as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to attend the historic rally, which prevailed on a bitterly cold, windy day, where the temperature struggled to reach double digits.

Intersex, transsexual, transgendered, genderqueer and androgynous people spoke of their experiences of discrimination, harassment and violence during the rally, which highlighted the need for equal treatment under Commonwealth laws.

GRIFFEN JONES, member of the Still Fierce ISGD activist group, said: “We are making history here today. I look forward to the time when those of us who are from rural places can return there and be welcomed instead of harassed.”

NORRIE talked about how they have been embroiled in legal system for the
past year trying to get their ‘sex not specified’ document reinstated: “Since
I went public with my experience, I’ve heard from people across the globe
who also want a ‘sex not specified’ document. It's resonated with people
from many places, including Iraq and Russia."

ZOE BRAIN, an intersex woman and rocket scientist from Canberra who lectures at the Australian National University (ANU), said that things were changing, and that ISGD people and groups such as Still Fierce were making a difference. “People are working on things now and listening because of your pressure.”

TRACIE O’KEEFE, sexologist and spokesperson for the Sex and Gender Australia (SAGE) group, argued for Medicare rebates for ISGD people.

“We want full Medicare for ISGD people – we don’t want a penny less. If you have a heart transplant it’s covered by Medicare, same with a hysterectomy. Why can’t you have it for gender or sex health?

“It’s a false economy because if you are not giving people financial help,
they may become depressed and be on welfare for the rest of their lives. Do the maths.”

O’Keefe noted that the 2011 Australian Budget, released by the Federal Government on Tuesday, placed a heavy emphasis on ‘welfare to work’ measures.

“In the Budget, it was emphasised that we need to get people into the workplace, but we can’t if ISGD people are not protected. ISGD people are discriminated before they even get their foot in the door, then if they do get a job they are discriminated against.

“We want ISGD people off welfare and back to work where possible but we can’t do that unless they have full protection in law."

Labor Senator LOUISE PRATT came down from the House to speak with representatives of the rally, telling them that a range of cross-bench federal politicians were looking at the issues they raised.

Activists also delivered a list of demands to a representative of Greens Senator SARAH HANSON-YOUNG, requesting that she forward it to Prime Minister JULIA GILLARD.

A full list of the demands can be viewed at: http://stillfierce.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/intersex-sex-or-gender-diverse-isgd-rally/

ENDS

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Tracie O’Keefe
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