Feminism and trans rights must go hand-in-hand

In response to: www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/most-read-wellington-transgender-woman-denied-membership-female-gym-opens-up-q

The National Council of Women of New Zealand supports the rights of transgender women to access services as women – including women’s gyms and other spaces – because trans women are women.

National Council of Women Chief Executive and Gender Equal NZ Spokesperson Gill Greer says the way that trans women are pitted against women who were assigned female at birth, in TVNZ’s recent story about women only gym membership, is dangerous. “Trans women’s rights are women’s rights – and ‘women’s rights are human rights’” says Gill.

“As a feminist organisation that believes in equality for all genders, we find the view that trans rights undermine the work of the early suffragists, troubling” says Gill.

“The National Council of Women was founded by Kate Sheppard in 1896” says Gill. She and other suffragists fought this kind of discrimination, because as Kate Sheppard said “All that separates, whether of race, class, creed, or sex, is inhuman and must be overcome.”

“Discrimination towards trans people is a serious issue in New Zealand. The Human Rights Commission “To Be Who I Am” report back in 2008, found trans people experienced serious discrimination in housing, employment and healthcare amongst other issues. But it is hard to be sure about how much discrimination there is towards trans people in New Zealand, because trans people are unlikely to even be included in official information gathering, including the recent census – which is a problem in itself” says Gill.

“We do know that trans women experience high rates of sexual, partner and other forms of violence” says Gill “and the Youth 2012 survey shows that trans secondary school students are often unsafe at school due to discrimination.”

  • Half of trans students have been hit or harmed by another person at school.
  • Trans students are five times more likely to have attempted suicide in the past 12 months.
  • Trans students are twice as likely to be unable to access healthcare as fellow students.

“Like others, the National Council of Women supports the inclusion of trans women’s needs in all conversations about gender discrimination. In many cases, trans and gender diverse people are experiencing serious barriers that all feminists – and actually, all New Zealanders – should care about. Only then can we hope to achieve true gender equality.”

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