Queer Avengers discussion: beyond marriage

July 24, 2012

By writers for The Spark

On Thursday the 19th of July, at radical social centre 128 Abel Smith Street, Wellington group The Queer Avengers held a discussion on queer activism and marriage. With two MPs’ bills in the parliamentary ballot box, the Queer Avengers decided it was time to take a stance on the question of marriage equality.

Until recently the Queer Avengers have largely abstained from the marriage discussion, with views ranging from a full endorsement of marriage equality to rejecting the institution of marriage altogether. The group had concluded that while members have a range of views on marriage, there should be no legal distinction between same sex and different sex couples. This discussion meeting aimed to flesh that position out. Read the rest of this entry »

Queer The Night 2012 speech

May 12, 2012

Photo credit: Emily Haskell.

Kassie Hartendorp is a member of the Workers Party, and delivered this speech as a part of Queer The Night 2012. The Workers Party will be holding a talk on queer liberation and socialism as part of our Socialism 2012 conference.

Kia ora whanau,

My name is Kassie and I work for School’s Out, a queer youth organisation, and I am also a member of the Queer Avengers . I’m here speaking to you today, because I want to really drive home that the experiences of the youth up here tonight are not isolated cases.

The whole reason that queer youth support organisations exist is due to the fact that our schools, our families and our communities are not always safe places to come out as a queer or questioning teenager. Our entire existence is based on the fact that so many of our youth and adults, are still unaccepted, marginalised, or treated as second class to heterosexual or cis-gender people.

As a youth worker, I see many of the younger generations coming through with a confidence that even I, as a 22 year old find absolutely inspirational. When I was young, even going to a queer group was too terrifying for me, let alone starting a Queer Straight Alliance, or standing up at a march in front of so many people. Read the rest of this entry »

Queer Avengers leaflet: Queer The Night 2012

May 11, 2012

The Queer Avengers are a Wellington group fighting all forms of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. This leaflet will be circulated on their second annual “Queer The Night” event tonight.

In 2011, after a series of queer-bashings in Wellington, hundreds of people from the community came together to reclaim the streets, to paint the town pink & purple, to Queer The Night. Out of this march, the Queer Avengers formed.

This is the second annual Queer The Night march. This time we’re particularly supporting Pink Shirt Day  on the 18th of May, and more generally opposing all homophobia and transphobia. Read the rest of this entry »

Queer The Night 2012

April 22, 2012

Everyone ready to Queer the Night?

The 18th of May is pink shirt day and we thought what better than for the Queer Avengers to raise awareness of queer bullying in our schools than to Queer up the Night again.

We’ve lost a number of people in our community this year due to homophobic or transphobic violence of one sort or another. Join with us again at 7pm on Friday, 11th of May to say that enough is enough.

See you in Waitangi Park, 7pm 11th of May.

-The Queer Avengers

Queer Avengers leaflet: Germaine Greer’s transphobia, a “ghastly parody” of women’s liberation

March 14, 2012

Germaine Greer has a decades-long history of fighting for her vision of women’s liberation. She also has a decades-long history of attacking transfolk, targeting particular venom at transwomen even in recent years.

In 1972, Greer was arrested in this country for using the word “bullshit.” We’re here to say that transphobia is bullshit.

‘Outing’ transwomen

Over the 1980s and 1990s, Germaine Greer participated in a witch-hunt against transwomen in prominent positions.

In 1996, Greer outed Rachel Padman, a physicist at an all-women college at Cambridge University. She stated that the “dignity of this college is marred by this unfortunate event.” Greer apparently had no interest in the dignity of Rachel Padman, who survived Greer’s repeated tabloid attacks and retained her position at Cambridge.

Refusing imposed roles

Greer treats gender variance as a threat to women’s liberation, stating in her book The Whole Woman that by respecting the right to self-identify, a woman “weakens her claim to have a sex of her own.”

Any vision of liberation that doesn’t respect the right to self-identify, to refuse imposed gender roles, will simply reproduce oppression. We need to support liberation for all women, for all people, for the right to refuse all imposed roles.

Transphobia in the 21st Century

As transfolk have become increasingly organised and developed a louder collective voice, many feminists dropped the overt transphobia. However Greer continues to insist on the importance of transphobia to women’s liberation.

Caster Semenya, whose gender has been called into question.

In a 2009 article on Caster Semenya, a particularly “blokish” sportswoman, Greer took the opportunity to take a swipe at transwomen:

Nowadays we are all likely to meet people who think they are women, have women’s names, and feminine clothes and lots of eyeshadow, who seem to us to be some kind of ghastly parody, though it isn’t polite to say so.

By stubbornly continuing to attack women on the trans spectrum, Greer herself has become a “ghastly parody” of women’s liberation. Any liberation movement that limits itself to cis-women will not progress.

The Queer Avengers is holding two events on transphobia and alternatives in the immediate future:

Queer Avengers Discussion Group: Gender Trouble
What is the difference between sex and gender?
What is the relationship between imposed gender roles and gender identity/expression?
How can we fight imposed gender roles, and why is it important?
TONIGHT (Wednesday March 14th) 7pm Anvil House

Press conference on media coverage of gender variance
TOMORROW (Thursday March 15th) 4:30pm Anvil House

Queer Avengers press release: Germaine Greer glitter-bombed

March 14, 2012

On March 14th at the Embassy Theatre, members of the Queer Avengers “glitter-bombed” feminist writer Germaine Greer, touring New Zealand as a part of Writers and Readers Week.

Glitter-bombing, or throwing glitter on public figures, has gained prominence internationally as a way to highlight transphobia and queerphobia. Greer has a history of denouncing transwomen; outing prominent transwomen and describing them as “ghastly parodies” of womanhood.

Transphobic feminism is so 20th Century,” asserted Stacey of the Queer Avengers. “It wasn’t okay then and it’s not okay now. Women’s liberation must mean the right to refuse imposed gender roles, to fight for diverse gender expression.”

The Queer Avengers also handed out leaflets stating “transphobia is bullshit.” Greer was arrested in 1972 while touring New Zealand, for saying the word “bullshit.”

The Queer Avengers recently stormed Fairfax Media headquarters in Wellington for giving a platform to anti-trans sentiments. The group will be holding a press conference on media coverage of gender variance on Thursday the 15th of March, 1:30pm at Anvil House.

Fairfax opinion piece: Media profit from bigotry

February 29, 2012

As a result of Friday’s action against media transphobia, members of the Queer Avengers (and friends) were offered an editorial to counter Rosemary McLeod’s. This piece was co-written by Ian Anderson and Rosie-Jimson Healey.

EGO-TRIP: compound noun, informal. An activity done in order to increase one’s sense of self-importance.

One would think that giving birth is an activity unlikely to be deposited scathingly in the ego-trip category.

Perhaps bringing a new life into the world does increase one’s sense of self-importance; it is an astonishing example of the power of the human body when a perfect tiny human emerges from a uterus that has casually grown to 500 times its usual size.

Not to mention the presentation of a helpless, beetroot-coloured miniature human being. Even so, we don’t imagine many would link the term “ego-trip” to this particular moment in most parents lives.

However, this was the case in Rosemary McLeod’s piece that bore the headline Why I feel sorry for the children of ego-trippers (February 23). An innocent enough title, certainly not one that would sound immediate alarm bells in the reproductive rights, hate speech and eugenics departments. Read the rest of this entry »

Fairfax Report: Trans-gender community protest against column

February 24, 2012

About 50 protesters from Wellington’s Queer Avengers lobby group picketed the offices of The Dominion Post at lunchtime levelling charges of transphobia at the paper, its parent company Fairfax and the wider media.

The controversy arose yesterday when veteran Dominion Post columnist Rosemary McLeod published an opinion piece entitled Why I feel for the kids of ego trippers.

The column dealt with the issue of transgender parent Thomas Beatie who has given birth and appeared on television shows and in numerous media reports as a result.

Protester Sara Fraser said McLeod’s column was “appalling” and was part of a transphobic trend in the New Zealand media.

“She claimed not to know anything about the topic but still wrote about it.”

Ms Fraser said of particular concern was the use of the split pronoun he/she that McLeod used to refer to Beatie.

She said the over-riding issue was the column made transgender people look like unfit parents.

“Rosemary needs to wake up and smell the 21st century - such hatred is not acceptable in this day and age.”

Skye Shaddix, a 17-year-old female-to-male transgender person, said there was no reason why “trans-people should not be allowed to have kids.”

Shaddix and his 19-year-old boyfriend -  also female-to-male transgender - were considering having children in their late 20s.

“We should not be judged on how we were born - we have the working body parts, so why can’t we have the kids?”

The protesters gathered outside The Dominion Post‘s Boulcott St offices in downtown Wellington carrying placards bearing slogans like “transphobia is bullshit” and chanting “hey hey, ho ho transphobia’s got to go” and  “we’re here, we’re queer, we’re fabulous, don’t f#$k with us.”

Speakers at the protest said the media was profiting from racism, bigotry, homophobia and transphobia.

Queer Avengers’ Brooklyne Kennedy called McLeod’s column the “asinine rhetoric of the past” to cheers from the other protesters.

The group proposed a one day boycott of Fairfax’s Stuff website before going into the ground floor lobby of The Dominion Post to deliver a letter to management.

Dominion Post editor Bernadette Courtney said the column was carried on dompost.co.nz, and in print, in sections clearly  identified as opinion or comment.

“The piece represents Ms McLeod’s opinion and, while I accept that not everyone would agree with it, and may even have been affronted by it, I believe that when balanced against the principle of free expression, it would have been going a step too far to have banned it,” Ms Courtney said. [ed note: private newspapers select what to print and what not to print.]

- © Fairfax NZ News

Queer Avengers protest media transphobia

February 23, 2012

Members of the Queer Avengers, a queer and trans activist group, have called a protest against a transphobic article by Rosemary McLeod. The rally is taking place at 12:30 Friday 23rd February, outside the headquarters of Fairfax Media, who own the Dominion Post.

McLeod’s article states that transmen are in fact women, repeatedly using the pronoun “he/she.” Outrage has erupted online, on Twitter and elsewhere. The Queer Avengers event is circulating widely on Facebook, with over 100 down to attend in the space of an hour.

While a Dominion Post spokesperson says the article was merely Rosemary McLeod’s ‘opinion,’ protesters point out that the Dominion Post provide a platform for such opinions.

“They’re just profiting off bigotry,” says Queer Avengers activist Emily Haskell. “It happens throughout the media, and we won’t stand for it.”

McLeod asserts that she is worried for the kids of transmen. However the Queer Avengers note that in another article printed on the same day, a US study noted that children who express themselves in ways contrary to their percieved gender are often targeted for abuse, leading to post-traumatic stress disorder. “Transphobia hurts children and parents,” asserts Queer Avengers activist Stephen Jackson.

The Queer Avengers formed out of a ‘Queer the Night’ march with around 300 attendants in 2011. They have called a press conference on Thursday the 15th of March to discuss press coverage of gender variance, following on from the rally at Fairfax headquarters.


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