Trans-bashing Nats costing us all

By   /   May 20, 2015  /   25 Comments

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The story is clearly a beat-up. A National spy has reported from a confidential forum where Young Labour’s remit was adopted and conspired with reporters to help tap into a deep vein of prejudice.

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Unable to hide its culture of misogyny behind the flag debate, National’s Dirty Tricks Department is bashing the transgender community in an effort to divert attention from its gross excesses.

Unbriefed politicians on both sides of the house have fallen over themselves to condemn Young Labour remits aimed at creating a policy of free transgender healthcare.

“It’s nutty,” said Health Minister Jonathon Coleman.

“It’s complicated,” said Labour’s Grant Robertson.

“I didn’t vote for it,” said colleague Stuart Nash.

“I haven’t given it much thought,” said Leader Andrew Little.

The story is clearly a beat-up. A National spy has reported from a confidential forum where Young Labour’s remit was adopted and conspired with reporters to help tap into a deep vein of prejudice.

That much of ongoing transgender healthcare is already subsidised here was obviously lost on the Minister in charge. Effectively he’s identified himself as an insane spender of valuable taxpayers’ money at a time when poor Bill English says he can’t make ends meet.

Many might share Pam Corkery’s view of journalist Brooke Sabin. I couldn’t possibly comment other than to say his evident glee when reporting is something he should learn to suppress. It’s a very bad look for someone pretending to be a reporter. Surely his bosses could find someone who keeps a straight face as he sells their snake oil.

Little’s comments, also clearly off-the-cuff weren’t thought out, in my view, but the fact that he made a joke about it doesn’t reflect the grass roots support transgender people are gaining for equal human rights.

Caught on the hop, perhaps, but Robertson has been roundly condemned as yet another example of cis-gender gay men throwing the trans community under the bus. Grant’s support of transgender people’s causes was overshadowed by his statement that free trans healthcare was “complicated.” Trans advocates have been very vocal about there being nothing complicated about equality.

Nash, who voted against the remit when it was passed at the Hawke’s Bay regional conference, is a pragmatic chap. Clearly no one has sat down with him to explain the simple economics of trans healthcare. If someone did, he’d be lobbying for it.

It’s simple really. We already fund drugs which are used to adjust people’s hormones. Tuning hormone levels is something GPs do with many patients. Some are willing to do it with transgender patients and, in accordance with protocols, prescribe. Trans hormone treatment is now long accepted, mainstream medical treatment.

There’s a good reason for the taxpayer funding this. Accountants have realised that a failure to offer treatment carries a greater cost. Denied access to treatment, trans people’s prospects of having a productive life usually go down the drain. Instead of going on to lead productive, tax paying lives, the accountants realised that they became a drain on the system, using up other health resources as they self-harm, commit suicide or simply slide into the abyss of depression.

Even more eye-watering for the accountants examining the bottom line is the cost of suicide to society. A survey of 8,000 Auckland high school students revealed 1.2 percent were transgender. Nearly 20 percent of those 80-plus kids had attempted suicide in the previous 12 months. The cost of a young, educated, nurtured life has been estimated at three million dollars to the community. I’d hope we’d see this with a little more humanity, but suddenly trans health equality seems like good value. Perhaps what was left over wouldn’t feed all the kids, but it’d be a good start.

Trans people commit suicide every year in this country. By short changing us on healthcare as successive government have, they have cost the country a fortune. Never mind the human cost or the disgraceful and shameless failure to comply with our United Nations human rights obligations. And never mind the little boy who finds his cold sister hanging from a tree, or the parents who just wished they’d listened to her instead of the hate spouted by a bigoted populist government.

At a time when the trans community should be encouraged by advances in visibility and influence politically, yesterday brought a double blow as a Simon Bridges blocked Louisa Walls effort to get gender identity included in the Human Rights Act.

Echoing what Crusher Collins had done last year, he confirmed that giving transgender people recognition under the Act was too “controversial.” What? Accepting me as human is controversial? As a lobbyist for trans rights, I don’t like to burn bridges, but there are plenty in the community who’d make an exception for Simon.

The combination of it being too controversial for Human Rights Act inclusion and a National Government intent on restricting or reducing our healthcare it’s understandable that some advocates are saying our fight for equality has been set back decades.

It’s understandable that some might see me as naïve for taking encouragement from grassroots support within Labour for trans inclusion and being dismissive of the damage caused by this targeting of the trans community for political gain.

But I like to see the glass as being more than just half full – it comes with a free glass too. I guess when life gives you lemons, build a big spud gun and fire them at your enemies. For the optimists among us, the inequality faced by the trans community has again been highlighted by the events of yesterday.

We’ve learned that the Minister of Health is a quack who will call mainstream, funded healthcare “nutty” if he thinks it will divert media attention from the Government at a convenient time. Flying in the face of accepted medical practise and ignoring the economic reality reveals this as merely a sideshow where it’s hoped we won’t notice what’s happening on the main stage. After all, the quack in the tinfoil hat beating on the transgender person is certainly a spectacle which draws the eyes.

One doesn’t have to be paranoid to see Simon Bridges’ blocking of bill that would grant us Human Rights inclusion as more than a coincidence. Clearly National is lining Labour up on its support of the transgender community. The leak, the media beat up, the blocking of HRA inclusion are seen by some as a growing pattern of attack on a vulnerable community. As I wince at the pain I’m seeing expressed, I can’t help but look over at my glass and notice that it seems less full than it did on Monday. Kudos for Young Labour for promoting this issue. It’s just a shame it’s showed the ugly underbelly of prejudice that trans people continue to face.

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About the author

Kelly Ellis

Contributor

A staunch human rights advocate and barrister, she ran on the Labour ticket in that electorate in 2014. When not working or politicking she plays with old cars and motorbikes, sails, fishes, cooks or hides out on her boat.

25 Comments

  1. Mike the Lefty says:

    I agree, but it is no more than we could have expected from the sensationalist MSM and the misogynist National Party. When anyone talks about a subject with any remote connotations of sexual behaviour all adult common sense goes out the door. It is amazing how so many of the National Party and their allies who behave like suddenly they have discovered there is a peep show right next door to them, and how so many of the Labour party have known about the peep show for ages but pretended it wasn’t there.

  2. The response from the Nats was predictable.

    Heather du Plessis-Allen’s late night TV1 news coverage on 19 May (http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/absolutely-nuts-health-minister-slams-labour-s-free-sex-change-surgery-idea-6315588) was apalling, and she treated the issue as a joke. It was shameful and unprofessional.

    What next, poking fun at people with disabilities?

    As for Labour MPs running for cover – they forget that transgendered people; their friends; family; and supporters also vote. No doubt the Green Party will be more sympathetic to LGBT people than those homophobic/ignorant Labour MPs who didn’t have the guts to stand firm on this issue.

    If Labour won’t stand up for a minority, what will they stand for?

    • Phil Tate says:

      Your last line resonates through the NZ & UK elections “…what will [do] they stand for”.
      I have to credit Key; he was perhaps saying the right thing about the wrong topic when he exhorted Little to “get some guts”. Turning around the divisive and cynical narrative of the last 30 years will take a lot of guts, but given Labour is complicit in this story, I a doubtful they have the stomach to do it.
      This was also so eloquently put recently by Michael Sheen when he said “‘By God, believe in something!” Probably the best speech I’ve heard in a long time.

  3. mary_a says:

    And wasn’t Georgina Beyer not so long ago an MP in the Labour Party, as well as being NZ’s first transgender member of Parliament? She was also mayor of Carterton for a period of time also.

    Transgender Kiwis are part of society as well and deserve equal rights and respect.

    Sometimes I do wonder where the current lot of parliamentary representatives have their heads these days! Their responses to this issue have been embarrassing, as well as disgraceful, considering this is the 21 century!

    Another point is the down thumb trolls are out and about on this one!

    • Mike the Lefty says:

      Yes and guess who was standing against her for National in 1999? Paul Henry! Yes, the same Paul Henry that nauseates all but the most braindead Nationalphile on TV3 on weekday mornings. The worthy Mr Henry had a temper tantrum after the vote count because his huge ego couldn’t take the reality that he had lost, to a transgender! He hasn’t changed much in 16 years, has he?

  4. Stuart Munro says:

    Nevertheless, the right knows that identity politics is the road to electoral ruin. Labour seems not to have learnt this yet.

    Brilliant distractor from a budget that makes it abundantly clear that economic competence – National’s only redeeming feature – is something that they have never possessed.

  5. JC says:

    Old cars, motorbikes, a boat. I thought only dirty minded capitalists could afford these sorts of things to play with. Good on her!

  6. Ben says:

    Its a good idea, but nevertheless Labour should not make this a part of their policy if they want to win the next election. Interesting question though, is opposing this misogynistic? Considering trans can be of either gender?

    • Samwise says:

      Ben, there’s an old saying, “What does it profit a man (or woman) to win a kingdom, and lose his (or her) soul”?

    • Kelly Ellis says:

      So you’re not interest in saving money and lives? If you’d prefer that, then rather than being mysognist, you’re clearly transphobic.

  7. J S Bark J S Bark says:

    Hmm. Nothing new there sadly, Kelly.

    NZ continues to roll along 20 years behind the rest of the world who are too busy laughing their heads off at the pompous mess that passes as enlightened government here.

    Just how many decades do you all need to grow up?

  8. wild katipo says:

    Nay…good on you , Kelly…we may have crossed swords a few times…but in essence…’what price is there for warmth towards all people’?….

    You know I get sick of all the heartless ,dispassionate doublespeak and coldness that we go to , to all the lengths to prove or disprove a persons validity.

    We are all equal. We are all New Zealanders. We are all valid. We are all human beings.

    There is no fiscal value that any bastard can attach to the value of the life of a human being.

    If there’s a sector that’s suffering …then that needs attention. Its as simple as that. No ifs, buts , or maybes.

    That’s part of good governance. Bad governance is weighing up political vote catching against human need. That is immoral.

    And as for you Simon Bridges….shame on you. I knew your father Heath at Te Atatu Baptist. And he was a fine , fatherly like man.

    And you need to get back to your roots,- to take a leaf from the military , – and take responsibility and start acting like a man.

    Honour , duty, and humility.

    And compassion.

  9. dangerousdave says:

    “A National spy has reported from a confidential forum where Young Labour’s remit was adopted and conspired with reporters to help tap into a deep vein of prejudice.”

    The fact that this discussion was held in a ‘confidential forum’ perhaps displays Young Labour’s own insecurity in dealing with what is a valid discussion.

  10. Gosman says:

    How much is the cost you write of?

  11. Andrea says:

    Oh for goodness’ sake!

    Do we have such an uproar about dealing with cleft palates and heart defects in kids?!

    So many trans people already know before they hit puberty that they don’t match with their birth bodies.

    Why on earth (or even Planet key) is a remit needed?

    Can’t the Ministry of Health conduct a survey of the medical professionals who deliver these services and find out the size of the need, the backlog to be cleared, and the likely number of new users?

    I think Gosman was right in his/her asking about the sum needed. We also need to know whether we have the professionals available for all the facets of this work – or whether this is another ‘cross the Tasman’ service, as for clearing cancer treatment backlogs.

    This is a common-round-the-world human condition with easy-enough remedies. C’mon Pharmac! Find us ‘affordable and safe’ for this one. It doesn’t need ‘policy’.