Promoting the unnecessary prioritisation

Some Victorian Greens are not entirely ecstatic about the new and more sweeping definitions of “transphobia.”

A newly expanded definition of transphobia is threatening to reopen divisions within the Victorian Greens after a senior member accused the party’s leadership of stifling free speech with its revamped code of conduct.

Others have welcomed the updated policy, which was passed by the party’s state council late last week, arguing the Greens now have the strongest anti-discrimination safeguards of any political party in Victoria for transgender members.

But not the strongest anti-discrimination safeguards for women or feminists or people who understand what words mean.

The Victorian Greens now define transphobia as the vilification of trans people; intentionally misgendering people individually or as a group; denying that non-binary genders exist; or “promoting the unnecessary prioritisation of sex characteristics above gender”.

Aka questioning the fanatical doctrine that “sex characteristics” don’t determine who is a woman and who is a man.

The party’s new rules also state that “advocating for unnecessary restrictions on transition care” and “asking leading questions that cover for doing one of the above” can constitute transphobia.

And who will decide when those conditions have been met? Why, the fanatics, of course. The people who are guaranteed to find sin where sin is expected, and never to err on the side of thinking people are allowed to know who is a woman and who isn’t.

A member of the Victorian Greens, who holds a senior position and was speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss internal party matters, said the new code of conduct went too far.

“The old code already prohibited vilification, harassment and misgendering,” the party member said. “Now you won’t even be able to ask questions about or propose changes to our policy without threat of expulsion. One way or another, this will split us.”

The member went on to accuse MPs – including Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam – of trying to “cleanse the party of dissent”.

“They’re not interested in freedom of expression, facts or science. They’ve declared war on half the membership.”

And on women. That’s how this crusade works – the punishment always lands mostly on women.

However, another Greens member – also speaking on the condition of anonymity – stressed the expanded definition of transphobia was about giving the party the appropriate tools to grapple with important issues, rather than predetermine an outcome.

The member added that in the past, trans-exclusionary feminists – who often prefer to be called gender-critical feminists – have used official Greens meetings to question, among other things, whether men can give birth. Some party members find these sorts of questions offensive because, in their view, it presupposes that trans men are not men.

Which, of course, they’re not; that’s what “trans men” means. They may be butch; they may even be more butch than most men (though that’s hard to pull off without the requisite body type); but they’re not men.

Greens LGBTQ spokesperson Gabrielle de Vietri said the new code of conduct would protect serious debate while ensuring unsubstantiated questions aren’t weaponised against gender-diverse people.

“Respectful debate which is grounded in evidence is crucial to policy development and will always be welcome in the Greens,” she said.

“Leading questions, on the other hand, are a highly effective tactic that bigots can use to fearmonger and mislead people about complicated issues.”

And of course it’s the zealots who will decide which questions are “leading” and which are permitted. Fewer but better Greens.

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