Let Posie Parker Speak, her supporters were more helpful than her
Last month, I attended the #LetWomenSpeakSydney then the #LetWomenSpeakCanberra rallies held by British “trans-exclusionary radical feminist” (TERF) Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, otherwise known as Posie Parker (PP). And I must say, her supporters were more helpful in turning me into a (trans-inclusive) TERF than she was, in an unexpected way.
It was a stinking-hot sunny day on Saturday the 11th of March, when I turned up to Victoria Park, Broadway (Sydney) before midday. I saw two anti-PP groups gathering from the University of Sydney Camperdown side of the Park, far away from the PP rally. Initially, with a “I’m trans and proud to be a conservative” sign, I turned up to quietly protest the PP rally: allow me to explain as a trans woman.
Despite popular perception, I don’t believe it’s accurate to generalise PP and her followers as right-wing or conservative. From what I’ve observed thus far, they are left-wing feminists frozen in time — think about where feminism was at in the 2000s. Therefore PP and co are engaged in an inter-Left war: self-cannibalisation broadly speaking. The display of my protest sign was a subtle double-protest.
I stood behind PP, at some distance, to protest with my sign, but that didn’t last for long. Just after midday, the two anti-PP groups merged and marched towards the PP rally, yelling and screaming what you would expect of a typical left-wing protest in Sydney. They were held back by a police line that included horses. I ran to the back of the rally, then whipped out a second and third sign with the phrases “Defend freedom of speech” and “Political correctness is un-Australian”. I was now protesting against both groups.
Admittedly the PP rally attendees were generally cordial towards me, which was in stark contrast to PP’s and other speakers’ diatribe against trans women. Some enthusiastically took photos with their smartphones, some commended my signs, and some genuinely wanted to know more about what I was all about. In this regard, there was a disconnect between PP and at least some of her supporters, but either way, I ironically felt safer at the PP rally.
I only had one bad experience at the PP rally — a butch lesbian approached me, trying to get me to admit to having autogynephilia. When she couldn’t get me to admit to it (I don’t have autogynephilia), she then started quizzing my sexual orientation, trying to figure out if I’m asexual, for example. Thankfully I don’t have to think about these things as a Christian, I just have to think about being the kettle called black by the pot.
In between the two protest groups were two women who appeared from the anti-PP group, looking on. I approached them, and they expressed concern for my safety because I was standing with “hardcore Nazis”. I then expressed concern for my safety if I was to stand with the familiar faces of the anti-PP group. Familiar because I’ve seen them protest violently at other protests in Sydney. My bottom line to these women was that both groups are not talking with each, that they are talking at each other instead.
They then tried to guarantee my safety if I was to stand with the anti-PP group instead, so long as I don’t have hateful view. I then confessed that I am prolife on the issues of abortion and euthanasia. Apparently these was tolerable views to have, but when one of the women started to explain her prochoice position, a PP rally attendee interjected, then the conversation went on an emotional abortion tangent that then saw gentle police intervention take place. It was not meant to be.
After the PP rally wrapped up, and there remained some PP rally stragglers, police started packing up too early. The anti-PP mob rushed towards us stragglers, confronting us close up with deafening megaphones, “just go home” chants and physical intimidation. Eventually police directed us to leave, or risk a breach of the peace driven by the anti-PP mob to begin with.
In contrast, it was raining on-and-off on Thursday the 23rd of March, when I turned up to the Federal Parliament House Lawns for Round 2. Canberra is a smaller city than Sydney, so the usual Canberran suspects turned up in smaller numbers. Round 2 started out with me standing by myself at point of an imaginary triangle, with the PP rally and anti-PP crowd occupying the other two points of the triangle. And yes, I was displaying my three protest signs.
People took notice of this lone counter-protester, including Senator Ralph Babet who wanted to hear what I had to say. Eventually the anti-PP crowd physically shifted to my side, and then I ironically got lumped into this crowd by police, unlike what happened at the Sydney event. Whilst Senator Lidia Thorpe unsurprisingly embarrassed herself during her gatecrashing of the rally, some of my new bedfellows took critical yet civilised interest in my signs.
Not all left-wing protesters are bad after all it seems, or is it just the case that Canberran left-wing protesters are more likely to be weird like me? Indeed, I attracted the attention of a few PP fencesitters and a young non-binary trans person. The only way I knew this person (let’s call them Alex) identified as non-binary was that they wore a they/them pronoun pin. Alex was surprisingly keen to talk to PP rally attendees.
I put away my signs, and as a group, including two fencesitters, we snuck into the PP rally. Rally attendees could tell, partly because some of them recognised me from the Sydney rally. Alex got a mixed reception. Notably, Alex got into a somewhat heated argument with a PP rally attendee over child gender transition. It went nowhere, but I was glad no fight broke out, I made sure of that. That was the last interesting thing to happen at the rally.
Post-rally, some rally attendees invited me to the local pub for drinks. A gentleman (literally gentle), a butch lesbian, and a few others from different walks of life. Why not I thought, they want to be heard, and I don’t think they necessarily wanted me there to agree with everything they had to say. The gentleman commented on how unwoke his trans woman neighbour is, the butch lesbian commented that she could tell that my gender identity was genuine, and a lady my age took a selfie with me.
The butch lesbian was upset about lesbian erasure, perhaps the erasure of her version of lesbianism? According to her, lesbian butchness, breasts and vaginas go hand-in-hand, that there is no need for erasing this package so to speak.
It’s even possible that Moira Deeming was with us in this ordinary politics in the pub moment. After all that, I guess that now makes me a trans-inclusionary radical feminist (TIRF). I’m trans and inclusive of TERFs and trans people, and everyone in between. I’ve #LetAllSpeak, isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?
For more counter-protest stories of mine, go to https://www.spectator.com.au/author/dana-pham/.