Scott Morrison has refused to dump Katherine Deves as his candidate for Warringah despite appalling transphobic comments. Morrison tried to brush off criticism of his handpicked candidate, saying her campaign to ban trans women from women’s sport raises a legitimate debate, even after a series of Liberal MPs called for her removal.
Her comments show she is nothing more than a bigot. Deves referred to trans people as “surgically mutilated and sterilised”, said she was “triggered” by the rainbow flag and claimed that half of trans women are sex offenders.
Deves is a transphobic feminist who co-founded “Save Women’s Sport Australasia”. She joined the Liberal Party only last year and was selected for her seat by Morrison.
Her agenda fits with Morrison’s efforts to stir up transphobia to appeal to conservative religious voters and continue the backlash against the victory over equal marriage.
Trans kids aged 14-25 are a shocking 15 times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. But bigots like Morrison and Deves want to further ostracise them through banning them from sports at schools and in local community teams.
In February, Morrison backed a similar private member’s bill from Tasmanian Liberal senator Claire Chandler.
Sport Australia’s guidelines, while stressing the need for inclusivity, do currently allow sporting codes to discriminate against trans people. But there are a whole series of natural advantages that elite sportspeople possess beyond sex and gender attributes.
Attempting to use levels of hormones like testosterone to separate men from women has proven problematic—as the example of runner Caster Semenya, who has naturally elevated testosterone levels, has shown.
The majority of women athletes have expressed no concern about trans women in sport. We can’t allow the Liberals to use the issue to increase transphobia and discrimination.
By James Supple