Trotskyite Safe Schools Program

Catherine McGregor, Australia’s most senior ranking transgender military officer until she retired this year, explains why she won’t support the Safe School program. (Pic: News Corp)

I am transgender. And I oppose Safe Schools

Catherine McGregor, Australia’s most senior ranking transgender military officer until she retired this year, explains why she won’t support the Safe School program. (Pic: News Corp)

On Tuesday, I woke in an Adelaide hotel room overlooking the Adelaide Oval. Apart from Trent Bridge in Nottingham, Adelaide is my favourite ground in the world.

It has a particular significance for me because on Australia Day 2012, both Ricky Ponting and I were awarded the Order of Australia.

It should have been the proudest day of my life. But I was in pretty bad shape. You see I was suffering from a condition known as gender dysphoria, which is defined by the medical profession as acute distress caused by feeling that my gender differs from the anatomy I was born with. The official diagnostic manual describes the symptoms of the condition.

Trust me, it is extremely distressing and it does not go away. Many choose suicide to escape the incessant internal dialogue and intense feelings. Others choose to transition gender to bring their physical body into alignment with how they feel. I chose this latter course, though I went pretty close to taking an overdose of sleeping pills at my hotel on the evening of that agonising Australia Day.

We usually find peace of mind but frequently lose other important things along the way, especially families, friends and jobs. We become the butt of jokes for insecure, angry blokes and objects of revulsion for very holy people who enjoy direct access to God.

There has been some pretty silly stuff written about transgendered people on these pages lately, sniggers that we are merely deluded cross dressers. Those with expertise in psychiatry and endocrinology disagree. When I was diagnosed for the third time with gender dysphoria I was desperately hoping the doctor would tell me I was schizoid or bipolar. He specifically ruled out any other conditions.

Next time one of your kids gets sick with a recognised medical condition whose advice will you seek? A columnist or a doctor? I thought so. Then maybe you can respect the rights of parents of trans kids to do the same.

Whether you approve of us or not trans people exist and will continue to do so. We are not going away. The precise incidence of the phenomenon is not easy to quantify but I now know hundreds of trans men and women. I know some terrific young kids who have chosen this difficult path at the same age that I was when I became of aware that I was different but lacked the courage and support to act on the conviction.

My feelings about the current debate are conflicted. Hardly surprising I guess. I have changed political parties, genders and suffered from alcoholism and drug addiction as well as going from being a practising Catholic to a non-denominational Christian. Goodness I am even left-handed. As one delightful cab driver told me a couple of years back: “Geez Luv you hit every branch on the way down didn’t you?”

About the only consistent thread in my life has been fanatical support for Queensland in State of Origin. Indeed, I have hated New South Wales since I could distinguish the colour blue, well before Origin was introduced. Then again, Maroon is more or less deep pink. Maybe I am sick after all.

But I do not support the Safe Schools program as the best way to support trans kids. I had been asked to be an Ambassador for the program and had initially agreed.

But when I learnt more about the political leanings of Roz Ward, whose role in Safe Schools is pivotal, I simply could not countenance it. She is a committed Trotskyite, who believes in the overthrow of the capitalist system and has expressed her contempt for the Australian Defence Force, to which I belonged for nearly four decades.

When I perused Red Flag, the online voice of Socialist Alternative, I could not find a single major issue upon which I could agree with them.

Safe Schools activist Roz Ward at a rally earlier this year, organised to protest the government’s review of the Safe Schools Program. (Pic: David Geraghty)

None of this gave me any joy. I risk hurting the feelings of some wonderful parents with wonderful trans kids. But I am more than my gender and that portion of the Left with which Ward is aligned sickens me nearly as much as the ratbags of Reclaim Australia.

Moreover, Safe Schools teaches a derivative of Queer Theory, which I believe leads trans people into a blind alley. Most of us transition because gender is important to us and we feel torn between our anatomy and our psychology. Being told to live genderless would have killed me just as certainly as saying the Rosary to feel happily male.

In adopting this position I have alienated people for whom I feel enormous respect and become an unwitting ally of some who despise me. But back on Australia Day 2012 I chose to live an authentic life. I rejected an identity handed to me by others. I am not going to have another one foisted upon me now.

Our schools must be safe for all our kids. Decent teachers and parents, not Trotskyites, can ensure that.



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