Even though I wrote this open letter four years ago, the content is still fresh and a reminder of how cruel the media can be when it comes to discrimination against transgender people.
Last week a beautiful young woman’s butchered remains were found dismembered in a very new apartment building in a well heeled suburb of Brisbane. Police found some of her remains boiling down in a pot of chemicals and the rest of her remains in garbage bags around the apartment. Her young husband fled the scene and his body was found shortly later after committing suicide.
The news riveted and shocked the nation. How could this happen in Australia? What is becoming of our country? How could a young woman, a human being be violated in such a grizzly and macabre way? We must do something about the growing domestic crimes against women in Australia.
The very next day, papers around Australia released front page news with headlines such as “The monster chef and the shemale”, “Cooked Shemale”, “Ladyboy cooked and eaten” -suddenly the beautiful woman was now a sex freak, killed by a pervert. Prostitutes and cannibals and sexual perversion.
The memory of beautiful Mayang, a human is reduced to dehumanizing headlines.
To many transgender people across Australia, the crime was greatly disturbing but the degrading labels of Mayang were sickening. The media does not care that to call a transwoman a shemale or ladyboy or tranny in Australia is like calling a black person the “N” word.
Even though the porn and sex industry use the word Shemale and Ladyboy in their product labeling to promote revenue, only a very small percentage of transwomen in Australia are in the sex industry. The media do not have the right to refer to us, a body people as shemales, or ladyboys. We are people, we are transgender women. We must be respected and accorded our human right to respect.
For too long we have suffered at the hands of men sexually exploiting us and sexualising our beauty for their own sexual perversion or sexual gratification. Men openly verbally abuse us in front of their friends to seem more manly. For this cycle to end we must stand up for ourselves and say we are not monsters, sexual freaks and porn stars we are human beings, we have a gender and you must respect us. We alone can say no, we alone can say we do not deserve this.
There is no specific federal law to protect us from gender vilification, which is what Mayang suffered in the media after her death. But we could change that, we could lobby to change the law so we are all protected across Australia, we have to start now, by saying “no” to being labelled so horrifically in the media. We must write in protest to newspapers, online blogs, politicians and rights lobbies, the change begins with us. It is our duty to contact friends who may be able to help or perhaps friend who have friends of influence. If we want the human right of protection from discrimination and vilification then we must ask for and demand it.
I urge you all my sisters to lay down your political differences and unite on this issue, what we do and achieve today lays the groundwork for a more just future not only for us but for the transgender community when we are gone. This could be our legacy for the future that we could all be proud of when we look back on our lives.
Let’s stand together and demand the respect due to us as human beings and refuse anything less of the media.
Transgender Day of Remembrance falls on November 20 this year, in Sydney it will be held between 6.30 and 8pm at Harmony Park in Surry Hills, all are welcome to join us as we remember Mayang and the many other Transgender People around Australia and the world who have been murdered through domestic violence and transphobia and neglect. Facebook invite to event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/177722666499056/