The bashing of a transgender woman, Stephanie McCarthy, at Sydney’s Town Hall (Townie) pub in Newtown has exposed the discrimination and harrassment faced by transgender people. Stephanie was brutally assaulted by five men inside the pub while waiting to perform with her band, Love Maul.
Stephanie had complained to bar staff in the hour preceeding that the men were verbally abusing her, calling her a “faggot” and pulling at her hair. They ignored her and continued to serve the men.
Then, as Stephanie told the community vigil held two days later, “…one of the guys grabbed me by the shirt, pushed me and then I got king hit. The next thing I can remember, my head’s down low and I’m just getting repeatedly punched in the face.
“But then they let the guy leave. People who were downstairs have told me he was ushered out by security on to the [train] station concourse and told to leave.
“They didn’t even call me an ambulance. I had blood coming out of my eye, my ear, my nose, my mouth.”
Over 300 attended the vigil two nights’ later, expressing their concern that such a brutal attack could happen in Newtown, known for being LGBT-friendly.
But the Townie’s disgraceful behaviour shows how making money is more important than supporting the safety of the locals for the local businesses.
Stephanie now requires plastic surgery and faces a long legal battle for justice. Two men have since been charged over the incident.
Transgender issues are getting new public exposure, following the coming out of transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner. But Caitlyn, a Republican, has an estimated net worth of $100 million dollars, according to OK! Magazine. Her experience is vastly different to poor and working class transgender people, who bear the brunt of structural discrimination.
A new report by the Australian Human Rights Commission, Resilient Individuals, documents this.
The ban on same-sex marriage means transgender people are often excluded from the freedom to marry. Necessary medicines, and expensive surgical procedures, are not listed on the Medicare schedule—effectively excluding the poor from the treatment they need or want. Surgical procedures “can cost upwards of $50,000”.
In addition, in most states, a person must be unmarried and/or provide evidence of a surgical procedure in order to meet the requirements for a change of legal sex on birth certificates in Australia.
This discrimination sends a signal across society that transgender people are inferior and undeserving of respect. The same report found “Almost 75 per cent of survey respondents reported experiencing some type of bullying, harassment or violence” because of their gender expression.
By Amy Thomas