It’s almost a hundred years since my mother Nelly Dean and her sister Rita became stars of fledgling women’s sport. With a cohort of others they broke down barriers for women in athleticism, sportswear and competition across track and field, basketball, hockey, cross country and lifesaving. Both became state champion athletes and at 18 years Rita equalled a world record for 220 yards.
Regularly they and their accomplishments featured on the sporting and social pages in photographs and news copy, some of which Nelly wrote herself. Early women athletes had strong practical and financial support from men within sports and those interested in advancing women’s endeavours. In time these stellar sporting sisters turned their hand to coaching, mentoring and administration.
Since then we have applauded as women expanded participation into other traditionally male sports not limited to: soccer, rugby union and league, AFL, basketball, cricket, tennis, cycling and rowing. Performance, pay and patronage for women continue to grow. Our lives are richer for it.
New Sporting Battles
A century on the battle for free and fair participation for women in sport has to be fought once more as males claiming, or transitioning to be female, encroach upon women’s competition, dressing rooms, toilets and athletic opportunities. Floodgates to gender fluidity opened by the Marriage Amendment Act, bolstered by the Human Rights Act and every favoured woke rainbow interpretation caught us on the back foot, athletically speaking.
Following the 2019 issuance of Trans inclusion guidelines by Sport Australia and the Australian Human Rights Commission, games are to be reorganised on the basis of self-declared gender identity, at risk of uncapped financial penalties. Risk of injury and unfairness to women and girls has been subjugated to demands for Trans inclusivity. Female sporting codes must seek formal exemption for conducting their sport as they have for a hundred years. Bureaucratic stupidity knows no bounds!! I know how silly bureaucracy can be because I once supported a Retirement Village established 25 years earlier for residents over 55 years, yet had to prove to the Human Rights Commission they were not discriminating against younger persons!
In deference to self-declared gender demands we use “correct” pronouns, change language and meaning of words, indoctrinate children with false biology, foster an alarming mania of gender dysphoria, allow female-identifying into women’s prisons or into girls’ bathrooms where they have raped girls and women, now without protection or privacy. In the USA college women are missing out on athletic scholarships, being defeated by broad-shouldered (fe)male swimmers (transitioning). Innate male body structure and strength cannot be matched by females.
Thank goodness there are people like Liberal Senator Claire Chandler, who championed the Save Women’s Sport Bill endorsed by the PM. The Bill simply asks that males not play in female sport and ensures volunteers and local clubs don’t face legal action or penalties if they offer single-sex women’s sport. Good on the Senator! Of course she has aroused the wrath of Equality Australia, which campaigns for Transgender rights, which emotionally portrays the Bill as hateful and bigoted.
Acceptance vs Activism
From being a fringe issue affecting a very small percentage of the population, gender fluidity has come to dominate policy, agenda and debate as a result of aggressive Trans activism. Like Equality Australia, Trans activists emotionally evoke hatred and bigotry as they have with this Bill.
No one is safe. JK Rowling, a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community, has been ostracised for recognising two biological genders, and excluded from 25th anniversary celebrations of the first publication of the Harry Potter series which she created. Beyond silly! None of the precocious offended would have the opportunities afforded them without her genius.
Most people accept biological sex as male or female, just as we have come to accept the LGTIQ+ identifications, marriages and celebrations of Gay Pride. No longer are these issues. Instead of imposing risk and unfairness upon women and their sporting clubs, Trans activists would do well to initiate their own sporting category, the same way that women and disabled have spent years gaining recognition. Such an initiative would receive broad community support, just as have Gay Pride parades and SSM.
It’s a travesty to continue to prosecute a war for recognition and acceptance that has already been won. Trans activists are like the Japanese soldier emerging out of the jungle decades after the war ended, still fighting. Gay communities are accepted: dampen activism that divides. Support for women and girls does not mean bigotry towards Trans.
Religious Freedom Act
Last week’s Religious Discrimination Bill, intended to fulfil former PM Malcom Turnbull’s promise at the passing of the SSM Bill, to protect religious freedom, failed to pass the Senate, having been undermined by voting down of Section 38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act.
The package of Bills were intended to allow faith-based schools operate according to their charter, much the same as girls and women’s sporting clubs serve their patrons. Again, the gay activist lobby and some MPs interpreted the Bills as contravening the rights of gay students or teachers, without evidence of such having been the case. Being for Christian conservative values does not mean hostility against others: quite the opposite.
Once more protection for the schools and churches from outrageous, damaging legal action for doing their stated job was made secondary to the “rights” of a very small minority, already accommodated with compassion. Yet claims abound that the Bills threaten to wind back the rights and hard-fought protections of LGBTQ+ people, women, people with disability and even other people of faith, by allowing people to use religion to discriminate against others. Gay author and commentator Douglas Murray would call it monomaniacal – ever mad about one thing, hyper offended.
Practice of religion is a personal matter. For as long as I can remember people in this country have been free to declare and practice their faith regardless of what faith that might be. Consequently churches, temples, synagogues and mosques have sprung up all over the country to service communities’ needs.
Earlier conflicts between Catholics and Protestants waned as formal church attendance declined. Ecumenism brought Christians to closer understanding and value of each other’s position as keepers of the message, as Christianity came under savage attack from the woke, post-truth, anti-conservative elite.
Certainly Judeo-Christian values imbued in our Constitution provide and protect freedoms we enjoy, making this country an attractive one to visit and live. Destruction of the spirit and essence of our foundation is likely to result in concomitant destruction of our way of life.
As reported by priest, barrister, author and advocate Frank Brennan, three years ago, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, told the Parliament: ‘Catholic schools do not use the exemptions in the Sex Discrimination Act to expel or otherwise discriminate against students on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.’
Ms Ann Maree Rebgetz, Board Director of Secondary Principals Australia told the parliamentary committee: ‘Catholic secondary principals have a strong moral compass in relation to the treatment of secondary students in our schools. They believe that inclusivity, as a gospel value, must reign supreme in the treatment of their clientele. This translates into the safeguarding of all students, and particularly those students who are in a minority and may feel marginalised. Religious schools should not be able to discriminate against students on the basis of their sexual orientation and identity.’
When marking the 50th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Pope John Paul II called for a collective examination of conscience. He spoke of ‘the tendency of some to choose one or another right at their convenience, while ignoring those which are contrary to their current interests occurs too frequently. Others do not hesitate to isolate particular rights from their context in order to act as they please, often confusing freedom with licence, or to provide themselves with advantages which take little account of human solidarity.’
On gender and religion the battles have been won. Solidarity derives from the realisation we are all in this life/country together. Broad scale acceptance of diversity diminishes the needs for activism blighting the rights of others. Come out of the jungle. It’s safe. The war is over.