And what about the Mercury?
In the last few months Tasmanian Times has published several articles on the transgender rights debate written by women from Women Speak Tasmania.
Most of these articles were also sent out nationally as Media Releases. No mainstream media in Australia has contacted us to follow up on our views.
This lack of coverage is a matter of public interest at a time when there is considerable coverage in the media about edicts on gender ideology and language being rolled out within various government and non-government institutions.
The UK trans rights campaign lobbying for changes to sex markers on birth certificates on the basis of self-identification alone is currently being fiercely opposed by women’s rights groups and thousands of people in the broader community.
Transgender rights do not exist in a vacuum and have direct impacts on women’s rights. As women, we have a right to voice our opinions on an issue that will affect us all, including female children.
And, we have a right to express those opinions without threats of intimidation, retaliation, no-platforming, abuse or false claims being made to discredit us.
The Guardian UK covered the issue of silencing women’s voices in the trans rights debate just yesterday –
‘Nearly 200 prominent figures have signed an open letter raising concerns that public and private bodies are helping “close down discussion” about government plans to make it easier for trans people to have their preferred gender legally recognised.
Writers Marina Strinkovsky and Beatrix Campbell, actors James Dreyfus and Frances Barber, and Pragna Patel, the founder of the Southall Black Sisters Centre, are among 195 people to put their names to the letter, published in the Observer. “We believe the right to discuss proposed changes to the law is fundamental in a democratic society,” they write.
Today, Bronwyn Williams contacted Mercury journalist Tim Martain on behalf of Women Speak Tasmania. This is a comment on that conversation –
‘In August this year, Mercury journalist Tim Martain authored a four-page feature article in the TasWeekend magazine. The article, titled ‘Transcending Stereotypes’ gave a forum to several Tasmanian transgender people, and discussed, among other things, the legislative reforms currently being sought by transgender lobby group, Transforming Tasmania.
These reforms include an amendment to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1999 (Tas) that would allow transgender persons to change the sex marker on their birth certificate on the basis of self-identification alone. This would mean, for example, that a male-bodied person could become legally female simply by signing a declaration that they identify as a woman.
Legislative changes of this type are currently before parliament in the UK and are being strongly opposed by a number of women’s groups. Apart from the obvious assault on women’s rights to female-only spaces, services and facilities, it is naïve in the extreme to think some men will not take advantage of such laws, change their legal sex, and use their new status to exploit and abuse women and girls.
With this in mind, I contacted Tim Martain today and asked if he would be interested in running an article demonstrating the women’s rights perspective on the trans rights debate.
The answer was a firm, ‘no’.
Mr Martain said he raised the issues about which I was concerned with the interviewees for his original article and was entirely satisfied with their ‘ready responses’. To run a story as I suggested, from a women’s rights position, would be ‘fear-mongering’.
Mr Martain also offered the following – ‘there’s a myth that balance is needed in journalism’ – that journalists need to present alternative views. In his opinion, an alternative view in this article would have created ‘conflict, not balance’, and was therefore unnecessary.
Because, after all, balance in journalism is just a myth – too bad if readers are relying on it.
Finally, Mr Martian said he was ‘not prepared to write this story’ and assured me his editor, Chris Jones, and the TasWeekend magazine editor, Kirsty Eade, would ‘back him up’.
I enjoy Mr Martain’s writing. I thought he was better than this, and I told him so.’
It comes as no surprise that the Mercury will not publish certain viewpoints, but the confidence Martain expressed in supporting biased journalism is astounding.
It is a credit to Tasmanian Times editor, Lindsay Tuffin, that he is committed to freedom of speech, independent journalism and the role of the fourth estate.