On November 8 The Courier published a story about how one of Ballarat's best, funniest and most thoughtful cultural exports, LaNCE TV, was hosting a panel on transgender and diverse experience on their program.
November 20 is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and the story gave Deb Lord, one of the producers of the program, and Jeremy Wiggins, a prominent trans* representative, space to speak about the importance of that commemoration.
The story gave voice to people talking about the violence they experience. Sadly, published on social media, it drew the usual hate speech born of ignorance and fear.
Rather than let the voices of hate silence others, Deb Lord approached The Courier, offering responses from some prominent Ballarat representatives. Among them were former premier Steve Bracks and Ballarat's newly-elected mayor Daniel Moloney.
"Last week The Courier in Ballarat printed a story about Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). TDoR is an annual observance on November 20 that honours the memory of the Transgender people, inclusive of Indigenous Trans people and other Trans persons of colour, whose lives were lost in acts of anti- transgender violence. It seeks to highlight the losses the Transgender community faces due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence.
"Immediately following publication, The Courier's associated Facebook post received much negative feedback in the thread from certain sectors, who posted hate speech and malicious references regarding the hastened deaths of Transgender people. The Courier made a decision to remove the story in respect for the Ballarat Trans Community.
More recently, however, a post on Thursday about a Transgender flag flying in Ballarat for the first time, drew a more positive response.
"As a result of the online response from a few small but loud voices, the Trans community has received an outpouring of support and a show of solidarity from Ballarat organisations and notable community leaders. Ballarat stands united against this kind of hate and bigotry in our own backyard."
The following messages included are from prominent supporters in the community.
Mayor Cr Daniel Moloney, City of Ballarat: "The City of Ballarat is a welcoming community that supports social inclusion and equality. This is at the heart of our commitment to provide a safe, healthy, connected and respectful place for all to live, including the Ballarat Transgender community, inclusive also of Indigenous Trans people and other Trans people of colour. Violence and abuse against any race or gender is unacceptable.
"As Mayor of the City of Ballarat, I support actions that protect these values for Victoria's LGBTIQA+ community. We must all call out discriminatory and offensive behaviour as there's no place for it in an inclusive and welcoming city like Ballarat."
Hon Steve Bracks AC: "I am proud to see my home city making a stand in support of the Ballarat and broader transgender community. It is unacceptable that people are subjected to violence and abuse because of how they identify, which is why I support calls for the implementation of anti- vilification legislation for LGBTIQA+ Victorians."
Jacqui Dark - Australian mezzo-soprano: "It is with much respect that I offer my unqualified support for the Ballarat Transgender community, including Indigenous Trans people and other Trans people of Colour. These individuals have faced extraordinary challenges throughout their lives, and have met them with courage and resilience, having to fight for acceptance to simply exist as themselves. The abuse and violence which continues to be aimed at *Trans communities and individuals is cowardly in the extreme, and clearly highlights the ignorance and lack of character of the abusers.
"We all need to be better. It is not enough to simply not be an abuser - we must also endeavour to call out this behaviour where we see it and to act as allies to the transgender community. I call upon those with authority to implement anti- vilification legislation for LGBTIQA+ Victorians, to protect them now and into the future from the mindless violence, both verbal and physical, to which they are subjected on a daily basis.
"Lastly, I send strength and every best wish to every single Transgender individual who may read this. You are beautiful and you are precious. Remember your worth and the multitude of allies who stand strongly behind you."
Michaela Settle MP: "Ballarat and its region is a diverse and welcoming community. Diversity makes us strong. Everyone has the right to feel safe and free from threats or violence. I call on everyone in our community to respect the rights of Transgender people and end the threats and violence towards this community.
"Transgender Day of Remembrance, November 20, honours the memory of the Transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. It is a day to reflect on the contribution to our community from Transgender people and to call for a violence and threat-free future."
Jeremy Wiggins, TGDiCH Project Manager Your Community Health: "As a long term transgender advocate, our communities need allies to stand up and support us in the face of transphobia. Our regional trans communities deserve to feel safe, valued and respected and to live their lives in happiness, not in fear of danger."
The eSafety Commissioner helps Australians deal with online abuse. Visit: https://www.esafety.gov.au/ to report online abuse.