Facing down transphobia, fascism and fear

Protest against Posie Parker at Albert Park, Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland)
Image description: Digital drawing by @fufighterarts of a crowd facing away from the viewer outlined in black. They hold signs that say: “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance,” “Your Hatred is Totally Intolerable – Georgina Beyer” and “Feminism Means ALL Women.” The Albert Park Band Rotunda and the Sky Tower are visible in the background.

By Piripi W

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of my time thinking about the Holocaust. I was worried about the problem of what to do in the face of totalitarian power.

What if someone asked me to betray my cause or watch my family die? That kind of thing.

It wasn’t until my mid-teens that I found this passage by Arundhati Roy – it didn’t answer my question exactly – but it gave me some kind of map for living with the fear of being asked.

She wrote:

“The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while you are alive, and die only when you are dead. To love, to be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”

Recently, Kelly-Jay Keen-Minshull also known as Posie Parker spoke to her fans in Melbourne. Her main deal is picking on trans people, especially trans women. The story she likes to tell is that making society better for trans people makes it worse for women who aren’t trans.

She’s also a racist & has a history of hanging out with the far right.

Melbourne’s Nazis were delighted to see her. They paraded in front of her event, sieg heiling and trying to intimidate the trans people who had come to protest.

Victoria Police held back the trans protestors – assaulting some of them – and making space for the Nazis to parade.

If any of my friends were there I hope you are okay. It looked really scary. The sight of those Nazis kept me awake last night, all the way over here.

I don’t know whether to share those photos. I don’t want to give anyone else nightmares. I do want people to know.

The heart of the anti-trans movement is racist and white supremacist. The big money for the movement comes from white fundamentalist Christians in the US, who were losing the fight for segregation, the fight to control women’s bodies, to control people’s sexuality… 

They needed a new angle, and have openly said that once they “split the T from the L&G,” it would be easier to take us down separately.

There has been an effort to brand parts of the anti-trans movement as “feminist” – to try and recruit more people. And no doubt, some people have been sucked in who truly do care about the rights of women (at least the women who aren’t trans).

But the movement they’ve been recruited into has nothing to do with anyone’s rights. It’s about conformity, about propping up the power of the already powerful, and punching down on the people who are already excluded.

That’s why Nazis love it. They might not be so keen on the “feminist” branding, but they respect power and celebrate cruelty.

Perhaps it seems obvious that punching down never made anyone more free. But humans have an amazing capacity for looking away, even from our own suffering.

Fascism makes use of this. We look away from the unspeakable violence, we start to forget where the suffering came from. It becomes easier to blame the victims, to take a little more control away from them – to placate the powerful, “for their own good” perhaps.

For example:

Trans people have a high suicide rate. If you are not paying attention to the exclusion (and often cruelty) we face, the idea that there is just something wrong with us might be convincing. Perhaps we should *not* be trusted to have control over our own lives. Perhaps we should not be allowed to transition until we are 16, 18, 25… ever. Perhaps children should not be allowed to see us in case they get ideas.

Paying attention can be scary and overwhelming. There is “unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity” all around. There’s the risk that if you stand with vulnerable people you’ll be attacked as well. That if you stand up for yourself, you’ll draw fire. People who weren’t paying attention will think maybe you deserved it.

I don’t stand up for myself or others nearly as much as I used to. Partly, I feel defeated, partly I’m watching and trying to find a way forward.

I’m so grateful for the people who keep us aware of what’s happening, who stand up to protest, for all the queer and trans people living their lives & looking out for each other, and for all our friends and family who respect our strength *and* our vulnerability.

My plea – especially to the people like me who are a bit scared and uncertain – is just, please do pay attention. Please don’t look away from the violence and inequity & then blame people later for their own suffering.

It would be so easy some days, and the authoritarians would love it.

But if we hold on to our compassion, and I don’t just mean for trans people, but for everyone who is hurt by this society, I truly believe we will find ways to stand together that create more safety and more possibilities for us all.

I love you, my friends. Please be safe as well as brave. 💚

A placard made by friends, ages 4 and 10. Image description: three duplicated photos of a swirl of bright paints: blue, pink, yellow, white and red on a cardboard placard. The words, “Piss off Possy Paker” are written in vivid.


I wrote this before Posie Parker came to New Zealand, before she tried to speak at Albert Park and was met with thousands of protestors. Before the solidarity events that happened in Ōtautahi and Ōtepoti. And before Pōneke turned out thousands to celebrate her early departure.

I arrived in Albert Park after Posie Parker left so I can’t speak to the struggle to get her gone, except to say that I am grateful and glad. The scenes of support and love for trans people that she left behind did my heart deeply good.

I’m trying to stay in touch with that feeling, and with the people who stood up for each other. The backlash is inevitable and I hope we don’t get too caught up in it. Collective struggle makes new things possible, let’s explore THAT. ❤

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