I’m 6’7” with size 15 feet and my hands are hairy. If I lived in Tasmania (I don’t), and I was contemplating a gender experiment (I’m not), new laws would mean I could simply sign a statutory declaration to change my birth certificate and become a woman in a moment of time.
You would laugh, but I’d sue you for offending me based on my gender identity. That’s section 17 of the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act, in case you doubt.
Women would know full well who I was, but they’d have no right to keep me out of their gym, their changeroom, their toilet, or even their women’s shelter. They’d be on the hook for discrimination.
But their concern would be well-founded. Most trans-women are lesbians (in other words I would still like women, for those trying to keep up).
Women Speak Tasmania have confirmed “numerous cases” of male-bodied “trans-women” gaining access to women’s only spaces, including gyms, shelters, bathrooms, and prisons and committing sexual assaults.
I could even sign up for women’s rowing. I’d have to be accepted. I’d win. They’d have to shut up. Or else.
In Canada, transwomen are even using anti-discrimination laws to extract compensation from women who refuse to wax their male genitalia.
I’m flat out getting a pair of men’s shoes in Australian stores, but heels would be a whole other nightmare. “We don’t stock men’s sizes, sir” the bewildered shop assistant would say. I’d sue her for failing to use my preferred gender pronouns (it’s ne/nym/nis/nymself). Bigot.
For the first time in Australian law, we are contemplating crossing a threshold. Not merely prohibited speech, but now compelled speech. The law compels us to say things whether we like it or not.
But the madness is not over yet.
As the activists say, gender is like a galaxy. It can never be understood, but it can always be explored (an actual quote from a gender-bending school resource).
My intergalactic expedition might lead me to discover fascinating facets of my gender previously unknown to me.
I might discover my inner aethergender, which is a wide, commanding and powerful gender. It’s ok to combine this with other genders, so I could still be a woman, too.
By reason of near infinite combinations of gender identities, I could do whatever I want. It’s just gender expression.
But if you decided not to employ me because of my frankly bizarre gender expression – like being an overbearing and rude aethergender transwoman – or you criticise me or tell me that I’ve lost my mind, you’ll be sorry. The same goes if you discipline me at work for bad behaviour.
The legal protection of “gender expression” may mean that’s discrimination and hate speech.
As mad as it sounds, I can’t find anything in the definition of “gender expression” (which has been helpfully included in the act) to preclude this.
I may approach a minister of religion with my transwoman girlfriend (that means we’re both men, just don’t dare say so). I may ask him to marry us. He may think he can refuse, but I might equally find his refusal (and his assumption that I am a man) to be offensive conduct.
The minister of whom I speak is in for a rollercoaster ride. It’d be a high calibre constitutional law case, potentially dragging on for years and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. It will be his perceived right to refuse to solemnise a marriage against my right not to be offended.
And so, with the world bludgeoned into submission, too afraid to speak up or so much as cast a sideways glance, my delusion would be complete. Invented in the confines of my mind, confirmed by the laws of my State, and foisted upon a powerless community.
Here’s the thing: my story is satire, but the legal principles I’ve invoked are all real. This is what the laws which passed Tasmania’s Lower House last week will do, and I’ve only dealt with some of them.
This is the state where it was already impossible to speak on matters pertaining to marriage, gender, sexuality or family without facing the possibility of legal consequences.
Two high profile legal matters were precipitated because people wrote about the Christian understanding of marriage. Another recent case means it’s likely that publicly or privately reading out the Christian scriptures which pertain to homosexuality is unlawful.
There is a plethora of cases being secretly mediated behind the closed doors of Equal Opportunity Tasmania, all based on this indefinable, inexact madness.
But notice something deeper.
Mad as it is, there are three big ideas which run through all of this.
The first is the idea that the truth is intolerable. It must be suppressed by the power of law and the state.
The second is the idea that how I feel in my head is in fact the same as what is real. My reality is so meaningful that it not only demands recognition, but it must be recognised by everyone else. The world must order itself by reference to my mind, not the other way around.
The third is the idea that nothing less than overt affirmation will do. People must be compelled by the force of law to participate in my lie and affirm my lie.
Is this a surprise to us?
It shouldn’t be, because those are exactly the three things the Apostle Paul identifies as characterising a Romans 1 society.
First, he points out that they act in a way designed to “supress the truth.” This is an ongoing, continual activity. It entails the living of life in such a way as to prevent the truth from dawning on a person and convicting them. (Rom 1:18)
Second, he observes the folly of the fundamental human idolatry which finally rears its ugly head – the same which tempted our first parents “to be like God.” It is the idolatry of the self – to “exchange the truth about God for the lie and worship and serve creature rather than Creator.” We dethrone God as Creator and arrogate that role to ourselves. We are the creators now. The contents of our brain, conceived in lust and desire, will be made reality because we wish it to be so. (Rom 1:25)
And finally, the Romans 1 society will crave nothing less than total affirmation. Not only will we seek to live our own way, but anything which brings that manner of living into question must be turned into approval. Why? Because anything less will enliven the conscience within which, though stifled, is screaming at us every step of the way, witnessing to the voice of God which says, “you’re wrong.” (Rom 1:32)
Humanity has found myriad ways to achieve these things throughout the ages. We have used all sorts of ideologies and structures. But in the end, they contain the same basic features which perpetuate the lie: the denial of God and the idolatry of the self.
But little do we realise that down this pathway is no happiness. There is no utopia here. There is no satisfaction. There is no wholeness or fulfilment.
There is only guilt, pain, emptiness, and disintegration. A situation that drives us to “rinse and repeat” – to keep suppressing the truth, to double down on the self-serving, and to scream louder for approval as if it were some medicine to replace God Himself.
All this, even as the whole human creature falls out of joint and distorts itself. Everything utterly discombobulates, both physically and mentally.
Ultimately, this is a tragedy.
Yes, we can satirise. Yes, we can shake our heads. Yes, we may even laugh from time to time.
But never forget the tragedy: there are lives at stake.