Why Australia’s Trans Day of Visibility Rallies Were Vital

Warning: This article deals with the topic of targeted violence against LGBTQIA+ people and may be triggering for some readers. This article also references sexual assault and may cause distress for some readers.

Trans rights are human rights. It’s just that simple. However, in a tragic twist, some Aussies have refused to internalise such empathy. And as such, last week’s Trans Day of Visibility Rallies were forced to be more than chill celebrations. They were rallies for survival. 

Melbourne’s Trans Day of Visibility Rally

Melbourne’s Trans Day of Visibility Rally.
Image: Victorian Pride Lobby

On March 31, a Trans Day of Visibility Rally took to the streets of Melbourne. It began at 5:30pm, with thousands gathered on the steps of Naarm’s State Library.

This rally was a response to the fact that transphobia has gained some momentum in Australia. It was also about how the trans community won’t be intimated.

“On March 18, a tiny group organised a transphobic protest on the Parliament steps. This tiny group was joined by a gang of masked neo-Nazis, who have spent the last six months terrorising queer events,” said the coordinators of this rally in a statement.

“They do this to intimidate us. They do this because they want us to disappear. They do this because they would love nothing more than for us to quietly go back into the closet. Enough is enough. This is our city, and we will not recede back into the shadows quietly.”

This protest was organised by the Victorian Pride Lobby, the Victorian Trades Hall Council, We Are Union – Pride, and We Are Union – Women. What’s more, it was a massive success.

Signs were brought, speeches were given, and a whack of cis allies turned up to provide their support. On April 1, the Victorian Pride Lobby mentioned that they were thrilled with how their rally went down.

“Thank you to the thousands of people who joined us in Melbourne/Naarm last night to reclaim the streets,” said the Victorian Pride Lobby. “You helped make it clear that we will always drown out transphobia with love and support.”

Sydney’s Trans Day of Visibility Rally

The poster for Sydney’s Trans Day of Visibility Rally
Image: Pride in Protest

Meanwhile, Sydney had a Trans Day of Visibility Rally of its own. However, this one happened a few days later. It took place at 1.00pm on April 2, with the protest kicking off at the Newtown Hub.

Like the Melbourne rally, this one was also focused on combating hate, transphobia, and bigotry. The organisers wanted to create an event to highlight the idea that trans people should always be safe.

“The militant growth of the religious far-right has brought intimidation to our streets,” said Pride in Protest, one of the collectives behind this protest.

“Not content holding queerphobic public rallies, they’ve intimidated activists and abortion clinics, harassed pre-schools, destroyed signs of support for sexual assault victims, and physically assaulted queer people outside of a One Nation event.

“It’s time to fight back and reclaim our streets! The far-right hopes to use intimidation, violence, and shame to force queer and trans people back into the closet. The only response is to be proud, visible, and organised!” 

This rally was also organised by the National Union of Students Queer/LGBTI and the University of Sydney Queer Action Collective.

With all of this in mind, how did it go? Well, Pride in Protest was stoked.

“On Sunday, April 2, Newtown was overtaken by trans people and their allies for Trans Day of Visibility,” said Pride in Protest on Instagram. “Despite the downpour, around 3,000 people gathered to take over King Street and march for trans peoples’ social, political, and workplace rights.”

“Pride in Protest wants to thank every union, student group, community organisation, and every individual person who made it.”

When is Trans Day of Visibility?

Trans Day of Visibility takes place on March 31, with events happening around this date.  Additionally, while this day is used to rally against injustices, it’s also to laud gender-diverse identities, their achievements, and their community. 

In 2009, this day was created by an activist named Rachel Crandall. This event was created ‘cause there weren’t enough cultural moments that acknowledged the importance of gender-diverse folks.

If this article brings up any issues for you or anyone you know, or you have experienced targeted violence, please contact Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), both of which provide trained counsellors you can talk with 24/7. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.

If this article brings up any issues for you or anyone you know, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) the National Sexual Assault, domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service.

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Related: What LGBTQIA+ Rights Are Like in Australia in 2023

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