This open letter responds to Christchurch Pride’s affiliation with Transphobic Events ; Jocks Party and Blackout Mask Party ‘for cisgendered men only’.
We recognise the huge mahi put in by the Christchurch Pride Committee Members to put on Christchurch Pride annually. We acknowledge that this is done in a voluntary capacity and that these situations require huge personal emotional labour that is never really seen nor accounted for. We are thankful for the visibility and the myriad of exciting events that the committee organises, and the positive impact that they have on the wider Ōtautahi Rainbow Whānui.
However, for our Ōtautahi Trans* Whānau and for our Queer Rangatahi, we feel that it is necessary to publically engage; to be a visible group that stands against the transphobia inherent in supporting this event. We are pleased to see that Christchurch Pride has created a public discussion forum on this topic, but note that due to the content of many facebook feeds and the varying levels of impact on those involved, that the folx that this issue most deeply and personally effects (i.e. Trans folx) will likely not feel safe to attend such a forum.
Affiliating Christchurch Pride with ‘cisgendered only’ events is perpetuating transphobia. Whether the Committee/Venue intended to keep the Trans community safe by noting the venue was cis-only does not negate this. Noting ‘cis-men-only’ affirms the transphobic and damaging notion that ‘transmen are not real men’. It is transphobic. Trans men are real men. Trans men can be gay/bi/queer* men.
Not only does this negatively affect trans folx, this also affects cis-gay/bi/queer folx who are attracted to and/or are in intimate relationships with trans folx. By excluding trans men from this event, attraction to them is stigmatised. By supporting this event, Pride is supporting a damaging set of values which make cis-trans relationships or attraction seem lesser, or shameful. Pride is a time of year where marginalised sexualities and genders should be celebrated not stigmatised – and that includes the sexual desires of all queer and gay people in our communities.
Christchurch Pride has come a long way in supporting our Trans and Gender Diverse Whānau in the past few years; huge efforts have been made to make events inclusive. Supporting this event is a huge step backwards. It promotes this transphobia as a value of Christchurch Pride, and regardless of the myriad of other options on offer, for many Trans folx this will mean that they do not feel safe to attend Pride, because the organising committee has made space for transphobic events.
Christchurch Pride is the public face of our Rainbow Community, with affiliations to council. The implications of supporting a transphobic event as a Pride Committee has the potential to be used to further exclude our Trans Whānau from other events; if mainstream event organisers are able to see that ‘Pride supports venues that exclude Trans folx’ then it sets a dangerous precedent.
The damage that has been done to trans folx already by its inclusion and the transphobic commentary of many of the community members is significant. One of the first things levelled at those of us who make complaints is always ‘well, I don’t see you making events’. Please consider that many of us do not yet feel safe and welcomed by this community enough to do so, and this limits our engagement.
Remember also that in celebrating Pride, we stand on the shoulders of the generations that fought for our rights. Remember that the first Pride Parade was a protest and those that led the way, trans folx of colour, are still the least likely to have equal rights, and are still the most likely to be subject to violence and discrimination. If we cannot eradicate transphobia and discrimination from Pride, how can we expect the rest of the world to follow?
This is a moment where Christchurch Pride should be leading the way and taking a stand. Menfriends as a private venue can do as they like – they can be transphobic, and at least they are being upfront about it – it’s a bit like publicly saying ‘I’m racist and I’m fine with it,’ but that’s their prerogative. We note that other msm venues in Aotearoa are accepting of transmen.
However, if Pride truly values its trans community and their safety, these events are not ones that should be supported by Christchurch Pride. They should not be events advertised by Christchurch Pride, and they should not be actively promoted by Christchurch Pride or associated with it directly.
We urge you to remove this affiliation, to put in place protocol which mean transphobic events can not be a part of Christchurch Pride in future, and to demonstrate Christchurch Pride Committee’s stance of zero tolerance of transphobia.
Ngā mihi nui,
Emma Feather Shaw
Lauren Freyja May
Poy Ling Agnew
Sarah Ann Kelleher
Tabby Besley, National Coordinator of InsideOUT
And 1 other who could not sign publicly.
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