LGB Alliance member files legal bid to ban trans women from drag shows
An LGB Alliance member has launched a legal bid to ban trans women from her drag shows.
In May 2021, lesbian drag king Jess Hoyle sought to hold a drag night for “adult human females” at the Peel Hotel in Launceston, in the Australian island state of Tasmania.
“We do not want participants who are male-bodied humans, attending regardless of how they identify. Lesbians are homosexuals, this is an event to celebrate lesbians and, in particular, provide a safe venue without unwanted presence, attention or aggression of male-bodied people,” Hoyle wrote at the time.
She made the argument in an application for the night to be exempted from certain provisions of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998, submitted to the Tasmanian Department of Justice’s equalities watchdog, Equal Opportunity Tasmania.
“[Trans women] who are heterosexual have pressured and bullied women to make themselves accessible to the sexual advances of men,” she added.
“As lesbians, we find it difficult to meet each other and be in a safe environment away from the eyes of biological men,” Hoyle said, noting however that she wished to hire a gay male LGB Alliance member to work as a DJ and cameraman for the night.
Tasmania’s anti-discrimination commissioner Sarah Bolt rejected the request, saying there was a “significant risk” she would break equality law by excluding men and trans women.
Bolt wrote in a July 2021 letter to LGB Alliance Australia: “The exemption application made by LGB Alliance seeks to go further than asking a person’s sexual orientation by requiring people to provide intimate information about their body to gain access to the proposed events, as attendance will be limited to people who are not ‘biological men’.”
“I do not see how this can be done without intrusive questioning and completely undermining a person’s right to privacy,” Bolt said, adding that doing so would be “offensive, humiliating, intimidating, insulting and ridiculing” and amount to “sexual harassment”.
Bolt also questioned why Hoyle wanted to hire a man when she claimed the event was to be “safe” from the “eyes of biological men”.
Equality exemptions are only given the green light by Equal Opportunity Tasmania if the applicant can prove that doing so would still “further the objects of the act”, such as a nightclub having an age requirement or a synagogue only allowing Jewish people to enter.
Bolt said LGB Alliance Australied failed to show how banning trans women would further its aims.
“An exemption should not be granted which seeks to control the types of bodies that are permitted into public spaces,” she said.
Hoyle has now brought a lawsuit against Equal Opportunity Tasmania to the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, with a decision expected by November this year.
If the court dismisses her case, Hoyle told the Daily Mail Australia she plans to go to the High Court.
She told the newspaper she doesn’t want to inspect the genitals of her patrons.
“You can sort of tell just by looking at them. You can tell by their voice by their walk, you can look at their hips and know they are a man,” she claimed.
“We’re programmed to seek biological sex, we are not programmed to seek made-up gender identities.”
Hoyle added: “I think it’s actually humiliating towards lesbians being told they have to include someone with a d**k.”
“That’s fine if he (sp) wants to be transgendered, it’s OK. But at the end of the day, trans women are trans women, in other words, they are men.”
Equality Tasmania warned that if the court rules in Hoyle’s favour it could throw LGBTQ+ rights into jeopardy.
“If Ms Hoyle succeeds it would set a dangerous precedent that would disadvantage not just LGBTIQA+ Tasmanians but all Tasmanians at risk of discrimination,” said the advocacy group’s spokesperson, Dr Lucy Mapstone.
“As a queer, cisgender woman, I know the overwhelming majority of Tasmanian queer, lesbian and bisexual women support equality for transgender women and oppose attempts to exclude them.
“Trans women are women. To say otherwise is inaccurate and distinctly anti-feminist.”