‘Garbage’: New PM slammed over offensive tweet
"DOES he just hate trans kids?"
That's the question on the lips of families around Australia after our new Prime Minister tweeted 13 words on Wednesday and set in motion an unnecessary debate about young people and gender identity.
Scott Morrison shared a link to a story about a supposed "surge" in the number of children wanting to change their gender because teachers are "on the look out for potential transgender children".
He wrote: "We do not need 'gender whisperers' in our schools. Let kids be kids."
We do not need ‘gender whisperers’ in our schools. Let kids be kids. https://t.co/POzM26PXU5— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) September 4, 2018
The comments might've landed in the sweet spot for Mr Morrison's target demographic, but those who know what it's like raising a young transgender person in 2018 aren't having it.
Mel McKinlay, a mum from rural Mount Gambier, South Australia, knows how harmful comments like Mr Morrison's are.
She's doing her best to teach her 15-year-old that the world accepts him after he told her 18 months ago, "Mum, I am a boy and I would like to be called Vaughn".
She can't fathom how the man with the most important job in the country can fire off a tweet with no concept of how it lands in the hearts and heads of vulnerable transgender kids.
"The term 'gender whisperer' is just another notch in a long history of LGBT people dehumanised, treated as subhuman or otherwise perverted and not fit for society," Mrs McKinlay told news.com.au.
"Is the Prime Minister suggesting that teachers are actively indoctrinating children into the LGBTIQ community?
"Terms like 'transgender agenda' and 'transgender contagion' are terms that I have become accustomed to reading via social media pages that endeavour to reject our children and the legitimacy of our children's existence, but I am not accustomed to reading this type of garbage from our ministers of parliament.
"While Mr Morrison's remark may seem like a harmless comment on social media, it is actually a platform for hate speech and as such should not be taken lightly."
Mrs McKindlay said Vaughn wrote her a text message when he came out that was short and simple, but its implications were not.
She was proud beyond words of his courage and conviction but knew there was a chance he'd find life difficult at school, 500km from the nearest city where the McKinlays don't know any other families with transgender children.
But to her surprise, the school and Vaughn's fellow students never stopped supporting him. She can't understand why her Prime Minister won't do the same.
"Yesterday, I thought our battle was defending ourselves against extreme right wing conservatives," Mrs McKinlay said.
"Today, I learned that our battle is to defend ourselves from our Prime Minister."
Mr Morrison's comments were roundly rejected. Author, journalist and mum Samantha Maiden labelled them "utter bullsh*t" and "dangerously stupid".
Does does anyone really think kids can be “gender whispered” into changing their gender? I have three children and this is utter bullshit. The very small proportion of community that do have huge rates of youth suicide. This is a dangerously stupid tweet. https://t.co/ZsHyB9EQJd— Samantha Maiden (@samanthamaiden) September 5, 2018
Others piled on, criticising the PM for using his position to bully children and for "targeting vulnerable kids".
What a big man. What an absolute hero. Using the lofty altitudes of public office to bully children https://t.co/qmdaUXAyYK— Amy Coopes (@coopesdetat) September 5, 2018
The father of a transgender child wrote beneath Mr Morrison's comments that his kid was "doing great" … "but I fear comments like this from the PM himself could tip the balance against us.
"He's using this to score political points," he wrote.
The article Mr Morrison shared appeared in The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday. In it, experts claimed teachers were contributing to a 236 per cent rise in the number of children wanting to change sex in the past three years.
Dr Elizabeth Riley, who is quoted in the article, rejected Mr Morrison's comments.
"Let kids be kids? That's exactly what we are doing … and a lot of that is letting children be themselves," she told SBS News.