LGBT exclusivity – privilege in binary?


Photo: Michael Wright

Photo: Michael Wright

Within the last 10 years, major strides in the queer equality movement have led to the increased decriminalisation of homosexuality and major strides in the ability for transgender individuals to transition legally and socially. These accomplishments are heart-warming as they have led to greater social acceptance and quality of life for individuals who struggle with their identities.
However, have we really progressed that far when Marriage Equality and Bathroom Bills are considered the “great battles” of the century?
This may sound like an odd point to you. “Of course these are great battles” you may proclaim, and you are right! These are serious equity issues that need to be addressed. But in fighting for the rights of the binary LGBT, have we forgotten those with issues more drastic than our own?
Consider the following. As a polyamorous individual, Marriage Equality isn’t the full picture. To explain for those who haven’t heard of polyamory in the past, polyamory is a romantic/sexual orientation that simply means to love multiple people and/or partners. In the context of Marriage Equality it is largely ignored as polyamorous relationships are less common than monogamous (single partner) same-sex relationships. To give a personal anecdote, Marriage Equality is equal in the sense that it would allow me to marry my girlfriend, but not any other partners that I date concurrently. That’s not equal! My legal partnerships couldn’t be as complete as a monogamous partnership, as I would only be able to choose one of my partners. If they’re both equal, it means no marriage, no de-facto under the law, and no equality of outcome compared to my monogamous friends. And that’s assuming people even defend polyamory. While universities such as Monash, USyd, and UTS have signed the Australian Marriage Equality pledge, Western Sydney University, for all of its declarations of being pride friendly, have not demonstrated support for monogamous Marriage Equality through a pledge. If one of the most progressive universities in NSW hasn’t signed this pledge, what support (if any) would they offer to polyamorous individuals?
Furthermore, while Norrie’s Case allowed for some minor improvements in the way the law handles non-binary individuals by granting them an X gender marker on some government forms, challenging Bathroom Bills still leaves non-binary individuals undefended, while these equity engagements aid binary transgender individuals in their right to their own bathroom, people who don’t identify with the binary are forced into choosing a bathroom inconsistent with their identity or worse, sending them to the disabled bathroom, suggesting that their identity is a disability of its own right. Embarrassing and degrading. Even Western Sydney suffers from an issue with tokenism, where many campuses have a single token unisex bathroom which is inconvenient at best for non-binary students to find and use. It should be noted that the majority of University forms are still Male/Female with no room for declining to state gender or an “Other” option vital to feeling understood, supported, and encouraged by the University.
Now, at no point would I ever suggest we stop fighting for Marriage Equality, against Bathroom Bills, and for policy improvements within University. These fights directly support me as an individual of binary(ish) sexuality and binary gender. But have we not neglected those who face even worse prejudice than us? We all have a duty to stand up to injustices in this world, especially in the Trump era. But can you look at yourself and say that you have done your share to challenge the injustices against those who face tougher obstacles in social and legal acceptance? The way I see it, we all have more work to do. Queer rights are human rights. And no Queer person should be more equal than another.

Author: Maxwelle-Jane Dwyer


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