Re: Q & A Episode 5 Monday 29 February 2016
Dear Mr. McEvoy,
The Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) is a community based health education and information organisation which believes strongly in the benefits of peer education and the involvement of marginalized communities in all debates and decisions that affect their lives. Trans identified persons form a significant part of the sex work community, and many have reported distress arising from their voices not being heard on your program on Monday 29 February, 2016.
The dissemination of ignorance and prejudice about transgender people contributes to their ongoing stigmatisation and marginalisation. In practical terms, spreading misinformation can have very real and significant health and safety impacts. Ignorance and prejudice also drive HIV infection rates in marginalised communities. This is reflected in leading medical journal, The Lancet, which states: “transgender women are a very high burden population for HIV”[i]. At SWOP, we work at this coal face where we see the effects of misinformation and stigma translated into poorer health outcomes, violence and even murder.
We were extremely disappointed by your program because not only were there no trans-identified persons on the panel, but also none of the trans identified persons in the audience were allowed to ask a question. It is of utmost importance that the voices of trans persons be heard in this debate, as only they have the lived experience of being trans.
We are also deeply concerned that Mr. Lyle Shelton, Director of the Australian Christian Lobby was allowed to present misleading ‘facts’ including the results of discredited research on a subject on which he is not qualified to speak. To this end, we support the position of ANZPATH (Australian and New Zealand Professional Association for Transgender Health) as set out in their letter to you dated 06 March, 2016.
We hope that any further ABC television debates on this subject will be informed by accurate and current scientific data, presented by professionals who are experts in the field, and that trans people will be allowed a voice both as panelists, and as audience members.
CEO Sex Workers Outreach Project Inc. (NSW)
[i] Stefan D Baral, Tonia Poteat, Susanne Strömdahl, Andrea L Wirtz, Thomas E Guadamuz, Chris Beyrer, Worldwide burden of HIV in transgender women: a systematic review and meta-analysis The Lancet, Published Online December 21, 2012 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(12)70315-8