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Activist Andrea Thompson calls for TransFolk of WA to be more transparent

Transgender rights activist Andrea Thompson has published an open letter calling on TransFolk of WA to be more transparent about their dealings with the Cook Labor government.

Thompson, the publisher of local music website Around the Sound, said she had concerns with the lack of transparency surrounding recent meetings with the government, and connections between Transfolk of WA and the Labor party.

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In October 2023 Transfolk of WA, alongside several other prominent LGBTIQA+ groups, met with Premier Roger Cook. Pride WA, Rainbow Futures, Equality Australia and Youth Pride Network also attended the meeting.

A media release said the meeting covered a wide range of topics including establishing a whole-of-government approach to LGBTQIA+ issues, urgent upcoming reforms, and greater support for WA advocacy groups.

Precise details of the discussion have not been provided, which has attracted criticism from several respected rights activists. Former senator Brian Greig said it was concerning the discussion had been behind closed doors.

Subsequently reports emerged suggesting that the state government was taking a ‘go slow’ approach on a range of issues including the removal of the WA Gender Reassignment Board, Equal Opportunity law reforms, banning conversion therapy practices and surrogacy law reform.

It has been suggested that the government will hold off taking action until after the 2025 state election. The Premier has denied the issues are ‘on the backburner’, but neither has he given a commitment to address them before the election.

While details of the October meeting have remained under wraps, all of the organisations who attended were signatories to an open letter released in January that called for the government to take action on the long-promised issues. The government’s lack of action has seen them being accused in being more interest in photo opportunities than making legislative changes.

Another photo opportunity came round in late February when Minister Hannah Beazley announced $900,000 in funding for the first ever Western Australian LGBTIQA+ Inclusion Strategy. The funding will be provided to local not-for-profit organisations Living Proud WATransFolk of WA and GLBTI Rights in Ageing Inc (GRAI) to support the development and implementation of the strategy.

In her criticism of Transfolk of WA, Andrea Thompson calls for them to be more transparent about their discussions with the government and be more upfront about any ties to the Labor party.

“As a gender diverse woman who is concerned about my freedom to exist without government interference, as well as for the freedom of current and future generations of gender diverse people, it is my expectation that TransFolk of WA should conduct its negotiations with government transparently, instead of refusing to divulge information.” Thompson said.

Thompson says the organisation should have knocked back the generous funding from the government, until the overdue law reforms were acted on.

“TransFolk of WA’s meek acceptance of the State government’s money and the likely further delay in Gender law reform indicates that the organisation has been outmanoeuvred by a government that has found the price of this advocacy organisation’s silence.

“TransFolk of WA should have refused the funding until the government made good on its commitment to gender law reform. It also should have refused to participate in the peak body until such time as the government made good on its promises.” Thompson said.

A spokesperson for Transfolk of WA told OUTinPerth that they had received a copy of Thompon’s letter and acknowledged her concerns.

“TransFolk of WA is a support service. We provide services to the trans and gender diverse community in WA. We also engage productively with governments and other organisations to advance the interests of the community.

“We are pleased to have received funding to support the organisation and ongoing engagement. TransFolk of WA has raised with government at every opportunity the need for urgent law reform, and we will continue to do so.

“TransFolk of WA will always prioritise the safety of our staff, volunteers, and community.” the spokesperson said.

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