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The TranScam Is Sweeping Over Australia

and Australian women are not having it.

Susan Hawthorne
Susan Hawthorne

Back in the 17th century, George Berkeley asked the question: if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? Philosophers and physicists have answered the question sometimes in the affirmative and sometimes in the negative.

A recent article in the New York Times prompted my memory of Berkeley’s conundrum. The article by Alex Marzano-Lesnevich was entitled “How Do I Define My Gender if No One Is Watching Me? Without a public eye, who are we?"

While Marzano-Lesnevich acknowledges that gender is a social construct, my brain had zoomed way past that statement as I considered the thought: “would the trans movement even exist if we paid it no attention?”

Like many lesbians, I have watched the expansion of the TranScam since the early 1990s. At that time, it was only lesbians who were troubled by the men claiming they needed entry to women-only and lesbian-only spaces.

”The Women’s Circus was divided when, in April 2000, a 'transwoman' wrote and asked if he could join the Women's Circus.”


In Australia, they divided the lesbian community to such a degree that the Lesbian Centre in Sydney could not continue. Money was returned to donors and the building sold. Sappho’s Party in Adelaide was taken to court, and the Lesbian Festival had to go underground in Melbourne.

The Women’s Circus was divided when, in April 2000, a “transwoman” wrote and asked if he could join the Women's Circus. The circus was formed in 1990 in order to work with women who had suffered from sexual abuse or rape. I joined in 1994.

Circus is a place of physical and emotional trust. There is bodily intimacy in balances, in double aerial acts. For example, in one of the balances, the flyer puts her head between the legs of the woman basing the balance; there are aerial movements that involve hands between thighs or on breasts. This takes trust.

There were clear boundaries for denying the “transwoman’s” application. He was not a woman who had been subjected to sexual abuse or rape. The issue of boundaries was raised, to which I answered in an open letter:

“Women living outside of the state of Victoria are not permitted to join; Women under the age of 18 are not permitted to join. Is the boundary 'woman' any less difficult to define than these rather arbitrary boundaries which are already in place?”

Instead of requesting him to withdraw his application, the circus members became divided. These trends are no different from trans activist invasions in other countries, such as the gradual wearing down of the Michigan Women’s Festival in the US.

In late September 2000, I wrote the following in another open letter:

“Since speaking out about the transgender issue in April I have felt extremely isolated. I know a number of women feel like I do, some have said so and I appreciate that. Almost no one else, with the exception of the Dialogue Action Group women, has discussed the issue with me. I no longer feel the trust I have always felt in other women of the circus, partly because I do not know any longer what you think (I except from this about eight women who have said what they think including those whose view is the opposite of mine). For several weeks after that initial meeting in April I felt like an alien walking into the Women’s Circus space, and though this feeling has lessened over time it has not gone away. I feel that for the most part I have hit a wall of silence ... I have always thought the Women’s Circus a most marvellous organisation. Inspiring. Dedicated. Irreverent. Fun. But I now have another series of words to add to the list. Disillusionment. Sadness. Anguish.”

For lesbians, this has been a long battle, a battle that has picked up speed since around 2007 when the Yogyakarta Principles were developed. These “private” principles, that are dressed up as official, have had a profound effect on entrenching the TranScam into governmental policies from the UN to the EU, to state support in Victoria and Queensland in Australia, to Joe Biden’s Title IX Equality Law in the US. His “Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation” conflates and confuses gender identity with sexual orientation as do similar laws already institutionalized or in process in Australia. The Coalition of Activist Lesbians (CoAL) in their submission to the Tasmanian Law Reform enquiry notes:

Who would have thought that the lesbians and gays who fought for the freedom NOT to conform to damaging female or male stereotypes and heterosexuality, would now have to resist an ideology which asserts that anyone who does not conform to those stereotypes needs to be fixed by medically transitioning to another gender.

Similar laws are being institutionalized in many places including outside western nations.


The latest TranScam move is to produce a document in which the framers want to undo laws that protect children and adolescents from predation by child abusers. This is contained in Clause 14a and 14g of the badly named “Feminist declaration on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference of Women.”

Shannon Kowalski, Director of Advocacy and Policy for the Women’s Rights Caucus, sets out their priorities at the 65th UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in April 2021. The Women’s Rights Caucus (WRC) is a global coalition of more than 200 feminist organizations, networks, and collectives that advocates for gender equality at the United Nations. It is not clear which 200 organizations these are, but if the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) – on whose website this appears – is an indicator, their politics are entirely gender identity inclusive.

The IWHC is a US-based organization that was captured by the neoliberal ideologues in the 1990s and ran a pro-population control policy which had dire impacts for women in countries such as Bangladesh where women became numbers. Farida Akhter’s book, Depopulating Bangladesh: Essays on the Politics of Fertility (1992) provides a scathing critique of this UN policy as colonialist and coercive.

In the “Feminist Manifesto” Clause 14g reads:

"End the criminalization and stigmatization of adolescents’ sexuality, and ensure and promote a positive approach to young people's and adolescents’ sexuality that enables, recognizes, and respects their agency to make informed and independent decisions on matters concerning their bodily autonomy, pleasure and fundamental freedoms;"

These sections claim to be freeing up child and adolescent sexuality at a time when sexual abuse of minors is being widely prosecuted – and it was feminists who, through research and activism, made those prosecutions possible. It sounds like a reincarnation of NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association). The "Women’s Rights Caucus" is simultaneously undermining women and feminist goals. The UN should be ashamed of itself, undermining the Convention on Discrimination on All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) provisions which were set out to respect, protect and fulfill equality obligations for women on the basis of sex.

It’s not only laws that are changing for the worse, there is also enormous financial support coming from a handful of billionaires who are funding, spreading and supporting the TranScam. They fund universities who produce research that is then used to spread the propaganda of transgenderism. Trans-activist academics are promoted to professors; or professors who were male before their promotions become even more famous as "females" and are selected to speak at Women’s Conferences.

This was the case in 2011, when Professor Raewyn/Robert Connell was the Australian feminist keynote speaker at the Women’s World Congress in Ottawa-Gatineau, Canada.

On the other side, feminists are punished for simply wanting to engage in discussion about the politics of transgenderism. They are shouted down as "transphobes" and "bigots." They are threatened by petitions; they are confronted by protests made up mostly of men now claiming to be women; their freedom of expression is curtailed; and some are demoted or sacked.

In a recent interview with Feminist Current, philosopher Holly Lawford-Smith spoke about the self-ID law in the state of Victoria:

“Here in Australia — and particularly in Victoria, where I am — they made it so that you can just change your sex. It’s not separate — there’s nothing to distinguish the legally ‘female’ person [i.e. a male who identifies as a woman] from the biologically female person. All the gatekeeping has gone out the window, all the requirements for surgical, hormonal, or appearance-based interventions are out the window. So you can now have a fully male-presenting, male-behaving, clearly male person who does the statutory declaration and is now legally a woman. Once [he has] that, he cannot be treated as male for any purposes.”

Holly Lawford-Smith has had protests against her simply for asking in a survey what impact the erosion of female-only space by pro transactivists has had on them.

The trans activists are very keen on being visible, but they are never keen to have a reasoned discussion. When this tree falls in the forest, will it make any sound at all?

AustraliaGender Identity