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Gender War
Gender War

Currently I am avoiding doing the final edits on my first novel, Geraldine, due to be published early next year. It’s not that the feedback from my publisher is proving difficult to incorporate into the manuscript. We’re circling the drain with some final text edits and a few timeline fixes and then we’re good to go. What’s holding me up is the process of letting go.

Society needs to re-examine the concept of gender and develop a framework for a post-gender society, in the process dismantling legislation, policies and practices that are prejudicial to the existences of gender diverse people. Governments must stop colonising the lives of gender diverse people and subjecting them to discrimination. Nothing less than full equity should be the goal.

Geraldine began life as a memoir. For around five years, I would write a piece, read it back, put it away to read later and then, on second or third reading realise I’d produced yet one more piece of lifeless prose so wooden it was a fire hazard. But I kept going, because I felt I’d led an interesting enough life that others might like to read my story. Also, I’m nothing if not persistent.

In November 2022 I attended a workshop on trans and gender diverse writing. I sat in a room full of trans and gender diverse people and learned that every single one of them also was working on a memoir. I left the workshop determined to take a different direction with my writing. I’ve always had a strong aversion to being part of any group. I’m not sure why, all I know is it’s me not them. In December 2022 I began writing what became Geraldine. Once I’d released myself from the burden of telling a ‘true’ story, given myself licence to create, I began to be able to read my pages the next day and still see the value in them. I was still borrowing from my life, in particular my timeline and travels, but I was writing for a central character who definitely is not me.

At some point, Geraldine took over the direction of the narrative. My original intention was to focus in part on the evolution of her sexuality as an integral thread of her story. When I began to write those scenes, Geraldine gently refused to allow it. I can’t quite explain how, but she redirected me at every turn and kept me true to her narrative and perspective. The more I wrote Geraldine’s story, the stronger her voice became, until I gave in to her and began to trust her vision rather than trying to fight it.

When I had completed the first full draft of Geraldine I read it back and was quietly pleased that I’d been able to write a novel, a work of fiction. It wasn’t my first, but it was the first that I thought could find an audience. I sent the manuscript to a publisher and, in fairly short order, was invited to meet with one of their representatives to discuss it. The meeting was one of encouragement and feedback that led to a second draft and, within a month of having resubmitted, an offer to purchase Geraldine for publication. I will never find the right words to describe my elation. The best I can say is, I’m excited for what comes next and wake up every morning with a smile on my face in anticipation of achieving my lifetime dream of becoming a published author.

Preparation of Geraldine for publication has required me to re-read and work on the manuscript through successive iterations of collaborating with an editor and, in this final stage, incorporating feedback from my publisher. Those re-readings have revealed to me that, while I have most certainly written a work of fiction, the narrative reflects my life and preoccupations more closely than I had first thought. It’s not my story, the central character is not me, but I’ve learned more about myself through the process of preparing Geraldine for publication than I have through years of counselling, sexploration, trying on different roles and guises and, finally, relatively late in life, becoming myself.

Hence the letting go, because every time I have re-read Geraldine I’ve learned something new about myself and those learnings have helped me put in place most of the final pieces of my jigsaw puzzle. It has been an intense and highly emotional process, and continues to be so. That’s why I’m writing this rather than working on what I estimate is the final three hours of work required to put Geraldine to bed. Writing Geraldine has sharpened my understanding of my values and my purpose in life. It has enabled me to push through the clouds of my existence and see the world with intense clarity. It also has made me reflect on family, relationships and my imperfect self, to the extent that I can’t go near the manuscript without crying — often tears of joy, but equally tears of pain and regret. Part of me feels that, if I avoid those three hours of work I can also avoid what I have to do next.

Without giving away too may spoilers, Geradline is the story of a transgender woman who becomes an activist, doing her part to fight for the rights of trans and gender diverse people. Some of the manuscript was written while a parallel fight for the rights of trans and gender diverse people has been ongoing in my home state of Western Australia. We have a state government that promised reform to equity legislation and repeal of gender laws more than six years ago. These reforms are an important step to providing equity for LGBTQIA+ people, but the government is quietly refusing to follow through with its commitment fearing political backlash and loss of votes. Meanwhile, they are cultivating and funding LGBTQIA+ advocacy organisations, deliberately dampening their voices in the process.

The current State government is the enemy of gender diverse people and is acting counter to the sanctity of our existences. And this is the Labor Party, the supposedly progressive party, Australia’s social conscience. Things will get much worse under a Liberal-National government when Labor inevitably loses power in Western Australia, possibly as early as March 2025.

Having been through the humiliating and highly damaging process of having my gender legally recognised in the state of Western Australia, I can personally attest that the laws need to change. I had to sit in front of a magistrate and his fellow members of the Gender Reassignment Board while he fiddled with a paper clip, refused to make eye contact with me and did everything in his power to diminish the value of my existence. I admonished him for his cruelty and challenged his colleagues on the validity of the law they were enacting, asking them why they would participate in such institutionalised brutality. I walked out of the hearing a woman — like I and the world didn’t already know that — and determined to do my part in forcing change.

That was in September 2022. Since that time, as well as write Geraldine, I have investigated and written about the progress of equity and gender law reform in Western Australia and my experiences as a woman in a world that would still mostly prefer that I do not exist, at least not in my current form.

I have launched successive attacks on the integrity of TransFolk of WA, the organisation the State government hand-picked to sit at its table and represent the views and interests of trans and gender diverse people. I have been critical of the organisation’s lack of transparency, ties to the Labor Party and undeclared conflicts of interest. I also have been critical of TransFolk of WA’s lack of acumen when it comes to negotiating with government.

TransFolk of WA have been outmanoeuvred by the State government to the extent that the voices of trans and gender diverse people have no practical impact on the government’s lack of courage in following through with gender law reform. This organisation has chosen to ignore the lives that continue to be damaged and lost because of the government’s continued adherence to the brutal and archaic process of ‘gender reassignment’ under an act that was once used to try to impose state-sanctioned surgical mutilation on transgender people who applied to have their genders legally recognised.

Where is TransFolk of WA’s outrage? Why are they still consorting with the government when they should be at war with them? Why is Transfolk of WA still accepting crumbs from the government’s table?

TransFolk of WA’s response to my criticism has been interesting. When I asked questions about their acceptance of funds from a branch of the Labor Party their spokesperson denied it had happened. When I showed them evidence of the exchange, they stopped communicating with me. More recently, after I accused TransFolk of WA of accepting blood money from the government, they blocked me on social media. Both of these responses to one of their own constituents suggest that the organisation is lacking in nous and inadequate to the task of negotiating with the government while upholding its value of transparency. Gender diverse people deserve better.

As for my experiences as a woman, let me be clear, this is not a matter of my ‘gender identity’ as it is currently written in the Federal sex discrimination act. To suggest that gender is a matter of identity also suggests choice. This not accurate and diminishes the existences of everyone who is other than the gender they were assigned at birth. I am a woman and I reject the label ‘transgender’. Transgender is just the latest in a series of labels governments and the medical profession have dumped on gender diverse people. In my lifetime I also have been labelled ‘transvestite’ and ‘transsexual’. I have been classified by the medical profession as mentally ill because I do not conform to their gender stereotypes, and I have been forced by the government to meet standards of proof that no cisgender person has to meet. The treatment of gender diverse people by governments and the medical profession is an expression of prejudice, discriminatory, and counter to our existences and wellbeing. No wonder rates of suicide are higher and rates of social and economic participation are lower for gender diverse people than for the general population.

This has to stop. Society needs to re-examine the concept of gender and develop a framework for a post-gender society, in the process dismantling legislation, policies and practices that are prejudicial to the existences of gender diverse people. Governments must stop colonising the lives of gender diverse people and subjecting them to discrimination. Nothing less than full equity should be the goal.

Over the last few years, and spurred on by the process of writing Geraldine, I have realised that radical action is required, otherwise complete decolonisation and true equity and will remain a distant impossibility. At the moment, the goal of absolute equity is not even being contemplated by organisations like TransFolk of WA, the leadership of which is obviously too timid and lacking in understanding to contemplate leading such a discussion.

If the character Geraldine has taught me anything, it is that I must play my part and risk my own existence for the cause of achieving equity. I must take personal responsibility without fearing the approbation of my peers, government sanctions or even loss of my life. To do less will diminish my existence and the existences of every other gender diverse person.

Therefore, though I may be only one person, I hereby formally declare war on the government and any organisation or individual who is working counter to the existences and rights of gender diverse people. I will fight, until my last breath, if need be, for:

  • Complete decolonisation of the lives of transgender and gender diverse people. Any laws that set out requirements for transgender and gender diverse people that are different to what is required of cisgender people, in any aspect of existence, must be struck out.
  • True self-determination for gender diverse people through abolition of the Gender Reassignment Act and it’s replacement with nothing. Gender diverse people should have absolute self-determination the same as cisgender people.

Any member of parliament, organisation or individual who stands for anything less is a traitor to gender diverse people.

A truce will only be possible when true equity is achieved.

Andrea Thompson Andrea Thompson


Trans flag crossed out Trans flag crossed out


Andrea Thompson on the steps of Parliamant House - Photo by V Graphic design by @miles.menagerie Andrea Thompson on the steps of Parliamant House - Photo by V Graphic design by @miles.menagerie


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