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Curtin responds to comments made by Lord Mayor of Perth Basil Zempilas

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Dear Allies,

Like many of you, I was dismayed and disappointed by comments about transgender people made by the recently elected Lord Mayor of Perth, Basil Zempilas.

His comments trivialised the experience of trans and gender diverse people, as well as intersex people, and reinforced existing prejudices towards this part of the broader Australian community.  As Professor Sam Winter has recently pointed out, it is estimated that several hundred thousand Australians identify in a gender that does not match the sex that was assigned to them at birth and the experience of being transgender or gender diverse is recognised within the global scientific community.

We understand that comments such as these from people who are public figures can sometimes stir up other discriminatory and harmful comments within our broader community. Curtin University values respect, diversity, and inclusion, and any demonstration of prejudice or discrimination will not be tolerated in our community.

I want to assure you that Curtin University recognises and support our trans, gender diverse, and intersex staff and students, and that all are embraced as part of the Curtin community.

While I welcome the Lord Mayor’s apology, I support calls for him to become better informed about trans, gender diverse, and intersex people and the challenges and issues they face. It is important to demonstrate these words through action.

We are aware that gender-inclusive posters have been defaced in some of the restrooms at Curtin, and are working swiftly to investigate who may have done this. We will be removing the defaced posters and replacing them with fresh ones, and remind all students, staff and visitors to Curtin campuses that behaviour that vilifies any section of our community will not be tolerated.

I am aware that controversy like this is difficult to deal with, especially for those in our LGBTQI+ community.  If you feel the need for extra support, I encourage you to contact Curtin’s Wellbeing services for students.  Support is available through our Psychological and Counselling Services and the Student Wellbeing Advisory Service.

Valerie Raubenheimer

Vice-President, Corporate Relations

Ally Executive Champion