Moira Deeming v John Pesutto: Deciphering the Optics of politics over silent, innocent and disenfranchised CIS women
John Pesutto seems to be a man in a hurry. We have all seen him taking on the Premier in parliament on the issue of Robert Redlich KC, former IBAC Commissioner’s letter to the two top officers of the parliament. He showed passion & zeal and wanted to let Victorians know that the Opposition under him is, and will be different; it will hold the government to account.
Sympathetic media commentators happily reported the aggression exhibited by the new Opposition leader on the issue, suggesting the arrival finally of a strong and responsible Opposition in Victoria.
Then came the LWS – ‘Let women Speak’ event on Saturday, March 18, on the steps of parliament, an event advocating reinstatement of biological-sex based rights for women and girls.
The poster said: “Self ID is a danger to women and children, it allows males in all women’s spaces. If you want women and girls to have female only spaces, come and have your say. We must protect female only crisis centres, changing rooms, sports, prisons, and groups. Come and have your say.”
Moira Deeming, the Liberal member of the legislative council for Western Metropolitan Victoria, is a staunch believer of biological-sex based rights and parental rights.
Moira Deeming not only promoted the event requesting people to attend, but also personally attended it.
To Oppose the event there were Transgender Rights activists (TRAs) and to oppose them TRAs, there were neo-Nazi activists, offering Hitler salutes.
Of course, that made a huge optical blow to the world of politics in Victoria.
The Liberal leader, John Pesutto was infuriated that one of his own MPs Moira Deeming was seen in such a space. On late Sunday night he declared he intended to expel Moira Deeming from the parliamentary Liberal party.
A Dossier was prepared and circulated by the Office of John Pesutto which accompanied his Notice to Moira Deeming for the upcoming vote on Monday, 27 March at 10.00am.
On Tuesday, March 21, there was a push to indefinitely delay the vote (scheduled for the 27th) and a vote was taken. The result – a blow to the camp of Moira Deeming – was defeated by 11 to 18 votes. The vote on Monday 27th to expel will go ahead. Moira Deeming will get the opportunity to refute the allegations made in the Dossier before her colleagues cast their vote on her future in the party.
Post event on Saturday 18 march, Moira Deeming, in a long statement issued on her Facebook on Monday, 20 March, explained her participation (in part) saying:
“… I attended the ‘Let Women Speak’ event hosted by ‘Standing For Women UK’ (SFW).
“SFW advocates for the reinstatement of reasonable biological-sex based rights and against the irreversible and harmful medical transitioning practices used on gender non-conforming, autistic and gay minors.”
In my view, the inconvenience for Moira Deeming’s leader John Pesutto lies not only in her association with the group (SFW) advocating against the ‘transitioning practices’, but also her being seen in the same space as neo-Nazi activists.
I will be troubled if John Pesutto has issues with Moira Deeming’s advocacy on biological-sex based rights.
If he does, I believe he will have real trouble winning over traditionalist parents of girls in migrant communities.
As a leader, John Pesutto will be better advised not to ignore or forget the fact that not every parent is as woke as some rowdy commentators make them to be.
I have heard personal stories of girls coming back home and crying when told they may have to share spaces with others who were not born biological girls.
Those parents and girls feel completely disenfranchised, voiceless and powerless.
They see someone like Moira Deeming, offering hope and voice.
Parents in migrant communities are not interested in the controversial transitioning practices. All they want is their daughters not to feel awkward and encroached upon in their spaces; they want them to feel empowered to enjoy life guaranteed to them at birth.
“Is it their fault that they were born as female?” asks a father of two daughters who he says, feel traumatized at the thought of sharing washrooms and change rooms (at school or university) with those who were not born as them.
“How come they are expected to NOT have a voice in this?… and if they speak, they are labelled as anti-transgender… How is that fair?” he adds.
Not everyone is as articulate as the highly paid spin-doctors or what I prefer calling ‘designer intellectual’ who can deliver custom-ordered narratives. These parents feel their daughters and girls, for merely claiming their private spaces, are being labeled as “exclusionary” and “radicals”.
Expecting them to be voiceless and subjecting them to quietly ‘give-in’ is not fair, he argues.
These girls, DO NOT think of transgender girls/women as any different, less or unequal; they are simply not ready and comfortable being in their private spaces with them.
For these women and girls to be expected to ‘JOIN IN’ in the name of inclusion and NO LESS, is not fair.
One can clearly see the problem John Pesutto has. As a political leader and potential premier, he must be seen far away from someone attacking gender transitioning practices which is completely a ‘NO GO Zone’ for a politician anywhere in the world.
I get that. But, in muzzling Moira Deeming’s voice outright without creating space for a sensible debate on the issue, John Pesutto may be alienating a quietly suffering majority of parents, women and girls who feel scared to open their mouth for fear of being labelled.
“We have been consigned to the political dustbin by our woke politicians”, a mother of two girls told me.
“My daughter who is in a WhatsApp group as a youth leader, was TOLD they (the group) was against what LWS was advocating, without asking what my daughter thought,” she added.
When asked what would be her appeal to politicians, she says: “Please leave some room for us – those who are not transgender – we still exist – we do have feelings – we also hurt – we cry – we feel cornered – why? Just because we are not as woke… And it is not fashionable anymore to align with us?”
Clearly, all they want is not to be forced into private situations where they have to share spaces with those who were born different.
To that extent, they share and espouse what Moira Deeming represents.
John Pesutto’s problems were exacerbated when two opposing groups – the TRAs – Transgender Rights Activists and neo-Nazis just suddenly turned up there, practically gate-crashing in and then. repeatedly performing the Nazi salute sparking violent clashes and the political turmoil in the state.
For the optics of it all, Pesutto must act. If he does not, Daniel Andrews will have them all for breakfast.
Sadly though, the good message – standing up for (cis) women and girls was totally buried.
“It is shocking, but not surprising, to see neo-Nazis targeting trans people in Melbourne over the weekend. Among the Nazis’ earliest target groups were queer people throughout Germany, deemed to be ‘asocia’ and ‘sexually deviant,” David Slucki (he/him) Director, Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, School of Philosophical, Historical, and International Studies Monash University said.
“These Nazis will continue to target vulnerable groups and it is incumbent on political and community leaders not to use those groups as political pawns, which only empowers these groups. Governments must support the rights of trans people and the Queer community to show that this kind of hatred will not be tolerated in Victoria,”, he added.
What did he think of Moira Deeming’s conduct in all this?
“… I do think that the MP in question bears some complicity and responsibility for this – her anti-trans hatred is not inseparable from the more general hatred of queers people, Jews, and other groups targeted by neo-Nazis”.
Indisputably the public perception of the events (on the weekend) is not what Moira Deeming or any sane politicians would have wanted.
Sadly, any opportunity for a sensible debate on issues which concern at least half of our population was obliterated by the tactics and antics involved.
John Pesutto, who is a very decent person, in my view was ill-advised to go that hard on Moira Deeming.
Pesutto and the Liberal party need to solidify their hold on the work oppositions do in holding the government to account. An unconditional undertaking to be a team player from Moira Deeming, along with some clarification on what she did or did not know of the British activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull’s association with any supremacists groups was all that was needed for now. If at all, Moira Deeming could have been put on notice with the warning of expulsion for any future ‘political misadventures’.
It is not too late. Things can still be salvaged unless the internal party power-play has to take precedence for the political optics, which in my view can only harm the outfit and the two protagonists. Both can contribute a lot.
As the great Albert Einstein said – in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity. John has a great opportunity, not only to set his house in order, but also to lend a voice to the forgotten voiceless (cis) women and girls.
As far Moira Deeming, who seems to be committed to her convictions, for the sake of women and girls of the Victorian Indian community, I wish her a long career in the Liberal party and Victorian politics and would hate to see her end up as Catherine Cumming 2.0.