Hairy Man in Silly Dress Cries ‘Respect!’

Timothy Cootes

ABC content producers, I surmise, are under the impression that the Australian public hasn’t had quite enough queer content of late. Although our ABC provided celebratory and at times even reverent coverage of Sydney’s WorldPride last month, when the party ended there was an urgent need for new rainbow-themed programming.

My readers, I suspect, have probably skipped the latest offering from iview, Queerstralia, a documentary series on the allegedly neglected history of our nation’s LGBTQIA+ movement and its key figures. Similarly, for those Quadrant readers not on Instagram, the most recent investment of our tax dollars may have gone unnoticed. I refer to ABCQueer, a social media channel which promotes both trans allyship and the view that the gender binary arrived —  yes, I wish I was joking — with the First Fleet.

And yet, as Q&A bookers must have lamented, there was still a shortage of queer representation on ABC screens, which is probably why Deni Todorovic (above) turned up on the flagship panel show on Monday night. Mr Todorovic, for those who have remained until now happily unaware, is a non-binary author, transgender activist and podcast host. He enjoyed quite a bit of attention last month when women’s swimwear company Seafolly marked International Women’s Day celebrations by making him a brand ambassador. An odd choice, one might have reasonably thought, although the photoshoot with Todorovic accoutred in a lime-green bikini had many customers reaching for more derogatory adjectives.

Facing the backlash, Todorovic sniffed about his wounded feelings but instructed the naysayers to get over it: some women, he averred, have penises. Not long ago, as you’ll recall, a belief like this might have made one sound like an asylum escapee, even in elite circles; today, however, any failure to affirm this orthodoxy is quickly followed by the usual whinging about transphobia, which was just one of Todorovic’s talking points on Q&A.

He squared off against Victorian Liberal Party president Greg Mirabella, who offered a tepid defence of the brilliant and embattled MP Moira Deeming. Deeming, who has just received a nine-month suspension from her own party, participated in a Melbourne women’s rights rally organised by British activist Posie Parker. According to our cretinous politicians and media, however, there was little to no difference between Deeming and the neo-Nazis who gatecrashed the event.

I must admit it was tricky work to sift through all of Todorovic’s non-sequiturs, especially when he was banging on about micro-aggressions and the intergenerational trauma he’d supposedly suffered.  His anxiety about choosing the men’s or women’s bathroom when in public, I thought, was yet another example of his narcissistic windbaggery, though the crowd seemed to like it.

One of his more clearly expressed suggestions, that Parker’s and Deeming’s views extended to the desire to kill transgender children, went unchallenged by host Stan Grant and the other panellists. Warming to his subject, Todorovic added to his contemptible slur that Deeming’s punishment was inadequate and she deserved expulsion. He really lapped up the audience’s cheers for that remark.

When Mirabella tried to explain Deeming’s pro-women’s rights positions, an exasperated Todorovic threw back the customary phrase: “But trans women are women!” This, apparently, clinched the argument, as a pusillanimous Mirabella refused even to raise a sceptical eyebrow at such an obvious lie.

Now, I generally try to avoid both watching and writing about Q&A, which is a risible program just waiting to be cancelled. This showdown, however, between Todorovic and a Liberal representative illuminates, I think, the party’s possible paths ahead.

Todorovic offered to spend at least 90 minutes in the Liberals’ party room, where he would presumably inform everyone of the entreaties of the LGBTQIA+ community. “I’m simply asking,” he simpered, “for a seat at the table.” Regrettably, I think more than a few MPs would be open to the general thrust of such a stupid idea.

In the last few weeks, there’s been some loose talk about both the direction and fate of the Liberal Party. For its own survival, some have urged, it needs to modernise, which apparently involves becoming indistinguishable from the Greens on culture war issues. It may not be in the spirit of inclusion and diversity, but I would simply argue that a transactivist loon like Deni Todorovic and any of his sympathisers be left out of consultations. It would be a serious mistake to do otherwise. The backlash against the transgender activist movement isn’t on its way — it’s already here and it’s only going to get more energetic. Transgender demands are incompatible with women’s sex-based rights, and there needs to be a party to represent the views of men and women who know precisely what words like men and women mean.

Todorovic, the habitual liar, told the Q&A audience, “All we want is to be respected.” To show that respect with any kind of sincerity, consider what you’re going to have to allow: the entry of biological men into women’s bathrooms as well as their dominance of women’s sporting categories; the extirpation from the language a word like mother and its replacement with chest feeder or uterus-haver; agreement on absurdities like the ability of men to give birth; the enthusiastic embrace of drag queen story hour and irreversible medical treatment for minors. This list, by the way, will get updated any minute now, as new demands for “inclusivity” are imagined and your respect is continually tested.

So, no, I think we can happily ignore Deni Todorovic’s policy preferences for the Liberal Party, just as I have ignored — I realise at this late point in the essay — his preferred pronouns. The Q&A producers even added the requisite they/them to the broadcast supers for their non-binary guest, but I must have failed to notice.

Todorovic and his co-aggrieved might think me deliberately disrespectful, but I guess that’s the remedial lesson to take from this episode: we shouldn’t care what they think.

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Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

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