Moira Deeming and the death of Australian liberalism
Now even the centre-right Liberal Party is in thrall to extremist gender ideology.
How easy it would be if transgender ideology really was the benign force it claims to be – if trans activists really were campaigning for more love and kindness, and that those who stand in their way were merely hate-filled extremists.
Those naive assumptions are now the bipartisan consensus in Victoria’s state parliament in Australia. Even the centre-right Liberal Party opposition has surrendered to the zeitgeist. Last Friday, Victorian Liberal leader John Pesutto successfully engineered the expulsion of Moira Deeming, a young conservative MP. Her supposed crime was to have joined women’s rights activist Kellie-Jay Keen (aka Posie Parker) at a rally in Melbourne earlier this year.
Deeming’s belief that sex is determined by biology is now considered an extreme position in the Liberal Party. Pesutto says Deeming’s concerns about women’s rights are a ‘distraction’ from the state budget and the need to hold the Labor government to account.
There are, as ever, complications in the story that blur the edges. The Let Women Speak rally in Melbourne on 18 March was invaded by some 30 members of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), bearing banners with slogans including ‘destroy paedo freaks’. Videos show police allowing the masked men into the Let Women Speak buffer zone, where they were able to take up a prominent position and deliver the Nazi salute.
The incident gave opponents of the protest licence to slur the Let Women Speak organisers as in bed with white supremacists. Victoria’s Labor Party premier, Daniel Andrews, predictably jumped at the opportunity to tar Deeming and the Let Women Speak protest with a crude fascist brush. ‘Nazis aren’t welcome’, Andrews said. ‘Their evil ideology is to scapegoat minorities – and it’s got no place here. And those who stand with them don’t either.’
Less predictable was Pesutto’s impulsive decision to turn on Deeming and move to force her from the party. In the aftermath of the rally, he announced his intention to expel her, stating: ‘This is not an issue about free speech, but a member of the parliamentary party associating with people whose views are abhorrent to my values, the values of the Liberal Party and the wider community.’
At first, some in Pesutto’s party assumed he had reacted impetuously and would back down from his harsh condemnation of Deeming. Instead, he doubled down, refusing to back away from his assertion that Deeming and the Nazis were somehow in cahoots.
Pesutto’s inability to compromise by finding space for Deeming reveals his real intent. He wants to ‘modernise’ the Victorian Liberal Party, which means moving it towards the perceived centre of political opinion. It doesn’t help that he represents the seat of Hawthorn in the wealthy eastern suburbs of Melbourne. His constituency is heavily populated by university-educated professionals with luxury beliefs on climate change and other hot-button social issues of the day.
The rapidity with which trans activists have cowed mainstream Victorian politicians into submission is frightening to behold. They have marched ahead to impose their radical agenda with no barrier in sight.
The left was onboard with their agenda pretty much from the start – the Greens first, followed quickly by Labor. The capitulation of the right became apparent in late 2020, when Andrews’ Labor government in Victoria passed a parliamentary bill that purported to outlaw gay conversion therapy, with the Liberals’ support.
Conversion therapy is, of course, a practice that almost every Australian – Christian or non-Christian – would abhor. The bill was presented as a victory over bigotry, prejudice and hate speech that would end an injustice overlooked by previous generations. In reality, it was a Trojan horse for activism of the most insidious kind.
The bill effectively mandated the practice known as ‘gender-affirming care’. If a teenage girl claims she is a boy trapped in a girl’s body, or vice versa, the clinician must accept this as the final and unchallengeable diagnosis. It is now illegal to do otherwise in Victoria. This reduced the job of doctors, psychiatrists, teachers and parents to applying a rubber stamp. Loose drafting even made prayer illegal in certain circumstances, for a priest must accept the child’s verdict as gospel rather than seek guidance from above.
The bill passed smoothly through the Victorian parliament in 2021 with the support of the Liberals. This means that a person under the age of 18 in Victoria must now seek the approval of a responsible adult to get a tattoo, but not to change their gender.
The passage of the legislation was declared as a victory for the LGBT movement. Yet the attempt to align this movement with grassroots campaigns for equal rights or same-sex marriage is a sham. The majority of lesbian, gay and bisexual people who gender activists claim to represent are not familiar with the movement’s true aims and would not support them if they were.
Trans activists have succeeded in mainstreaming their movement by framing it as the next chapter in a long and heroic journey towards true civil rights. Yet gender ideology began in the universities, not on the streets. It is not moved by the plight of those suffering from the relatively rare condition of gender dysphoria. Rather, it is a movement that seeks to overthrow every institution and start again. Its leaders are people who mess with language in a calculated fashion and aim to destabilise seemingly fixed categories like male and female.
The actions of trans activists flow from a worldview that is obsessed with hierarchies of power and cultural grievances. Everything is reduced to a zero-sum political struggle. It is an attack on the institution of the family, the foundation of social stability in Liberal thought. It is an ideology that hastens the demise of citizenship – the notion that everyone is equal under the law and that race, biology or any form of identity is subservient to our common national identity.
The rise of identity politics, to which transgender activism belongs, is a sign of civilisational decay. As Victor Davis Hanson writes in his book, The Dying Citizen: ‘An entire generation of youth has grown up and been educated on the now mainstreamed premise that their ethnic and / or gender identifications define who they are at the expense of their commonality as Americans.’ The same unfortunately rings true for Australians.
Deeming’s particular distaste for transgender ideology stems from her faith as a conservative Christian. That in itself makes her a target for some in the Victorian Liberal Party, where an influx of Christians in the ranks has been equated with the practice of ‘branch stacking’.
Most people, regardless of their faith or political persuasion, who make the intellectual effort to see what lies behind gender ideology’s cant, shudder at its agenda. But Liberals should be among those most concerned. Trans activism is the antithesis of the liberalism of Edmund Burke, a philosophical marker stone for Australian Liberalism. It is also opposed to the pro-family egalitarianism of the Liberal Party’s founder, Robert Menzies.
It is not easy to see who might defend this ground now that the parliamentary Liberal Party is beating the retreat. What is certain, however, is that the activists will not be appeased. Transgenderism as a political cause still seemed like an absurdity until relatively recently. Who knows what absurdity the identitarians will attempt to mainstream next – and who is going to stop them.
Nick Cater is senior fellow of the Menzies Research Centre.
Picture by : YouTube / Sky News Australia.