You're quoting Antic - transphobe and spiritual buddy of Senators Canavan and Babet? Cooker.
Grow up, Senator! Kids reading about a girl in pants is not grooming
Singer, presenter and drag artist
November 19, 2022 — 5.00am
Last Sunday I emerged from a blissful 10-day silent meditation retreat to learn I’d been brought up in a Senate estimates hearing. Liberal Senator Alex Antic held up an image of me reading a children’s book on ABC Kids’ Play School Story Time. He asked David Anderson, the ABC managing director: “Why is the ABC grooming children with this sort of adult content?”
Thankfully, Anderson, alongside Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, shot down Antic’s words. Hanson-Young, echoing the vast majority of Australians’ views, couldn’t have said it better: “Grooming is a really serious matter. It is not for being played with by conservative senators to make headlines.”
Antic’s concern was that the book I read, The Spectacular Suit, was “about a female child wanting to wear male clothing”. It was about a girl who wanted to wear pants, not a dress, to her birthday party. It’s 2022. Surely this point seems absurd to everyone but Antic. Katharine Hepburn already kicked down that gender door in the 1930s, and the action was made so much easier because she was wearing pants.
I was read the usual books growing up, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Possum Magic and Oh, The Places You’ll Go. I was weaned on TV that only contained heterosexual characters, albeit smurfs, crime-fighting turtles and a talking bath mat. I loved playing dress-ups, like all kids do, and was raised by loving heterosexual people who occupied traditional gender roles.
Yet somehow, despite it all, I turned out to be a flaming, proud, successful and balanced queer person. Really, anyone born before the year 2000 grew up in the same world and plenty of us turned out lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans. So showing queer kids straight content won’t turn them straight. And showing straight kids queer content won’t turn them queer. Your queer kids will be queer regardless of whether you show them examples or talk to them about it. It just depends on how much shame you want them to carry into their lives.
A vocal minority say kids are too young to learn about sexuality and gender, that they are adult concepts, but kids learn about heterosexual relationships and binary gender roles from the moment they are born. Is what people really mean when they say kids are too young to learn about sexuality and gender that they are too young to learn about queer identities? Kids shouldn’t be exposed to age-inappropriate material. That is not in question. To be clear, I am talking about age-appropriate content adjacent to what kids learn about straight identities.
Is all drag appropriate for kids? Absolutely not, but that doesn’t mean that none of it is. Is drag inherently sexual? No. It’s performance that uses the heightened costume of gender to entertain. Kids see colour, fun and sparkles. They are not sexualising it. That’s something adults do.
Rather than acknowledging our shared humanity, detractors zoom in on the thing that makes queer people different – who we have sex with. Of course, queer people are much more than our sex lives but this preoccupation reduces us to “adult content”. Straight people have sex too, of course, but their identities are not sexualised because their sex is seen as “normal”. If you’re the status quo, it can be challenging to understand yourself independently of that, such as when you ask an American, “Where’s your accent from?” and they reply, “I don’t have an accent.”