A LOCAL doctor has handed back her Order of Australia Medal, disappointed by the leaked news that former tennis great Margaret Court will receive the nation’s highest honour tomorrow (January 26).
Transgender general practitioner Clara Tuck Meng Soo returned her OAM over the weekend in protest ahead of Ms Court, the former world number one tennis player, being honoured with a Companion of the Order of Australia.
Over her career, Ms Court won 24 Grand Slam women’s singles titles, 19 Grand Slam doubles titles and 21 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles, and while Ms Soo doesn’t dispute her tennis achievements, she says the Council for the Order of Australia will be well-aware of the derogatory and very hurtful remarks she made about the LGBTIQ+ community and all who support them.
Ms Court, a Perth-based Christian minister, first made comments in 2017 when she publicly denounced same-sex marriage. More recently she made “controversial” comments about LGBTIQ+ lessons in schools, saying they were “of the devil”.
These actions have hit close to home for Ms Soo who was given an OAM in 2016 for her work with and advocating for disadvantaged communities in Australia.
“I have spent most of my adult life as a gay man before my gender transition to a woman in 2018. My partner and I were one of the first couples to undergo a civil union when that legislation was passed in the ACT and I am also one of the first general practitioners to undergo a gender transition in Australia,” Ms Soo wrote in a letter to Governor-General David Hurley.
“I therefore have both professional experience as well as lived experience of the communities that Mrs Margaret Court makes these derogatory and hurtful remarks about.
“For myself, I am very fortunate that I have a loving and supportive husband who loves me for who I am as well as lots of wonderful friends and colleagues. However, I know that there are many LGBTIQ+ people who do not have the supports I have.
“We know that transgender adolescents have the highest self-harm and suicide rates in our community and the remarks that people like Mrs Margaret Court make are very damaging to their morale and health. By giving this promotion to Mrs Margaret Court, the Council for the Order of Australia is sending a strong signal to these distressed youth that discrimination and prejudice towards them is tolerated in our Australian community.”
Ms Soo ended the letter by saying she would like to return her OAM as she didn’t want to be seen as supporting the values that the Council for the Order of Australia seem to be supporting with this promotion of Ms Court.
“By giving this promotion to Mrs Margaret Court, the Council of the Order of Australia is sending a strong signal to these distressed (LGBTIQ+) youth that discrimination and prejudice against them is tolerated in our Australian community,” she said.