Divvi De Vendre, a candidate running in the federal election, says an article about her in the Daily Telegraph was inaccurate and a "put down" of her and her party.
The Daily Telegraph published an article on Thursday claiming a Sydney lawyer and writer named Anna Kerr had been "silenced" when a paragraph of a column she wrote for women's media website Women's Agenda, which detailed De Vendre's identity as a "transgender woman", was cut.
De Vendre, the leader of the Women's Party, said she didn't understand the newspaper's assertion that Kerr had been "silenced from telling voters" about her gender orientation as it wasn't a secret.
"I'm not silent about being a transitioned female whatsoever and it is on Google," De Vendre told BuzzFeed News. "I'm actually really quite proud of who I am."
But De Vendre said she "objects" to being called a transgender woman as "it implies someone who is still transitioning to female".
"I am a woman physically and mentally," she said. "The taxation department says I’m a woman, my passport says that I’m a woman, my doctors say that I am a woman."
De Vendre said she had never met, let alone "clashed" with Kerr, who the Daily Telegraph billed as one of Australia's "leading feminists".
"I've never heard of her," she said.
The newspaper article said the 76-year-old underwent “Facial Feminisation Surgery” in Thailand in 2016.
"I've been fully transitioned for three years now," De Vendre said. "I am a woman physically, mentally and my hormone base is estrogen."
De Vendre said it wasn't just a "put down" of her but of her micro-party, which is running candidates in two seats this election.
"This is a put down of the Women's Party and the Women's Party is not about me, it's about women," she said.
The Daily Telegraph story did not include comment from Women's Agenda or De Vendre, who said she was contacted by the reporter, Jack Houghton, but wasn't told when his deadline was.
"He called me and all I had was a first name and no confirmation of whether he worked at [the Daily Telegraph] and I thought 'well you've already decided who I am'," she said. "He did not explain when the article is going to print."
Kerr told the Daily Telegraph that Women's Agenda had labelled her "insensitive" because she wanted to write about De Vendre's "biological origins" in an article titled "Are women voters being duped?".
Women's Agenda publisher Tarla Lambert said she made the call to take out the paragraph.
"I was worried about the implications of it and how it could be construed as insensitive to the trans community," Lambert told BuzzFeed News.
"I acknowledge that it is a complex debate but as a publication we err on the side of sensitivity toward minorities and we are not apologetic about that."
Kerr has previously argued that proposed legal changes in the Northern Territory to allow transgender people to change the sex listed on their birth certificate without them having undergone any gender reassignment surgery would be exploited for "nefarious purposes". This argument that was strongly rejected by the Territory's anti-discrimination commissioner Sally Sievers.
De Vendre said she initially had "no intention whatsoever" of standing for election but many of her candidates fell through so she is now running for a NSW Senate spot.
"I was happy to sit in the job of parliamentary secretary and do a job of work," she said. "But we don’t have money to fund anyone else to stand so I'm running."
The main policy platform of the Women's Party is to legislate a 50% quota for women politicians and to close the gender pay gap as well as introduce greater childcare subsidies.
"Australia is a hard place for women and I don't believe even a large amount of men subscribe to our blokey system," De Vendre said.
Ultimately, she said, the Daily Telegraph's article was "free advertising".
"I love being a bloody woman for God's sake," she said. "The most important thing you can be in your life is who you are authentically."
BuzzFeed News has contacted Houghton and Kerr for comment.
Gina Rushton is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Gina Rushton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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