City of Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas has met with members of the transgender community following a widespread backlash for transphobic comments he made on his radio show.
Mr Zempilas had been in the job for less than two weeks when he told 6PR radio listeners: “If you’ve got a penis, mate, you’re a bloke. If you’ve got a vagina, you’re a woman. Game over.”
It sparked broad condemnation, with TransFolk of WA and Pride WA labelling his comments “demeaning and derogatory”, prompting an apology from Mr Zempilas.
The TV personality recently met with Jess Grayson at Council House to discuss her transition and she posted about it on social media with a photograph taken at the meeting.
“It was such a pleasure to meet Lord Mayor of Perth Basil Zempilas to discuss my transition and about the transgender and gender diverse community, along with ways in which the City of Perth can implement changes to support our community,” she wrote.
“Such an honour and I looking forward to keeping in contact.”
Mr Zempilas posted the same photograph on Instagram, saying listening and learning had been themes of his campaign, which he was continuing.
“This week I was given the opportunity to meet with four members of the trans community in Perth,” he wrote.
“Each of their stories is unique and courageous – and personal – and I want to thank them for the generosity and trust they showed to share them with me.
“As Jess Grayson has already posted about our chat, a shout out here to say thank you to a remarkable and brave young West Aussie.”
Many of Ms Grayson’s friends posted support for her, saying she was a “true inspiration” and they were proud of her.
One person commented: “You’re a more gracious woman than I would’ve been! Hope he actually took something away (besides good PR) and left a little less ignorant than he started out. He has such a long way to go.”
Another said: “What a great way to educate and inspire change, very proud of you Jess.”
Someone else wrote: “Well done, Jess. Hopefully this has opened his eyes and given him an understanding.”
Mr Zempilas’ wife also commented on Ms Grayson’s post, describing her as a remarkable person.
His supporters also praised him for taking the important step of educating himself, but some were still critical, including one person who wrote: “How does humble pie taste?”
Another person posted: “It’s sad that she needs to actually sit down and explain this to you. You are woefully unqualified for this role. City of Perth needs a mayor, not a shock jock.”
Curtin University associate professor in public relations Katharina Wolf previously told NCA NewsWire Mr Zempilas should have known better than to make those original comments on radio given his almost three decades as a media personality, and his apology “didn’t fly”.
Originally published as Zempilas in ‘brave’ meeting with trans woman