If you read the desperate flailing attempt at journalism that was the BBC’s recent expulsion against trans people, I feel sorry for you- It’s wording is still rattling around my brain and frustrating me. I, and what I take as thousands of other people received a similarly poorly written response from the BBC where they endorsed their own transphobic nonsense. This state sponsored culture war against trans people hurts the LGBTQ+ community and cis women- the only benefactors? Cis men. It’s past time the community and it’s allies take this besmirching with patience- and take the fight back to the media.
I get asked perhaps once, twice a week, “are you trans?” because I spend a lot of time talking about trans issues. I don’t think it matters whether I am or not, I’m standing up for a minority who are being dragged through our offal filled rivers backwards and I don’t have to be part of that minority. The sad fact is as well that people just don’t listen to trans people about their own issues, even if you platform them- they will gasp, exclaim and swear if a cis person explains the horrors that trans people face, but blithely ignore trans activists who speak out.
Which is why I’m so disappointed in cis allies- there are many, many people who agree that this endless gushing rhetoric in the presses about trans people and their allies is wrong, sick, disgusting, inaccurate- and dangerous. For only so long can this thumb twiddling “we’re trying to sit in the middle but here’s another piece about how terrible trans people are and no rebuttal from trans people themselves” narrative be pushed before it will- IT WILL- spill over into physical violence. And how will that go? If the victim is murdered, they can’t speak. If they survive their words won’t be published. And if they fight back- dangerous trans people attack innocent defenders! It’s a tale as old as time, and as frightening to minorities as it may seem- we cannot win for losing. And with what seems to be most media outlets happy to continue to platform anti trans rhetoric, our possibilities of publishing rebuttals, statements- anything that allows a platform for trans folk and their allies- continues to shrink.
Gender Critical people seem to believe that this mainstreaming of their beliefs is a sign that they’re “winning”- forgetting as they always do that hateful ideology is disturbingly available in the mainstream and it doesn’t make it right- or even the moral majority. Racism was widely platformed as racial segregation was rolled back in the US- in the 70s, 80s- the 90s it was common to read anti gay articles.
The parallels that run between the anti gay moral panic and the current transphobic ones are so blatant once pointed out that it seems amazing that transphobia persists in the face of proof that it’s recycled homophobia.
Arguments we’ve heard before from:
“If we accept the gays we’ll be asked to sleep with them next”
“They’re destroying the modern way of life”
“They’re perverts and we shouldn’t have to share facilities with them”
Are these facets of the moral panic proven? No- no proof of any of it exists.
In fact, the prevalence of the opposite side being involved in their arguments against trans people is almost comical. How often anti gay preachers are found in clinches with other men- one has to wonder how many voices against trans folk are simply fetishists of trans people in the privacy of their own home? One wonders how many moral panics are sparked or inflamed by people furious with their own biological urges- desperate to place blame for attraction at the feet of those who simply exist in the bodies and states they have and are.
Back to the media- the regular dirge of stories demonising trans people serves only to enable and embolden a society that conflates “different” with “devious”.
From Ofcom leaving stonewall’s diversity scheme to the BBC’s increasingly frequent promotion of hateful ideology, this problem is widespread, systemic- and being pushed by a handful of loud voices and a smattering of quiet ones.
The idea that trans rights are in conflict with womens’ rights just isn’t true. Starting with the simple fact that over 50% of women in the UK agree that trans women are women, and even more women agree that trans women are not a threat to cis women- but even if you don’t agree, the confusion and stupidity around this debate continues to frustrate those in it’s periphery along with those it directly involves.
If anti trans people believe they should be able to challenge anyone they don’t feel is cis, there will be a great number of women whose looks do not fit this mysterious “not patriarchal but doesn’t fit my idea of feminine”, who are challenged pointlessly- regardless of whether they were trans or not. I have to wonder how the “we can always tell” crowd plan to police these things. Sometimes in public I will see someone and have absolutely no idea what gender they are and the fact and key difference is- I don’t care.
The point that never gets spoken about in detail is that the concerns so regularly espoused by anti trans activists are already addressed. In existing legislation, there exists exemptions where, as a last resort, trans women can be separated- there is this elusive victory the gender critical group want- already delivered. But it isn’t enough, and this is where the obvious lie crumbles whilst somehow still standing. It’s not and it’s never been about a credible argument against trans people: it’s always been about demonising a minority. Every single instance of a trans person failing to be a paragon of virtue is instantly snapped up by a group and banded about, used to justify pre-conceptions. But of course a group as large and varied as trans people has darker elements- should the whole group be castigated because of the behaviour of a few? The frightening answer from gender critical believers is – yes.
The article the BBC wrote was terrible in many ways- not the least, poor writing. Cobbled together with supposed months of research, the article is contrived and clearly has an agenda driving it.
I attach below the body of the response to the complaint that everyone who wrote to the BBC received;
The complaint is masterful in only the flippancy and dismissal of it’s tone. Not one point I made was addressed, as my initial complaint asked the BBC why it wished to place itself at odds with trans people and platform dangerous stories which would- not could, but would- increase the threat to them. They particularly focus on the survey they included.
Let’s speak about this survey.
Hosted by “Get the L out”, an organisation formed by transphobic lesbians to pigeonhole trans lesbians and trans women in general, 40 out of 80 respondents confirmed that they had felt pressured into sex with trans lesbians. I can’t speak to these experiences- I don’t know the people involved and I certainly wouldn’t say that no trans people would pressure others for sex- its proscriptive to say that you know how a minority would behave. But does it not perhaps seem a bit odd that the BBC are happy to use a survey, conducted by an already trans averse organisation, completed by 80 people, half of whom agree with the transphobic rhetoric of being pressured into sex? Of course people will agree with the transphobic question if they are part of a transphobic organisation… It’s hardly a reputable source.
But lets examine the respondents further: one of the 40 lesbians who responded confirming they felt pressured into sex with trans people – is a self admitted pervert who has sexually assaulted multiple women, talked women she has had sex with out of using sexual safety products, and with vast corroborative stories from her victims and an apology from her freely available on the internet- so yet again we hark back to my earlier point that the loudest voices are usually talking about themselves. Seems that the “fully researched article” is somewhat hypocritical, as this very important part was either omitted by mistake – or purposefully.
To allow a person who has literally admitted to sexual assault to cast aspersions on others is highly ironic and – I would think we can all agree- admittedly poor journalism. Hardly the type of person whose words can be trusted.
Spurious allegations from dubious sources seems to be what’s accepted for BBC journalism in the current climate – a worrying development but not one unfamiliar to the minorities the BBC have historically worked to denigrate.
Further to this though, more allegations in the article can be debunked: a section of writing is devoted to stickers with the inclusive pride flag as a backing, which state “Genital preferences are transphobic”. This is, as anyone sane in the fight for trans equality knows, a transphobic nonsense phrase. Genital preferences, most trans people will tell you, are not transphobic- stating you won’t even entertain the idea of dating a trans person because of what you assume are their genitals – is. Quite a simple concept. The proof that these stickers belong to the gender critical people is fairly blatant- they are stuck up with other transphobic stickers, even in the photos in the article- but a thoroughly debunked letter stating the same thing was sent to several organisations in early 2020 along with this sticker. The letter was quickly linked back to… a small cadre of gender critical people.
Is this what we now accept as, and what passes for, thorough, rounded journalism? Or are we to accept that our national broadcaster are willing to sell out their credibility because they have been asked to promote and push a ridiculous culture war, aimed at a group of people who are easy to demonise?
My followup to the BBC’s offensively blithe response is below for your perusal:
And worse still than the BBC’s uncaring response: more journalists come out to defend the piece and the writer!
The overarching problem is this glass shield of “impartiality” which the BBC wishes to stand behind. I have seen no articles by trans people or trans allies denouncing the ties that gender critical people have to the far right – from the confused collaboration of a group of TERFS who started off protesting with – but then were attacked (and one even stabbed by) the proud boys, to Andy Ngo- literal fascist- being given a press badge at the LGB Alliance conference- one has to wonder at what point those who aren’t so extreme may decide that siding with gender critical people puts them too close to the far right.
Where also are the pieces highlighting the problems that trans folk face on the daily, from a healthcare system which seems to actively work against them to allowances the government make in legislation against conversion therapy to allow people -people who will be seeking conversion therapy because they hate or fear themselves and wish to change themselves- to give “informed consent” for therapy – effectively making any bans useless: Nobody can give informed consent to having dangerous, ineffective therapy for something they are castigated for all day every day. Those seeking, or told to go to, conversion therapy, should be intensively protected- not put under the mental strain of this horrific practice. It’s also been revealed as I wrote this piece that the government has been lobbied by a group who perform this evil practice, which is one of the myriad reasons for the delays in banning it!
It’s painfully obvious to anyone, from the very edges of this ongoing tirade against the trans community right to trans people themselves, that the BBC is determined to whip up continuation of this ridiculous and confected war against a minority, as a distraction from the failings of a government who has let down it’s populace more times in six months than most governments during their entire tenure.
Trans people are an easy demographic to blame on the face of things- some trans people become transients, kicked out of their houses by uncaring parents. Forced into sex work to be able to live and then charged by police who even in 2021 do not understand that sometimes life forces people into this avenue, their criminal records are happily displayed by gender critical people as “proof” that trans people are perverted. Context is key, but when you have a hateful agenda to push, anything that sits adjacent to your narrative is sufficient, the full extent discarded.
As this normalisation of hate continues, the LGBTQ+ community MUST set aside it’s petty squabbling and come together- we must be a shield for each other and ourselves, lest we be thrown back to the days where dangerous activism is the only way to be heard. Some of us are not only willing, but ready to embrace a role as a dissident if it means upsetting the status quo- if the status quo is to begin to regularly contain hateful propaganda against members of the community.
I’ve no doubt that a corner will be turned down the line where trans people finally see some light in the darkness, where their acceptance becomes mainstreamed- the question, the reason I sometimes can’t sleep at night, the rock in my stomach worry is – how many of our trans siblings are we fated to lose before people open their eyes to the empty hate spewed forth from institutions happy to foster lies and empty propaganda?