Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Rebuttals to Burchill have been made, but what of the future?

To follow up from today’s news, it feels as though things are beggining to calm down. There have been a number of blogs written in response to Burchill’s article, and we have had some good responses are now online from Ruth Pearce, Roz Kaveney and Paris Lees. I’d also like to link this blog as an example of the excellent rebuttals we have seen online today.

Whilst these articles have calmed me down somewhat as it seems to round the whole thing off with a nice, calm response from the trans community, and I really do hope that this draws a line under everything, I cannot help but feel dissatisfied with the outcome.

Yes, trans people have had their say, and I suspect that the Guardian/Observer will think very carefully before allowing another tirade of transphobia onto their pages. But the fact is that we have been here before: The Guardian publishes a transphobic piece, the trans community get angry, and then a trans commentator is invited to give a rebuttal, we all get on with our lives, that is until the heat cools off and an editor allows another article to slip through the regulations…

Surely there must be a way to not only draw a line under this individual incident, but to ensure that the paper never again allows itself to be used as a platform for hate speech?Some good responses are now online from Ruth Pearce, Roz Kaveney and Paris Lees. Whilst these articles have calmed me down somewhat as it seems to round the whole thing off with a nice, calm response from the trans community, and I really do hope that this draws a line under everything, I cannot help but feel dissatisfied with the outcome.

Yes, trans people have had their say, and I suspect that the Guardian/Observer will think very carefully before allowing another tirade of transphobia onto their pages. But the fact is that we have been here before: The Guardian publishes a transphobic piece, the trans community get angry, and then a trans commentator is invited to give a rebuttal, we all get on with our lives, that is until the heat cools off and an editor allows another article to slip through the regulations…

Surely there must be a way to not only draw a line under this individual incident, but to ensure that the paper never again allows itself to be used as a platform for hate speech?

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When a Transphobe Cries Wolf.

The representation of trans people in the media invariably tends to be awful. Comedy shows will happily use trans women as cheap plot devices to get laughter out of the fact that the character “used to be a man”. Newspapers will happily dig up information on trans people’s history and splash old photos across their pages as if we were some kind of freakshow piece. This I expect from right wing rags, but you’d hope that somewhere in the media there would be a voice of reason: because, guess what? Trans people are human beings and many of us would like to just get on with our lives.

I may be naive, but I would have hoped that a newspaper such as The Guardian wouldn’t be publishing pieces which read like an article from The Daily Mail. Unfortunately it would seem we are a legitimate target, and god forbid we answer back. “Here comes the trans cabal!”, “its a witch hunt!” decry the journos as they sip their champagne. No, the trans community is not some kind of hive mind hell bent of wrecking destruction through the pages of twitter. We are a diverse, and disparate group of people who are fed up with the discrimination and condemnation we receive on a daily basis. Of course many of us are going to be angry when you abuse your power to run a media campaign against us. Yes, we may not have our own newspaper columns, but we do have the right to answer back.

The problem here is that I cannot help but feel we are being baited. Given The Guardian’s recent piece on Dr Curtis, and the subsequent response of the trans community moving to his defense,my cynical side wonders if Moore’s faux par, and the subsequent twitter row in which she said some less than endearing things about trans people, is being used as a political lever by the likes of Bindel and Burchill. After all, if you can whip up a social media furore against yourself through poking the angry bear (and damn right we’re angry), then you can have a fun game of smoke and mirrors in which you can distract against where the real battle lines are to be had.

Moore asked why trans people never speak out on government cuts. My answer is that many of us are, but unfortunately, her refusal/ inability to understand the implicit racism and transphobia in her “brazillian transsexual” comment has now weakened that fight through diverting precious time and resources to once again defending against yet another media attack on the trans community. Only, as someone who is unashamedly left wing and a feminist, I feel these attacks are coming from within the ranks of my would be allies. Much like members of the SWP claiming that feminism is dividing the left, your claims that trans people are dividing feminism hold no water. It is you who divides us.