steepholm (steepholm) wrote,


2012 just missed out on being the wettest on record, but the British press are keen to make up for it by ensuring that 2013 contains a record amount of transphobia. They're off to a flying start. If I've been largely absent from LJ just recently, it's partly because of work but partly because I've been trying to keep up with the papers' apparent decision to adopt "Let's Kick a Tranny" as its collective motto. Most of my thoughts on the issue have been anticipated in one place or another, so I'm tempted to give a few links to people who said what I would have liked to. There are many, but here's a selection:

C N Lester. (And if you like their writing, try their music.)

Paris Lees' Open Letter to Suzanne Moore.

Christine Burns on mending fences.

Sarah Brown, earlier today.

Some of these are out of date, because the situation has moved rapidly. In the last day, the Gobserver (Julie Burchill's article was an Observer piece but appeared on the Guardian website: the portmanteau seems appropriate for her publishers) thought better of publishing hate speech, and deleted it along with the 2000+ comments (mostly by people shocked at Burchill's bigotry). Her article, though not of course the comments, which are lost for ever, was reprinted within hours by Toby Young at the Telegraph, in the name of "free speech". In Fleet Street this phrase is apparently synonymous with "the inalienable right to have your words published in a national newspaper". So, if you happen to have written an article called "Why Uppity Coons should Learn their Place if they Know What's Good for Them", and the Observer inexplicably refuse to publish it, don't worry - Toby will see you right.

But, as long as I've got your attention, here are two more links. The first is to the real trans-related news story of the week, i.e. the one with some actual news content, but also (since it doesn't paint trans people as a) freaks whose genitals are up for public dissection, b) a sinister and powerful 'cabal', c) pathetic victims, d) a po-mo intelligentsia living on inherited wealth or e) sex workers) the one that the national press studiously ignored. This is the story of routine neglect, obstruction and humiliation of trans people by health workers, collected in #TransDocFail, and selected for your reading pleasure here.

In a different part of the forest, I'll finish by linking to this piece by Dean Burnett. It's only tangentially related to the Burchill row, but I think it does something quite necessary, which is to turn the focus away from trans people, away even from Burchill or the Gobserver, to the general public.

Imagine, if you will, someone poking a dog with a stick. Most of the time the dog whimpers and cowers, but occasionally it will growl. Sometimes it may even bite, but then several other people will pile on with sticks until it's chastened, with cries of "Vicious brute!" A crowd gathers. Some are tutting, some are laughing and applauding, but all slip money into the Dog Poker's hat when it comes around. They come back the next day, and the next. The Dog Poker makes quite a good living at it.

Whose behaviour needs explanation? Not that of the dog. Not that of the Dog Poker.

It's the crowd that needs analysis.
Tags: current affairs, gender
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