An open letter to UK news editors: You are transphobes. And you don’t even truly know what that means.
Dear Katharine Viner (Guardian), John Witherow (The Times), Tim Davie (BBC), Fraser Nelson (Spectator), Chris Evans (The Telegraph) Jason Cowley (New Statesman), George Carron Greig (The Mail), Ted Verity (The Mail on Sunday), Emma Tucker (The Sunday Times), Victoria Newton (The Sun), Gary Jones (The Express) and any other editor who has ever signed off on anti-trans columns, news reports or segments.
You are all transphobes.
I don’t expect any of you to actually read this (why would you care what some medium post has to say?) but if you are reading, you might feel the urge to call a solicitor. How dare I, some upstart amateur journalist who makes a podcast in her pyjamas sully your character. You are not a transphobe. That is defamation! You don’t sit there hating trans people, you don’t punch us on sight, you don’t think that we should all die. How dare I libel you this way.
Thing is I am not really doing that. Whilst there are transphobes out there who do sit there angry at the idea of trans people, who do attack us and do believe we should all die, I would have no idea if that was who you are. I am not saying you are like some of the people you have given platforms to. Because much like gender, transphobia is a spectrum.
Transphobia is many things but primarily it is actions. Transphobia is a noun but it is also a verb. It can be attitudes, it can be feelings but mostly it is actions chosen by cisgender people that costs only transgender people because they are transgender.
It can be someone telling a trans woman not to wear what she wants at their wedding. It can be somone refusing to call a trans man by his correct pronouns at work. It could be a non-binary person trying to sign up to a new GP’s surgery with a form that doesn’t have a non-binary option. The thing that makes an action transphobic is if it uniquely harms trans people or values our identities less than cisgender peoples. That is the only metric that matters on what is and isn’t a transphobic action.
Your transphobic action is that you publish lies about us and the issues that face us. And most of you have done this almost constantly for five years now.
For most of that time I didn’t truly understand why you did this. Through my own work it would never take me long to find the truth of things using nothing but google on my phone or in some cases just directly asking the subjects of the story. How could you publish such innacuracies if the truth was that easy to find? How could you publish opinion pieces that were built on lies?
Then it hit me one day.
You did it for the money. John Witherow’s Times struck gold when they first started their “conversation” on transgender issues and you all jumped on board looking to get your slice.
You probably justified signing off the lies because many people believe them and thus they must be published, truth be damned. You probably rationalised that the reports would become technically true if you phrase things a certain way that could easily be misinterpreted. But they were still lies. They were spectacular lies that got a response and you have proven that if it is a choice between a spectacular lie that sells and an important truth that would sell 7% less, you will go with the lie every time.
The factless based concept that trans women in changing rooms would endanger anyone? The fiction of people going around forcing children to transition? How could anyone pass up giving you a click or throwing 50p down once they saw those headlines?
That is why you rarely mention trans men and non-binary people. Because trans women are seen as uniquely dangerous (because they are really men, right?). If for some reason it was trans men or non-binary people who had this hateful baggage attached to them, you would be making this about them instead because that would get you the most amount of eyes.
Here is a pretty good summary of some of the lies that some of you have put out. There are just too many to list here. But the lies are so ingrained they are at the root of most pieces on trans issues you put out into the world.
Every report or opinion piece that contained the idea that Gender Recognition Act reform could increase sexual assaults was a lie. There is no evidence for this anywhere on earth (and I have looked). You knew that the GRA is only about changing birth certificates. Everytime you put out some quote from someone saying that GRA reform would harm anyone you were signing off on the absurd lie that birth certificates stop sexual assaults.
Do you even know where your birth certificate is? Is it in the loft? Is it in that folder on the bookshelf in the spare room? When is the last time you used it to go for a piss? To get into your gym changing room? The idea that a birth certificate is enough to stop someone from entering an unguarded room is absurd.
Every report about the idea of trans children being rushed through to transition was built on a lie. It can take years to get treatment. All you had to do to realise this is ask any trans young person who has been through the Tavistock. But then, you probably would have run this lie even if you did know the truth because the truth isn’t as profitable.
Every time you reported a sharp increase in the number of young people seeking transition you spread the lie that this was unusual or something to be concerned about. The truth is that the best estimate is 1% of the population are trans. The number of those aged between zero and nineteen is 15,746,000 according to the latest projections from the office of national statistics. Going by those numbers that means there are 157,460 transgender people in that age bracket.
And you portrayed this rise as a worrying trend when it reached 4000 patients at the Tavistock. When the truth is that there should be at least tens of thousands more young people seeking transition related healthcare than there already are. But none of you ever made this point because you couldn’t sell this truth. But you could sell a dangerous fad infecting our children. Nothing gets parents attention like a new threat to their kids.
And possibly the worst of all, every report you published about one terrible trans person was built on the lie that all trans people could be just as bad. That is why you chose to publish those stories right? If they weren’t transgender then that wouldn’t have got you those numbers. But a trans criminal comes with an exotic angle and something to fear. The UK public lap that shit up don’t they? Just like they did when most of you pull this same nonsense on immigrants and Muslims. Hell, some of you
How did you get those lies past IPSO? By making the story about what someone said.
“Feminists say.” “Graham Linehan says”. “Jk Rowling says”.
So whilst you were reporting on something that happened you never ever broke down their lies. You just repeated them and gave them out to millions who will now believe those lies.
You chose to do that. You chose to sign off on these articles and columns. And you profited from them. Some of you even won awards on the back of it. Even saw in the Times someone write about how amazing it was that they kickstarted this national conversation. But you know how I see what you have done?
It is the same thing your predecessors did to LGB people in the 80’s and 90’s. Exactly the same. Your predecessors saw that there was an epidemic spreading. They saw that Labour councils were trying to put a book about gay parents in schools. And they whipped the nation into a homophobic frenzy that published lies and hatred and as a result in the 1987 office of national statistic social attitudes survey 75% of UK people say they felt that homosexuality was mostly or always wrong. The Conservatives saw that number and promised to protect children from this diseased and immoral lifestyle and brought in section 28. In the meantime, thousands of gay men died and your predecessors blamed them for their deaths because they “chose an immoral lifestyle”.
And you are carrying the torch. You are doing this again. We may not have something like the HIV epidemic to deal with. But we do have an epidemic of suicides in our community. 48% of trans people have a suicide attempt in their past. We will never know how many were successful.
That is why you are transphobes for the same reasons that your predecessors are homophobes.
But like I wrote earlier transphobic actions are measured in their intensity by their cost. And we have paid that cost whilst you have profited.
Hate crimes reports from transgender people have quadroupled since 2015. 2015 was the year of the parliamentary Transgender Equality Inquiry. It was the recommendations they gave to the government that started this never ending flood of transphobic reporting from all of you.
You are complicit in our lives becoming harder.
You may be thinking that this doesn’t show you are a transphobe because of semantics. Just because someone does something transphobic, that doesn’t make someone a transphobe. And broudly I agree. Sometimes people do transphobic things by mistake on occasion. I do not believe they are transphobes.
But when it is consistant over several years, almost daily actions in some cases, I think it is safe to say you have earned the title of transphobe.
But the common perception in society is that being called a transphobe is worse than doing transphobic things. Me calling you a transphobe may be enough for some of you to seek legal action against me. Whilst you publish lies that incite hatred against trans people to millions of people collectively, it is I, an angry trans woman writing this at 4am who is doing the monstrous thing by calling you what you clearly are.
I am not asking you stop publishing content about transgender people. I am not asking you to do anything because I know it would be pointless. I am not calling for you to be ‘cancelled’ (I genuinely don’t even know what that phrase means anymore). I am not asking you to silence opinions I do not like.
All I can say is that if being called a transphobe hurts you then there is one thing you could do to stop being a transphobe.
You could actually do your fucking jobs. You could check the facts of the stories you publish. You could check the facts of the opinion pieces you publish and be more discerning about what opinions would benefit your audience instead of what would get you the most eyes on the adverts. You could tell your journalists to stop asking transphobic hate groups for comment because they actually tell more lies than you do.
The only thing you have to do is tell the truth. The full, real truth. It is so easy, you can find it with google. I did. Or you could just ask one of us about our lives. But we probably wouldn’t want to talk to you because so many transgender people who have spoken to journalists have had their lives ruined. So don’t be surprised if you your journalists do need a transgender person’s input if the answer is “fuck off.”
But maybe that can change. And all you have to do is your fucking jobs.