Categories
Books LGBTQ+

Carrie Kills A Man

I’ve been wanting to tell you about this for months, and now I can. My book, Carrie Kills A Man, will be published by 404 Ink next year.

Here’s the link to my publisher’s blog about it.

For us, Carrie’s submission was a joy to land in our inbox. Having published some of her writing in our literary magazine a few years ago, we were already fans of her work, and from the first pages, Carrie Kills A Man was fizzing with life and laughter, dealing with the serious and sometimes not-so-serious sides of trans life, parenthood, and lessons learned along the way. We loved it, we learned a lot, we laughed a lot. We’re so thrilled that Carrie has entrusted us with her memoir.

I love 404 Ink, and have done since their first ever title, Nasty Women. They’ve published some of my very favourite books and introduced me to some of my favourite writers. So I’m really excited that they’re going to publish me.

Carrie Kills A Man is a memoir about lots of things. It’s about growing up different. It’s about trying to be someone you’re not. It’s about what you learn when you give up privilege, power and pockets. And above all else, it’s about joy. I didn’t want to write a misery memoir, or a plea for tolerance. I wanted to write something true and funny and joyful.

Books are a team effort, and I am part of an amazing team that includes Heather and Laura, my publishers, and Kirstyn, my brilliant editor. Independent publishers are the best, not just because they’re great to work with but because you can sleep with a clear conscience.

Carrie Kills A Man will be published in late 2022 and you can pre-order it right here, right now.

Categories
Bullshit

Copaganda

I learnt a new word today: copaganda. It’s when you try to change the news agenda to protect the reputation of the police, and it’s happening just now over the trial of rapist, murderer and police officer Wayne Couzens.

This is from Sky News:

“It’s something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

A senior investigator on Sarah Everard’s case, former DCI Simon Harding, says police officers “do not view” Wayne Couzens as a police officer and he “should never have been near a uniform”.

That’s blatantly untrue. As Jonathan Crenshaw points out on Twitter:

Couzens was hired *after* his earlier behaviour came to light. his force  nickname was “the rapist”. he was part of an elite unit, had a warrant card and a gun. he was respected.

It also appears that his colleagues gave him sufficient time to clear his mobile phone history before knocking on his door.

The police would like you to focus on the idea of Couzens as a bad apple in the hope that you don’t remember the rest of the saying: one bad apple spoils the barrel. There is a huge problem of dangerous men working for the police and the Met would really rather you didn’t think about that. Portraying Couzens as some kind of lone wolf is an attempt to evade responsibility.

 

Categories
Health Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

Everything is awful

Trans Actual has published the results of its 2021 Trans Lives survey, in which around 700 UK trans adults shared their experiences. The results aren’t surprising but they are saddening.

  • 27% of trans people have been homelessness at some point in their lives. That rises to 36% for both trans BPOC and trans disabled people;

  • A staggering 98% of trans people responding do not think that NHS transition related care is completely adequate

There are significant issues with primary care, too:

    • 45% of trans respondents said that their GP did not have a good understanding of their needs as a trans person, with 55% of non-binary people reporting similar issues.

    • 87% of those answering, overall said that this had impacted them to some extent. This rises, again, to 95% and 92% for BPOC and disabled individuals;

    • Issues with healthcare providers may also have serious consequences, in a time when illnesses such as COVID-19 illustrate graphically how individual decisions, when faced with a highly transmissible virus, can affect the rest of the population, as 57% of trans people reported that they avoided going to the GP when unwell – again, because of lack of understanding and more general discrimination;

    • Even more concerning, 14% of respondents (one in 7) reported that their GP had  refused to provide care or treatment on account of their trans status at least once.

As Jane Fae, journalist and TransActual director, rightly says:

The real scandal here is how comprehensively the media have conspired to ignore this situation, preferring, instead, to produce tens of thousands of words on the largely imagined consequences of reform to the Gender Recognition Act.

Categories
Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

It’s time to abolish gender clinics

The image above is a graph showing the Tavistock London Adult Gender Identity Clinic’s performance since 2017. In the last four years its finding has increased from just under £4m to just under £6m while the number of people being referred to the service has fallen. And yet the number of people being seen by the clinic is getting smaller and smaller, sending the waiting list into orbit.

At current rates, if you join the waiting list today you will have to wait 31 years for your first appointment. That’s not a typo. If you join the waiting list aged 18, you will be 49 before you get your initial appointment.

Other gender clinics aren’t quite as bad, but they’re still bad. NHS referrals should take no more than 18 weeks; for trans people, 3-4 years is considered quick. Once again the reality is very different from what the newspapers are telling you.

As I’ve written before, there is no reason why trans healthcare should be separate from cisgender people’s healthcare or why trans people should wait 31 years for something they could discuss with their GP tomorrow.

There is no difference between the Estradot patches cisgender women are given by my GP and the Estradot patches I have. But while my GP prescribes them for the former group, my prescription is overseen by the gender clinic.

In the four years I’ve been under the supervision of that clinic I’ve never met an endocrinologist, a doctor specialising in hormones; my prescriptions have always been written by psychologists. Which perhaps explains why one of them made a massive mistake in one of mine, a mistake that would have had awful consequences if I hadn’t spotted it.

This is just gatekeeping. There’s nothing wrong with me psychologically; being trans isn’t a mental illness. And yet medicine and referrals that my GP is perfectly qualified to deliver for cis people are somehow transformed into mysterious unknowable magic because I’m trans. Other countries don’t do things this way because it’s completely nonsensical: it’s based on a system where you’re considered a fraud until you convince enough people otherwise.

This is the reality of trans healthcare in the UK. While health secretary Savid Javid plays the transphobia card for cheap political points, trans healthcare under the NHS is scandalously unfit for purpose and causing needless misery for far too many people.

 

Categories
Books Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+ Media

Two brilliant books

Here are two books you should buy.

The Transgender Issue, by Shon Faye

This is a book I’d very much like to have written, because it’s a clear-eyed, well researched and well argued response to the evidence-free scaremongering and barely laundered antisemitism of cisgender authors who claim to know more about trans people than trans people do. It details the links between UK anti-trans feminism and the US Christian Right, the appalling history of trans rights in the UK, the reasons why the UK’s particularly white anti-trans feminism is viewed with horror by other countries’ more evolved and inclusive feminism groups, and much more. If you’d like to know the truth about trans people in the UK, you should buy this book. And if you happen to know a newspaper editor or radio producer, you should buy it for them.

Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers, by Sady Doyle

This is sad and shocking, fierce and funny and utterly exhilarating. Doyle uses everything from Ancient Greek philosophy to ironic slasher movies to analyse the stories our culture tells about women, and the narratives women are expected to conform to. It’s the kind of book that makes you gasp with horror on one page and giggle on the next, and I had to restrain myself from sending endless quotes from it to my friends. Here’s a bit from the intro:

Women have always been monsters.

Female monstrosity is threaded throughout every myth you’ve heard, and some you haven’t: carnivorous mermaids, Furies tearing men apart with razor-sharp claws, leanan sídhe enchanting mortal men and draining the souls from their bodies. They are lethally beautiful or unbearably ugly, sickly sweet and treacherous or filled with animal rage, but they always speak to the qualities men find most threatening in women: beauty, intelligence, anger, ambition.

Categories
Media

A modest proposal: term limits for columnists

I’ve written many columns for various magazines, but I don’t do it so much any more: there are still plenty of places to pitch to, but I’m too old and too tired to pretend to be irate about things I really don’t care about, or to mock people I don’t know to try and demonstrate how edgy and hilarious I am.

That’s the thing about writing columns. Sooner or later you run out of ideas, but you still have to keep writing. So your writing gets worse and worse. How it gets worse depends on your own life; some columnists, hired to represent the ordinary man or woman on the street, end up affluent enough that they write their columns from a gated community in Florida; others are clearly shitfaced when they write; still others end up writing about their own Twitter adventures or just recycle the same copy every week.

Mic Wright, a former columnist himself:

The notion that the issue with columnists is that people outside of journalism demand conformity of opinion is absolute mirror world logic. There is no trans person with a regular national newspaper column articulating that view. Where are all the black columnists with regular access to a national platform? Most columnists in British national newspapers are over-40, white, and either based in or linked to London [in the Scottish press the first two still apply – CM].

The ease with which a writer can slip from The Guardian to The Daily Telegraph or conversely from The Daily Mail or Daily Telegraph to The New Statesman is not an example of their flexibility but of the homogenous quality of British media.

Columns aren’t there, as Freeman, suggests to “reveal a variety of perspectives”. Any columnist who regularly offered perspectives that were counter to the accepted lines of the British media — on houses, landlords, the market, politics, royalty, sexuality, class — would not have that job for long.

The rallying cry of the columnist is “no one tells me what to write” but the point is that no one has to. Every columnist knows that they are subject to the whims of the editor and, ultimately, the peccadillos of the proprietor. If they fall foul of either, they’re gone. A columnist who sticks around for decades is a columnist who knows how to endlessly compromise.

Parker Molloy has noticed the same thing in the US, and argues that the problem is simple: don’t let columnists write columns for very long.

It really does seem as though the longer columnists retain their gigs, the less meaningful output they seem to have. They are not experts in any particular field, but rather, generalists who often run out of useful ideas. This is how you end up with contrarianism for contrarianism’s sake and stories about sandwiches. After five years on the job, swap them out with fresh faces.

…Opinion journalism can be wonderful, but when columnists lose touch with readers and fail to provide factually sound content, we are all left worse off. If newspapers must have opinion sections (another issue that I may one day write about), there’s no valid reason not to strive for a substantive, factual discussion centered around a collection of experts. This is especially true when it comes to things like public health, climate change, and the other challenges that face us.

But as long as places like the Times continue to allow columnists to stay on staff to the point of brain rot, the public is going to continue to be force-fed repetitive nonsense about controversies on college campuses and personal grudges.

Categories
LGBTQ+

Call us Cassandra

In Greek mythology, Cassandra was cursed to utter true prophecies that would never be believed. I suspect she may have been trans.

Since the Bell vs Tavistock case was first announced, trans people have been trying in vain to get people to understand the real goal that “gender critical” feminists are supporting: the end of the Gillick competence that ensures, among other things, that teenage girls can access contraception without their parents’ consent.

For more than a year people have been telling us that we’re wrong, and that the case was absolutely nothing to do with Gillick competence.

Today, Kiera Bell’s lawyer – better known for his many anti-abortion cases – took his mask off in true Scooby-Doo villain style.

Categories
LGBTQ+

Reversible treatment

The Bell vs Tavistock judgement, which effectively stopped trans teenagers from getting appropriate healthcare under medical supervision, has been overturned.

As Gendered Intelligence points out, the original decision – which today’s verdict says should never have been made – has since been used by anti-vaccination activists and various other cranks.

In these days of rife mis- and disinformation, the Divisional Court’s now-overturned decision is being held up as gospel by many people opposed to the vaccination of under-16s. Even if the original decision had a larger scope than the care pathways of children with gender dysphoria — which, we must reiterate, it did not — the High Court has annulled this decision. At Gendered Intelligence, we are not interested in debating the merits of vaccination – the evidence speaks for itself – but would highlight only the weaponization of court decisions made around trans youth to potentially harm the wider population. Trans people and our rights are the canary in the coalmine, and any attempt to rescind or damage our rights will inevitably be used to damage the rights of others. This is but one reason why we ask that people stand with trans, gender diverse and indeed all LGBTQ people – especially youth — because “a loss to trans youth is a loss to all”.

Categories
Bullshit Health

Salad daze

This, by Amanda Mull for The Atlantic, is brilliant: Don’t Believe The Salad Millionaire.

It’s about the CEO of a salad chain for affluent customers. Said CEO claimed that the solution to COVID wasn’t masks or vaccinations: it’s salad. Americans are too fat, too lazy, and it’s their fault if they get sick.

As Mull writes:

that salad is the ideal medicine for an incredibly contagious respiratory virus might not be a trustworthy argument coming from a literal salad millionaire.

But there’s a wider point here.

More interesting, though, is how telling Neman’s salvational ramblings are of a harmful conviction about health that America’s wealthiest, most privileged class long ago laundered into common sense: that people who, unlike them, end up sick or poor have simply refused to make the right choices and help themselves. Speculating that America’s health-care crisis could be solved if everyone just had to eat some salad is not only lazy and wrong; it’s perpetuating an attitude that is making health—and the pandemic—worse for millions of people.

Although this is a story about the US, it’s just as relevant here: our media and political class has the same contempt. But despite the constant narrative of the undeserving poor, poor people don’t make bad food choices because they are stupid or greedy. They make bad food choices because they’re forced to. Poor people make bad choices because they’re poor.

Research has shown that poor people know what they’re missing from their diets, and they want quite badly to have those things.

Food is expensive. It’s expensive to buy good quality ingredients. It’s expensive to buy cookware and kitchenware. It’s expensive to pay for the energy to heat your food. And it’s expensive in terms of time: time spent preparing, time spent cooking, time spent shopping, time spent getting to and from the shops – shops that in many cases are far away from where many poorer people live.

I love to cook, but I’m doing it in a kitchen full of privilege: I can afford to pay my rent, cover my utility bills and still have enough money left to buy good quality ingredients. I have enough free time that I can afford to spend hours messing around with recipes I don’t know if I’ll even like, and I can make things for the kids in the knowledge that if they don’t like it I can simply whip up something else or get a takeaway. I can afford to waste food. These things are luxuries denied to many people.

I’m reminded of Terry Pratchett’s story about poor people’s boots:

The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

As Mull writes:

The people who benefit most from this belief system tend to be those who have parlayed personal advantages into even more enormous personal wealth; they were born on third base and swear they hit a triple.

Categories
Hell in a handcart

“Violent enforcers” of a manufactured culture war

This Daily Kos piece on the Proud Boys, the neo-nazi thugs who’ve allied themselves with anti-trans groups, is terrifying: When Proud Boys show up at local school protests, they’re following a larger far-right blueprint.

The Pacific Northwest’s gang of Proud Boys was very active over the past weekend. In addition to ginning up violence at an anti-masking rally in Olympia, Washington, on Saturday, the same group of right-wing thugs forced the lockdown of three schools in Vancouver, two hours south, the day before, when one of them forced his way into a high school as part of an anti-vaccination protest.

This is not the first time that the proto-fascist street brawlers have inserted themselves into local school board controversies, nor will it be the last. That’s because the nation’s local school boards have become the primary target of a nationwide far-right campaign to overwhelm such political entities with anti-vaccination/masking agitation, along with attacks over “critical race theory,” and those explicit takeover strategies happen to mesh neatly with the Proud Boys’ emerging tactic of attaching themselves to local right-wing political events.

…”They’ve been piggybacking on other people’s events,” Jared Holt, a fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, told USA Today. “They go where they believe the culture war is being fought, because they see themselves as potentially violent enforcers in a broader culture war.”