“The Scottish media are now at the forefront of undermining trans rights”

The ever-entertaining A Thousand Flowers blog has resurrected its Weekly Wanker slot for the Herald newspaper columnist Iain McWhirter, who has appointed himself as defender of women against the sinister trans agenda. It’s an amusing read, but it’s also fuelled by righteous anger.

If you aren’t familiar with ATF, it’s a Scottish blog that often does the basic legwork supposedly respectable, responsible journalism doesn’t – so for example while major Scottish newspapers were running scare stories about trans people’s threat to women’s refuges and other crucial resources, running op-eds wondering what Scottish women’s groups might think, ATF actually picked up the phone and asked all 40+ of those groups. The response: they’re already trans-inclusive and the newspapers were misrepresenting them.

Back to the Weekly Wanker.

Iain’s a long established Scottish hack who’s perhaps best know as The Da of The Yes Das, one of the few mainstream journos supportive of independence in the run up to the 2014 referendum.  More recently though, his failed attempts to understand the basics of the emergency facing Scotland’s trans community has resulted in a string of absolute shitfests.

As ATF points out, McWhirter appears to be completely ignorant of the current legal situation, of science and of the trans-inclusive policies of Scottish women’s groups. And he’s not the only person spreading fear and long-debunked bullshit, for which the Scottish media seems to have a huge appetite.

in reporting uncritically on these dodgy new groups and amplifying only the views of a tiny, vocal minority of loudly “silenced” transphobes, space simply isn’t being given either to trans groups or to the women’s groups on the front line. Under the comments to Iain’s latest outburst, there were further attacks against groups like Rape Crisis Scotland, Engender and Womens Aid – and their staff – who were accused of actually being secret bigots who were just too scared to say so, SILENCED, in case they lost their funding or jobs.  We’ve already refuted this lie, by calling every Women’s Aid group in Scotland, every group we spoke to said they were trans inclusive already – but the transphobes won’t believe these women, it suits them to call women who work with survivors cowards and liars instead.  Who’s silencing who exactly?

These targeted and relentless attacks against women’s groups by the anti trans lobby are deeply sinister and we need to continue to resist them.  The people who peddle lies and bigotry won’t rest until Rape Crisis Scotland has been replaced by a random website run by people hating on orange cats and Women’s Aid is just a badly filled in form about the “dangers” of trans kids.  They want to undermine the credibility of women’s groups so they can claim that space and funding for themselves.

Women and men, cis and trans people, gay people, bi people and lest we forget the “heteronormative” lesbians Iain’s been bashing out his one handed columns about, all need to speak up for those being attacked and undermined by the latest wave of moral panic which has infected the Scottish media.  Otherwise, we risk both trans groups and women’s groups being undermined by bigotry and hatred.


A Mermaids tale

Last year, there was a concerted smear campaign by anti-trans activists against the Mermaids charity. It began with misleading articles in major newspapers such as The Sunday Times (articles that have since been corrected after ISPO found them to be based on false allegations) and culminated in an organised campaign to get the Lottery fund to cancel its grant to the charity.

The campaign was extremely ugly. I’ve seen Mermaids’ CEO repeatedly libelled online, and the charity itself described in such a way you’d think it was harvesting humans for their blood. That’s not as bizarre an image as it might sound: some of the anti-trans mob are anti-semitic too and claim that trans organisations are funded by The Jews for reasons far too insane to detail here.

The campaign was spearheaded by two people: an obsessive, washed-up sitcom writer and an obsessive, washed-up newspaper journalist. The writer urged the notoriously transphobic members of a particularly toxic section of Mumsnet to bombard the Lottery fund with complaints. Bombard they did.

The lottery fund has now investigated all the allegations and published its report. Over 40 pages it makes it very clear that the anti-trans activists’ claims run the gamut from utterly unsubstantiated to ideologically-driven bullshit.

I’m not going to go through the whole thing line by line (it’s here if you want to do that.) It appears to be pretty balanced: there are areas where Mermaids can clearly do better,  and it makes recommendations in those areas.

But the takeaway here is that the lurid allegations against the charity, the terrible things that  the campaigners allege, are not true. The charity doesn’t push anybody towards medical treatment or refer anyone to anything. It doesn’t use false statistics to exaggerate the mental health issues of trans children. It doesn’t provide misinformation about sexual development and it doesn’t conflate gender non-conformity with being trans.

There was lots of innuendo, but no actual evidence.

There’s a lot of innuendo about. This weekend, the Sunday Times published tennis star Martina Navratilova’s thinky thoughts about trans people – thoughts, you’ll be amazed to discover, that weren’t very trans-friendly. Navratilova is on the advisory board and is an ambassador for the Athlete Ally LGBTQ sports charity. Or at least she was until they fired her this morning. In a statement, the charity explained that her comments were “based on a false understanding of science and data, and perpetuate dangerous myths that lead to the ongoing targeting of trans people through discriminatory laws, hateful stereotypes and disproportionate violence.”

A “false understanding of science and data” perpetuating “dangerous myths” is something you see a lot of in the specific allegations the Lottery fund considered and rejected.

It’s not just an important report for Mermaids. It’s important for LGBT people generally, because the same “protect the children” mob also wants to pressure organisations to defund any charity that is trans-inclusive – a list that doesn’t just include trans charities (Scottish Trans Alliance, Gendered Intelligence etc) but also any charity that is trans supportive – so Stonewall and even the disabled kids’ charity Allsorts are on the online activists’ hit list.

That collection of targets gives the lie to the claims of “reasonable concerns”. There’s nothing reasonable about this. It’s hatred.

Some trans people are, understandably, experiencing schadenfreude: the campaign didn’t just fail, but it was directly responsible for a crowdfunding campaign that put another quarter of a million into the charity’s coffers. But while it’s fun to see bigots thwarted, this isn’t the last such campaign we’ll see.

This hatred isn’t driven by facts, but faith. The response to the Lottery fund’s report isn’t “well, they’ve investigated it and it turns out we were wrong!” but “Let’s find out where these people live and make their lives hell.” Some of the activists are discussing making crank calls to the Mermaids’ helpline to make the phone lines unavailable. Others are claiming conspiracy or continuing to peddle the most vicious libels.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve seen it before. Many anti-trans activists are very friendly with US right-wing evangelicals of the anti-abortion, restrict-women’s-rights variety; some of the higher profile figures in the anti-trans movement are also demonstrably racist and islamophobic. Their hatred, these tactics, won’t suddenly go away. They’ll be used against other charities too.

The message to other charities from this campaign is simple: if you aren’t on the same side as the evangelicals or the far right, it could be you.

TRNSMT: where are the women?

Last year, TRNSMT festival head Geoff Ellis told the BBC that there was “a long way to go” with gender balance at festivals: women weren’t really getting a look-in.

“We do have strong female representation across the line-up but we’re committed to doing more,” he said.

How’s that panned out this year?

Of the eight acts on the main stage on Friday, just one – Mabel – is a woman. On Saturday, Sigrid is the token woman; it’s possible that the singer of Sundara Karma is trans but I can’t find out how they identify. And on Sunday, the woman is Jess Glynne. The Amazons, further down the bill, may take their name from the legendary women warriors, but they’re blokes.

So out of 23 main stage acts there are three women. That means around 87% of the main stage line-up is male.

How does that compare to 2018? If the organisers are “committed to doing more”, you’d expect 2019 to be an improvement over 2018.


Image of TRNSMT with male acts removed. Posted by @thatguyconnah on Twitter.

Last year, TRNSMT featured 33 acts on the main stage. Of those acts, there were five female artists or female-fronted bands. So the line-up was 85% male. That means female representation  at TRNSMT is actually worse in 2019 than it was in 2018.

This is not new, and it’s not limited to TRNSMT. The gender balance of festivals is generally 80% male, sometimes considerably higher (the Reading festival is notorious for its lack of female artists; it’s one of the few festivals to refuse to sign a pledge to improve gender equality). But it’s not really good enough, is it?

The problem is not that there aren’t enough women artists. As Roisin O’Connor wrote in the Independent, there are tons of great female artists and female-fronted bands. And there are plenty more coming up. Fender says that in the US and UK, women account for half of all guitar purchases. The problem is much simpler. Female artists aren’t being booked because festivals are sausagefests.

Geoff Ellis has defended TRNSMIT, pointing out – rightly – that acts such as Chvrches and Florence + The Machine are headlining the same firm’s Summer Sessions in Edinburgh later this year. But that doesn’t change the fact that while Ellis has promised to make TRNSMT more gender balanced, the balance is worse than it was when he made that promise last year. Promises are only worthwhile if you keep them.

Pandering to extremists isn’t balance

You’re probably familiar with the “if you’ve been affected by the issues raised in this programme…” warning at the end of gritty BBC dramas, which tells you about the Action Line information service. But it was conspicuous by its absence from last week’s episode of Call The Midwife, in which a character died from a backstreet abortion.

It’s an odd omission, because the Action Line that’s normally mentioned at the end of programmes is for exactly this kind of subject.

So why no announcement?

According to the BBC, abortion is a “contentious issue”. Allowing people to access information might “imply the BBC supported one side or another.”

It isn’t possible for the BBC Action Line to offer support for abortion and similarly contentious issues without referring people either to campaigning organisations which take a particular stance on an issue or to organisations which provide it.

Abortion has been legal in mainland Britain since the late 1960s and is provided by the NHS. There’s nothing remotely contentious about letting women know what evidence-based medical treatment is available to them any more than it’s contentious to tell people about chemotherapy or vaccinations.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, Brook, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, Family Planning Association (FPA), Marie Stopes UK, the Royal College of Midwives, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have written a letter to the BBC:

Abortion has been legal, in certain circumstances, in Great Britain for over 50 years, and 98% of terminations are funded by the NHS. Abortion is the most common gynaecological procedure in the UK, and one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime. Polling demonstrates that the vast majority of the public support a woman’s right to choose, including those with a religious belief. Abortion is not a “contentious issue”– it is a routine part of NHS-funded healthcare, provided by doctors, nurses, and midwives every day in hospitals and clinics across the country.

“The BBC Action Line response states that including links to information about abortion could imply the BBC “supported one side or another.” However, in barring information the BBC is in effect “supporting one side” by treating abortion as different to all the other medical procedures and conditions the BBC choses to include. This is highly stigmatising for the healthcare professionals we represent and the women we care for.

It’s a good example of the BBC getting its desire for “balance” terribly wrong. The abortion “debate” isn’t balanced; it’s a handful of extremists who want to deny legal, evidence-based healthcare to women and who are quite willing to see women suffer and even die because of those extremists’ religious beliefs. In the US, they bomb medical centres and attempt to kidnap and murder doctors.

Pandering to religious extremists isn’t cultural sensitivity, let alone balance. It’s censorship.

Update, 18 Feb: The BBC now says it was “mistaken” and has now amended its website to provide appropriate information.

Taking the piss

Let’s talk about toilets, shall we? Writing in The Daily Dose, Ingebord van Lieshout describes how “pee’d off” Dutch women are waging war for gender-neutral toilets.

It’s an issue throughout the world, where so-called “potty parity” doesn’t exist: if you use the ladies’, you can expect long queues at any kind of public event.

In The Atlantic, Hoe Pinsker asks a simple question: the long lines for women’s bathrooms could be eliminated. Why haven’t they been?

Sexism is part of it, of course, but a lot of it is money. Regulations only stipulate the minimum number of toilets for men and women that need to be provided; beyond that it’s usually a financial decision, and that decision is still largely in the hands of male architects and other male stake-holders.

As Pinkster notes, all kinds of studies take place to analyse issues such as how long people will have to wait for a lift. But “it’s rare for developers to undertake any sort of timing study for bathrooms, even though it’s not clear that waiting for a toilet is any less important than waiting for an elevator.” And it’s difficult to add extra toilets to places that have already been built.

One option is to designate more bathrooms as gender-neutral, an option we already use in places where there isn’t much space – such as aeroplanes, small cafés and everybody’s bloody house. If we did more of that, fewer women would be queuing for so long.

If the bigots would stop howling about trans people we might be able to recognise the many pluses of gender neutral toilets, which The Guardian described in late 2017.

making existing WCs gender-neutral requires little more than changing the signs on the door. And it perfectly equalises the waiting times for men and women.

The difference is dramatic.

Suppose that we have a male and a female multi-stall toilet with six stalls each. We have 150 males and 150 females answering the call of nature over a one-hour period. Then the average waiting time for men is roughly 27sec and for women roughly 7min 40sec. This seems close to what we see in toilets in West End theatres. If we make them gender-neutral, then the average waiting time will go to 36 seconds – a small increase for men but a substantial decrease for women.

There are other benefits too. Male bathrooms often don’t have baby changing facilities, or sanitary facilities for people who were assigned female at birth but who identify as male or non-binary. They can be more useful for disabled people whose carers are of a different gender. And they are cheap.

And yet there are still some vocal people who’d rather make  women stand cross-legged past the point of discomfort than allow gender-neutral toilets. For example, this month a member of an anti-trans pressure group has written to East Renfrewshire, Angus, Dundee and Edinburgh councils (and of course, to the newspapers covering those areas) decrying gender-neutral toilets in primary schools, because of course primary school children are dangerous predators. Elsewhere, anti-trans activists demand trans people are excluded from toilets, propaganda that’s led to anti-trans bigots abusing women who don’t look “female enough” because they have short hair or aren’t conventionally pretty. That’s just taking the piss.

I’m not like you perverts and weirdos

Every few months, a new bunch of ageing transsexuals will write a letter to The Guardian or they’ll write an open letter on the internet in which they moan about the “transgender umbrella” and how it’s just too broad. Various different people have been writing the same thing since about 1973, and while the names sometimes differ the song hasn’t really changed: look at all these pervs and weirdos claiming to be like us! They’re not proper transsexuals like we are! They make us sick! We refuse to be associated with them! Let’s throw them under the bus!

I’d do a parody of it, but Natalie Reed already did a great job seven years ago.

You know, I’m sick of all this “umbrella term” nonsense. Why should I be associated with a bunch of freaks like drag queens, “butch trans dykes” and non-op transgenders? I’m a real transsexual, a real woman. I fought hard in order to be able to be accepted as a woman, and having a bunch of people who aren’t even interested in getting surgery, or wearing skirts, or doing guys, going ahead and jumping into our “community” and making us look bad is just undoing all of what us real transsexuals, who are really women, fought to attain. I’m sorry, but male means penis and female means vagina. You just need to accept that. It’s common sense. Yes, there are women like me who are born trapped in men’s bodies, who get surgery to have vaginas and therefore become women, but you can’t just say “I’m a woman” and have your “self-identification” magically make your penis no longer a penis. It’s crazy and ridiculous, and you make us women who were simply born with a physical defect and sought to have it corrected look crazy and ridiculous too. I don’t care what you transgenderists want to do with your weird perverted fetishes and such, but don’t go dragging us real women who are really transsexual down with you.

These are the people who join hands with rabid anti-trans bigots and who actively campaign against trans rights. Reed rightly describes them as “the capos and Quislings of the trans community, passing on information to the guards of the gender prison in exchange for an extra cookie on their lunch tray.”

This is important, because legal rights depend on definitions. Under UK law, I am protected from discrimination; if you punch me, it’s a hate crime. But that has only applied since I decided to undergo some form of transition from male to female. Before that decision I was still trans, but I wasn’t trans enough in the eyes of the law.

The most recent example of the “we’re true trans and everyone else can get stuffed” is in the form of a blog demanding the charity Stonewall stops fighting for transgender rights (no link, because arseholes). Not all transgender rights, though. Just the rights of people who aren’t exactly like the people writing the blog post.

Not everybody who’s under the trans umbrella will take hormones, change their name or undergo surgery. But the people who would fire us, evict us or beat us up don’t care. Nobody asks to see your Gender Recognition Certificate before deciding whether to punch you.

I’m one of the so-called “true transsexuals” these clowns claim to be: I’ve got the medical diagnosis and the 12-weekly needle in the buttocks to prove it. But I don’t feel that I’m any more valid than someone who’s non-binary, or who decides that the risks of social, hormonal transition aren’t worth it, or anybody else of whom the desiccated gatekeepers disapprove.

Reed again:

Concepts such as “The Transgender Community” or “LGBT”/”The Queer Community” are not meant to be overarching ideas of who and what we are. It isn’t meant to blur distinctions. The Transgender Umbrella doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge that cross-dresser is different from transsexual is different from drag queen is different from genderqueer, no more than using “Queer” is to imagine that gay men and trans women are the same thing. These are political coalitions.

You see, we may understand those nuances and differences. We know the difference between intersex and genderqueer, cross-dressing and drag, trans man and butch lesbian… but the haters don’t. They don’t really care. They see a big icky rabble of icky queers and they want us gone, no matter how exactly we differ from their heteronormative, cisnormative expectations.

We’re all different, but we all have one thing in common: we’re under attack.

These kinds of internecine divisions, hoping to somehow move forward in cultural acceptance by ridding yourselves of the unseemly lower classes of whatever, do absolutely nothing for progress. What they do is reinforce the scaffolding on which the oppression was based (for instance, the idea that certain kinds of gender are more valid or “real” than others). Whatever extra cookie you may get on your tray when lunch is served in the prison, you’re still stuck in that prison, still dependent on the guards, and will remain so until we cooperate effectively and build a tunnel.

If the only way to save yourself is to use other people as a human shield, you’re not worth saving.

The march of idiocy

I wrote about the horrors of unvaccinated children the other day. This is a great example of the problem.

The article is about Shanelle Cartwright, the wife of an Australian rugby player. Over 400-odd words it regurgitates nonsense she posted on social media, describing her refusal  to vaccinate her kids as a “controversial decision”.

It’s not a controversial decision. It’s a dangerous decision that could threaten the lives of other people’s children.

This happens constantly in media, in all kinds of subjects: someone refusing to accept settled science is portrayed as part of a debate where both sides have equal value. But they don’t. The Earth is not flat. We landed on the moon. The Holocaust happened. Climate change is real. Barack Obama wasn’t born in Kenya. Vaccination saves lives.

A recent study found that nearly 10% of Americans think vaccines are unsafe. That doesn’t mean that nearly 10% of Americans know more than science. It means that nearly 10% of Americans are idiots.

I briefly subscribed to a Reddit section about stupid people on Facebook. I had to unsubscribe again because the sheer, grinding, unrelenting idiocy of it was making me fear for humanity. It’s just wall to wall insanity: nurses claiming that the sun can’t damage your skin, people telling cancer patients to forget chemo and cut down on sugar instead, people sharing graphics showing that vaccinations include a range of lethal chemicals including dihydroxen monoxide.

Dihydrogen Monoxide is better known as H2O.

I wish I was making this up.

Never mind asking whether these people should be given a platform. I don’t think they should be given cutlery.

It’s really very simple: idiots shouldn’t be given a platform to spout idiocy unless you make it really, really clear that they have no idea what they’re talking about. We generally don’t give column inches or air time to people who believe that the world is flat, because it isn’t. But with vaccination, climate change and other hot-button topics, we repeatedly give idiots a megaphone. And every time we do, we legitimise their bullshit and the world gets a little more stupid.

In whose face? Down whose throat? For God’s sake, let it go

When was the last time you had objectionable content rammed down your throat? Because according to the internet, it’s happening constantly. All over the world, people are getting things rammed right down their throats.

Except, of course, they aren’t.

Here’s an example. Today, one of my friends was reading a Facebook thread about a children’s cartoon, Frozen. The thread was based on a report that in the sequel, one of the female characters – Elsa – may have a girlfriend.

You can guess the response. Over 1,000 comments with tons of: people are trying to force politics into everything! It’s political correctness gone mad! I’ve got nothing against LGBT people, but why do they have to ram this stuff down our throats?

First of all, nobody’s ramming anything down anything. You’re a grown adult moaning about a cartoon that hasn’t been made yet.

Secondly, politics is in everything. As my friend posted on Twitter:

Everything is political.

If you think letting cartoon characters (🤦🏻‍♂️) only have heterosexual relationships is not political, you’re wrong. If you think having only white characters on TV is just, like, normal, and ‘adding’ people of colour is PC-gone-mad, think harder.

Newsflash: gay people exist, have always existed, and always will exist. To exclude gay characters  (or Asian characters, or Black characters, or trans characters, or…) is a political act; whether consciously or otherwise, it’s choosing not to reflect reality.

As another commenter noted, pretty much every female character in Disney movies has a love interest – a straight one, although not necessarily a human one. For example, in Beauty And The Beast  the lead character, Belle, dates a monster – the titular Beast – after he kidnaps her.

This is a cartoon in which one of the key characters is a living, talking snowman, from a company whose previous films included living teapots, talking animals and a duck who goes around in people clothes but who never wears trousers.

If you are outraged by the presence of an inoffensive gay character in a cartoon, you’re a bigot.

If you’re okay with your kids seeing a guy developing superpowers because he was bitten by a radioactive spider but you can’t hack the idea of them seeing a girl with a girlfriend, you’re a bigot.

If you can accept your kids seeing an enormous angry space monkey fly a spaceship but can’t face the thought of them seeing two girls holding hands, you’re a bigot.

If you feel that letting gay kids (or black kids, or trans kids, or…) see the occasional character a bit like themselves among the thousands upon thousands of characters that are white, cisgender and straight, you’re a bigot.

What, exactly, do you think these characters are going to do? Do you think that the cartoon will include an extended fisting scene? Will the denouement be delayed for some lovingly animated ass play? Are they going to change the snowman song to “do you want to see a dildo?”

What is wrong with you?

There’s a core belief here, which is that if children see a gay character on screen it might turn them gay. And there are two responses to that. One is “so what?” The other is to point out that it really doesn’t work like that. I spent 40-something years seeing cisgender people on TV, in cartoons and in films. If trans people were featured, which they generally weren’t, they were murderers making shirts out of women’s skin (Silence of the Lambs) or were portrayed as they were in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, in which Jim Carrey discovers he’s kissed a trans woman, throws up twice, uses an entire tube of toothpaste to brush his teeth, strips naked, throws his clothes in the trash, burns them and then weeps in the shower.*

Guess what? Still trans.

Every time somebody says they don’t want political correctness shoved down their throat, what they mean is that they believe that the minority in question is sinful, shameful or evil in some other way – that the minority is less than human and deserving of fewer rights than others.

We must protect our children! they holler.

Protect them from what?

Right now, my group’s the one getting most of the “protect the chiiiiiiiiiiiiildren” nonsense. Previously it was lesbians; before that, gay men. Before that, black people. And so on.

And it’s everywhere. On the social network Reddit, one visitor to a trans discussion forum asked a whole bunch of questions (now removed) and made the comment that they personally were cool with trans people and LGBTQ people generally, but why did they have to shove it in people’s faces all the time?

My reply:

We aren’t the ones having gender reveal parties, dressing babies in babygros with “Ladies Man” printed on them, obsessing over what other people do in bathrooms or bed or approaching complete strangers in the street and shouting that they’re abominations. We aren’t demanding that you can be discriminated against in health and in housing, in employment and education, and that you shouldn’t be allowed to serve in the military, teach children or take part in public life. We aren’t regularly writing in the papers and online about how people like you are all pedophiles and potential rapists. But sure, if we go to a parade once a year we’re the ones shoving things in people’s faces. I’m rolling my eyes pretty hard here.

Back to Facebook.

There are, yes, and the overwhelming majority of entertainment is made by them, for them. And yet any time there’s the slightest hint of a non-white or non-straight or trans character in anything, thousands of straight people lose their shit. They lost their shit when Ghostbusters was remade with female leads, one of whom was abused horrifically because she was not just a woman but a black woman. They lost their shit when a Star Wars film featured an Asian woman in a prominent role (and some of them made a version of the film where all the women were removed). And now they’re losing their shit at the thought that one of the characters in Frozen might have a girlfriend instead of just a talking snowman who doesn’t ever melt.

I’ll give the last word to Elsa.

I don’t care what they’re going to say. Let the storm rage on.

* The scene isn’t just offensive for its mockery of trans women. It’s a deliberate parody of the scenes in dramas where women are traumatised after a sexual assault or rape. Think about that for a moment: rape as comedy. You just know that it wasn’t a woman who wrote that scene (it was a man, Jack Bernstein), or who directed it (it was directed by Tom Shadyac, a man), or who signed it off (the producers were Gary Barber, Peter Bogart, Bob Israel and James G Robinson, who are men). This is what happens when your productions aren’t inclusive.

There’s more about transphobia in popular culture here.

A sinister agenda

One of the most widely circulated anti-trans stories is that Soham child murder Ian Huntley is trans. The Star reported it 10 months ago, and it’s regularly trotted out by anti-trans groups and repeated in newspapers.

Look what Jeremy Vine posted today.

It’s from yesterday’s Star.

Like the vast majority of such stories, it was a complete fabrication. Good luck waiting for the retractions from The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman, The Sunday Times’ Janice Turner, The Telegraph, Fair Play For Women, The Spectator’s James Kirkup…

The point here is not that bad people cannot be trans, or that trans people cannot be bad. The point is that some newspapers, journalists and celebrities are not objective or ethical when it comes to writing about trans people, and will print pretty much anything if it supports the narrative of a sinister transgender agenda. The Huntley story was always, obviously dubious, and yet none of the people who wrote about it bothered to do the simplest bit of journalism: get on the phone and find out if it was true.

This is happening far too often for it to be anything other than malicious. UK newspapers have repeatedly had to retract stories about trans people because the stories were untrue. Those stories have been used by anti-trans bigots to campaign against trans people’s rights, and to spread fear and hatred of trans people. This particular story produces 95,000 Google results and is used so frequently that ten months since publication, anti-trans activists were posting about it on Twitter this morning – just before Vine posted the photo of the retraction.

The stories, and the fear and hatred they engender, live on long after the inevitable retractions.

For frack’s sake

The Times, on Twitter:

Almost 50 geoscientists have urged the government to commission an urgent review of the fracking earthquake limit, which they suggest should be raised to allow the industry to expand

Sam Knight, a writer, also on Twitter:

Of the 48 people that signed the letter, I could not confidently identify 9. I think one works for BP and another works for Shell. Many are not experts in any recognisable way. But it doesn’t really matter. Because, of the remaining 39, all have links to gas and oil companies.

…Several signatories openly brag about their industry funded research. Many used to work for oil and gas companies. Quite a few still work for those companies. And others are not even practising scientists, but directors of a business in the energy sector.

This isn’t just yet another example of how The Times and its sister titles often publish advocacy and rarely bother to check credentials. It’s part of a wider problem where supposedly independent experts are nothing of the sort.

The Taxpayer’s Alliance is a good example. It keeps its funding secret because it doesn’t represent the ordinary working stiffs it claims to; it’s an advocacy group for the super-rich, who fund it out of their very deep pockets.

Whether it’s the super-rich pretending to be ordinary people, religious fundamentalists claiming to be ordinary parents or anybody else with an agenda pretending they don’t, every time they’re given a platform the platform provider is failing its viewers, its listeners or its readers.