There’s a great interview with the equally great Ruth Hunt, departing CEO of Stonewall, in Buzzfeed News. Ruth hasn’t just had a hard job. She’s had to deal with constant online abuse, some of it criminal, and has been the target of bigoted pundits in the media too.
â€œMainstream newspapers running consistently transphobic articles, day in, day out, ostensibly expressing concern about the fate of butch lesbians?!â€ Hunt sniffs with contempt before finally letting go.
â€œItâ€™s like, â€˜You have not written a SINGLE positive piece about butch lesbians in my ENTIRE ADULT LIFE. Your style pages have not reflected me; your problem pages, your look, your discussion about lesbian identity, has never included me. Donâ€™t you DARE pretend that you are now advocating for me as an excuse to attack trans people. THAT makes me angry.â€
The increasingly unhinged scaremongering over trans women has led to Hunt being repeatedly questioned in the toilets because she doesn’t look stereotypically female. On Twitter last night, a Scottish journalist noted that exactly the same thing happened to her wife:
I want to say to â€œgender criticalâ€ people:Â
You are damaging trans people, and thatâ€™s bad enough.Â
BUT YOU ARE ALSO DAMAGING THE PEOPLE YOU CLAIM TO BE PROTECTING.
Back to the article. This, about the online noise over gender recognition reform, is really interesting.
when Huntâ€™s experience of Twitter was an endless shelling against trans rights, the charity sought external help â€” specifically, to investigate what exactly was happening on social media and what it meant. It looked as though those against trans inclusion and attempts to simplify gender recognition were a large proportion of the total.
The analysis found that the supposed majority was just a vocal minority.
A similar distortion played out in the media earlier this month. The Sunday Times published a letter from 30 academics urging universities to â€œsever their linksâ€ with Stonewall for â€œstifling academiaâ€ because it encourages universities to oppose transphobia. It appeared to represent, in its dozens of signatories from across British higher education, a predominant position within academia.
But just days later, a counterpetition of academics, supporting Stonewall and opposing transphobia, attracted 3,600 signatures. This was not reported in the Sunday Times.
I liked the bit in brackets here
The decision to embrace trans rights led to her and Stonewall being engulfed in hostility. Regular deluges on social media. Weekly, sometimes daily, criticism in the media. High-profile lesbians and gay men criticising her and her charity, withdrawing personal donations, signing petitions in protest â€” moves all eagerly published by right-wing newspapers. (It hasnâ€™t worked overall, though: donations are up 11%.)