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Bullshit LGBTQ+ Media

When the media promotes conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories aren’t just the preserve of cranks. The Sunday Times ran a long campaign claiming that AIDS was the invention of a “gay lobby”; as recently as 2009 The Spectator’s Fraser Nelson claimed that the link between HIV and AIDS was contentious and that “debate” on the subject was being silenced by a “strong and vociferous lobby”.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, much of the UK press chastised those who sought to “silence” Andrew Wakefield’s discredited and dangerous claims about the safety of the MMR vaccine, coverage that brought a fatal, preventable disease back into our classrooms.

Just this weekend, The Sun published a far-right conspiracy theory claiming Jeremy Corbyn was part of a shadowy network of hard-left extremists – an article it quickly and quietly unpublished.

So we’re hardly in uncharted territory if sections of the media promote conspiracy theories today. They do, particularly around trans people. This week, they’re claiming that Big Pharma is paying the Liberal Democrats to force gender recognition reform into law, thereby turning all our children trans, because reasons.

This isn’t just cranks on social media. It’s Radio 4’s Today Programme and the Murdoch Press.

Here’s the Sunday Times’ explanation.

Ferring Pharmaceuticals donates to the Lib Dems.

True. It’s done so for years, to the tune of about £1.5m.

It markets the drug Triptorelin

Also true.

“which is used to block puberty among adolescents”.

That’s a deliberate distortion. Triptorelin is not primarily prescribed as a puberty blocker. It is a cancer drug, and it’s used overwhelmingly for cancer patients – thousands of them, compared to the few dozen for whom it’s used to treat precocious puberty or as a puberty blocker.

Now, Ferring doesn’t appear to be a very nice company. Pharmaceutical firms rarely are. But it’s not mainly in the puberty blocking business. It’s in the cancer business, which is much more profitable. The entire market for puberty blockers in the NHS is worth around £90,000 a year, but it spends more than £2 billion on cancer treatments.

Let’s think for a moment. Which is more likely: a corporation that makes cancer drugs spending £1.5m as an insurance policy for a market sector worth £2,000,000,000 per year, or a corporation that makes cancer drugs spending £1.5m to make all the children transgender so it can bring in £90,000 a year?

Aha, the anti-trans lot say. But the market will grow. There are so many people trying to access gender clinics that the market for puberty blockers will soon be worth, like, lots and lots and lots. Maybe eleventy billion pounds a week.

More referrals does not mean more prescriptions. In 2014-2015, the number of under-15s referred to the UK’s only gender clinic for adolescents rose from 46 to 52 – but the number of people prescribed hormone blockers dropped from 41 to 32. Puberty blocking remains exceptionally rare. These drugs aren’t and won’t be handed out like sweets.

And remember, the alleged plot here is that the money from Big Pharma is going on lobbying for reform of the Gender Recognition Act, which has no connection with trans healthcare of any kind, let alone adolescent healthcare.

The argument, then, goes something like this.

  • Cancer drugs firm donates not to the political parties that will win the election, but to one that won’t
  • Political party that won’t win the election will somehow force the other parties to make paperwork slightly easier for trans adults, which they’d promised to do anyway
  • Something something something think of the children

Not mad enough? On social media, high profile figures with tens of thousands of followers decided to add yet more skulduggery to the equation.

  • Vladimir Putin wants all UK children turned trans, because reasons
  • Putin gives a gong to the boss of a cancer drugs firm, possibly with mind control technology inside it
  • Cancer firm donates not to the political parties that will win the election, but to one that won’t
  • Political party that won’t win the election will somehow force the other parties to make paperwork slightly easier for trans adults, which they’d promised to do anyway
  • Something something something think of the children

How did we end up with Vladimir Putin? Well, the boss of Ferring, Frederick Paulsen, has been awarded the Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation. What more proof do you need?

Of course, Paulsen has been given some other honours. Maybe if we looked into that we could see just how big this international conspiracy really is.

Paulsen’s honours include:

  • The French legion of honour.
  • The Order of the Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan.
  • The Order of Merit Class I by Germany.
  • The Cross of the Order of Chivalry by Denmark.
  • The OBE, the Order of St John Service Medal and Freeman of the City of London.
  • The Scottish Geographical Medal.
  • The Companion of the Royal Aero Club of the UK.
  • An honorary professorship of the University of Dundee.

Now, I don’t want to alarm you, but clearly it isn’t just Putin. The international transgender conspiracy goes much deeper and includes President Macron of France, Angela Merkel of Germany, Queen Margarethe II of Denmark, King Wangchuck of Bhutan, The Queen of England, the Scottish Geographical Society, The Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom and the entire University of Dundee. Together they are united with a single goal: to get the Lib Dems into power to turn all your children trans.

Either that, or sections of the mainstream media will happily promote unhinged conspiracy theories that help create fear and distrust of trans people.

One of these possibilities is much more likely, and much more frightening, than the other.