We’re having a bit of a moment here in Scotland over that favourite target of the US Christian right, drag queen story time. The current Scots story is a gift to conservatives: a drag performer booked to read to kids delivered a perfectly age-appropriate reading because, hey! Performers can have different personas for different age groups! However, one look at their social media should have suggested that perhaps it would be wise to book someone whose Instagram wasn’t quite so adult. There was no way there wouldn’t be a reaction.
But this reaction has been extraordinary, both in terms of the volume and the viciousness of the response: a lot of it has been variations on the theme of “queers are paedos, stay away from my kids or I swear I’ll do time”. It has been astonishingly, frighteningly ugly, and pretty much everybody who’s been actively demonising trans people over the last few years has been pouring petrol on the flames.
Christine Burns MBE was one of the architects of the gender recognition act and is the author of Trans Britain, a book detailing the long history of trans people, trans rights and anti-trans abuse in the UK. A few days before this particular story broke, she posted:
After two and a half years of pretty sustained vilification of Britain’s trans people across most of the press and corners of political discourse I worry that we are heading for a watershed event. That is the way things go and I’m worried sick about which of my friends will die.
I hope she’s wrong, but I fear she isn’t.