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LGBTQ+ Media

The Guardian: don’t you dare criticise us

There’s been a lot of online upset over yet another anti-trans column in The Guardian, part of its overwhelmingly negative and one-sided coverage of trans-related issues – coverage that has led three trans staff to resign and notable trans writers to refuse to write for the paper.

This week over 200 notable feminists wrote to the paper in protest and to affirm their support of trans people. The Guardian treated their letter with contempt.

As Gal-Dem explains:

The Guardian published the letter, but perhaps the most disheartening part of this process was their decision to title it: “Differing perspectives on trans rights”, and summarise over 200 signatories to 14 plus “over 100 others”. On the same page, the paper also included a number of letters in support of the original piece; something they did not do for a letter in support of sex-based organising with 13 signatories last week.

It wasn’t for reasons of space; the online version didn’t list the signatories either. Here’s a summary from PinkNews.

British politicians including Sian Berry, co-leader of the Green Party; Christine Jardine, the Liberal Democrat equalities spokesperson; and Labour MPs Zarah Sultana and Nadia Whitome have all signed the letter.

…It is signed by leading women and non-binary people from a cross-section of British public life, including musician Beth Ditto; author Reni Eddo-Lodge; UK Black Pride founder Lady Phyll; editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, Claire Hodgson; Jo Grady, the general secretary of the UCU; and Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK.

A further 2,000 people (and climbing; right now the list of signatories just cracked 2,500) then wrote to the paper to protest its anti-trans coverage.

We the undersigned write to protest the on-going and extensive series of articles you have published claiming that women are being ‘silenced’ and that men are being invited into women-only spaces.

In the past year, you have run many articles seeking to position trans women as a threat to cis women, and arguing that cis women object to – and should object to – trans women in women-only space.

The letter is unlikely to get a more favourable response than the last one: shortly before it was submitted, Guardian editor Katharine Viner wrote to her staff to inform them that the paper is committed to represent “a wide range of views on many topics”– unless those views are critical of Guardian columnists. Staff were warned:

“It is never acceptable to attack colleagues whose views you do not agree with, whether in meetings, on email, publicly or on social media.”

In response, over 300 Guardian employees – a fifth of its workforce across not just editorial but production, commercial and digital too – have written to express their disgust at the paper’s stance. The list of signatories hasn’t been published, but it apparently includes some of the paper’s star writers.

We are proud to work at a newspaper which supports human rights and gives voice to people underrepresented in the media. But the pattern of publishing transphobic content has interfered with our work and cemented our reputation as a publication hostile to trans rights and trans employees.

That’s an incredible number of people for any media organisation, but particularly for a paper that’s supposed to be speaking truth to power and defending minorities.