A terrible thing that didn’t happen

On Saturday, the Daily Mail published a made-up story about something that didn’t happen. I know that is hardly news, but neither was the story. It’s just yet another made-up piece trying to spread fear of trans people, the kind of thing that ends up being quoted by politicians who want to remove our healthcare and human rights.

The article isn’t so much a red flag as a flag shop that only sells red flags and that just got a big stock delivery from the red flag distributor. According to Tory councillor Ruth Sampson, she was in the ladies toilet of a pub when she had a conversation with a trans woman (who “towered” over her) about the absence of paper towels to dry their hands.

The key assertion in the story is that in the absence of towels, the woman told the councillor that “I’m going to wipe my hands on my penis.” This, according to the councillor, is definitely a thing that actually happened, and it therefore proves that trans women should be excluded from the ladies and all other facilities they are legally entitled to use. To undermine this, said councillor immediately wrote to anti-trans Tory equalities minister, Kemi Badenoch, rather than speak to the police, because that’s what you do, isn’t it?

Unfortunately for the councillor, the trans woman concerned read the article too. And her side of the story is somewhat different. She had been attending a vigil in memory of a murdered trans girl, went to a pub afterwards, and in the bathroom conversation in question she said “oh, well I’ll just wipe my hands on my jeans then”, left, and thought nothing more of it.

Which one do you think is most likely? That a trans woman, sad from a vigil and going about her everyday business, would decide to try and intimidate a random woman for no reason? Or that a young, grasping Tory councillor thought she’d try and raise her profile among her fellow Tories with a bit of the old transphobia that seems so popular among her elders?

The article is a case study in subtle demonisation and defamation. She won’t face any consequences for adding to the anti-trans panic, and because the trans woman isn’t named the press regulations mean the Daily Mail won’t either. It’s all grist for the mill that wants to grind trans people into dust.





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