Categories
Bullshit LGBTQ+ Media

Belief

Over the next few days you’re going to hear a lot about Maya Forstater, the contractor who took her former employer to a tribunal after they didn’t renew her contract. Forstater is vocally anti-trans and claims that she was discriminated against because of this.

The tribunal found that Forstater’s views, which she claimed were a protected belief under the Equality Act, were not worthy of respect in a democratic society. Forstater appealed and a judge ruled yesterday that unless you’re actually advocating for a Final Solution, your beliefs are not relevant to your employment – unless, and this is crucial, those beliefs lead you to abuse other people.

This has been predictably misinterpreted by the transphobe crowd, who believe they’ve been given carte blanche to abuse trans people in the workplace. But the judgement does not say that. In fact, it specifically says that trans people are protected from workplace discrimination and malicious behaviour, and that having a protected belief is not a get out of jail card for harassment or hostility.

This is not new. Lots of cases have said that yes, vile views are protected beliefs under the EqA; no, that doesn’t mean you can be a dick to people at work.

Abigail Thorn of Philosophy Tube summed up the verdict and the anti-trans mob’s reaction perfectly:

Judge: “Yeah so you’re free to believe the moon landing was fake and you can maybe even work at NASA if they’ll have you, but you can’t keep calling Buzz Aldrin ‘a lying piece of shit who fucks dogs’ to his face okay?”

MF: “Ah, my beliefs about the “Moon” have been vindicated!”

Categories
LGBTQ+ Media

The war on Stonewall

Stonewall is Europe’s leading LGBT+ charity, and for the last few weeks it’s been under sustained attack by The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail, Spiked and The Spectator, as well as the UK government’s Equalities Office. The allegations against it are demonstrably false, but that hasn’t stopped gallons of ink being spilt.

Stephen Paton writes in The National about the latest flood of bullshit, and notes:

Without doubt, this Pride Month is taking place against a backdrop of the most open hostility toward lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and queer folk in recent history.

This manufactured outrage against trans people has now begun leading to dire outcomes that will affect the entire LGBTQ+ community in Scotland and the rest of the UK – as many of us repeatedly warned that it would.

With its relentless attacks on Stonewall, the anti-trans brigade has handed the most right-wing British Government in recent history the means to begin cutting ties with Europe’s largest LGBTQ+ rights organisation with little in the way of push back – and it has gleefully snatched that opportunity.

Categories
Bullshit Media

“Rhetorical horseshit”

Former Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger gave an interview to The New Statesman in which he happily claimed that kids today are easily triggered snowflakes who can’t handle robust debate. If you’re thinking that’s the kind of crap you’d expect from a columnist in the right-wing press, you’re not the only one: journalist Mic Wright thinks so too.

Rusbridger’s worldview has become increasingly indistinguishable from the ‘free speech’ teethgnashers at titles like The Times and The Daily Telegraph. A man described by the former Observer editor Roger Alton as “admired, but not hugely loved”, Rusbridger is a creature of the establishment who still thinks himself a radical.

The argument Rusbridger is putting forward is simplistic and, in my opinion, wrong: the only way to defeat vile speech – misinformation, propaganda, hate speech and so on – is with more speech. That may be true in the debating halls of a university but it absolutely isn’t true in the wider world, where misinformation, propaganda and hate speech thrive and have demonstrable real-world effects.

I’m currently reading How Fascism Works by Jason Stanley, which goes into some detail about the dehumanisation of minorities. One of the examples he uses is the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, which has been ongoing since 2016; Facebook was instrumental in sowing the seeds of hatred. Here’s the New York Times:

They posed as fans of pop stars and national heroes as they flooded Facebook with their hatred. One said Islam was a global threat to Buddhism. Another shared a false story about the rape of a Buddhist woman by a Muslim man.

The Facebook posts were not from everyday internet users. Instead, they were from Myanmar military personnel who turned the social network into a tool for ethnic cleansing, according to former military officials, researchers and civilian officials in the country.

Members of the Myanmar military were the prime operatives behind a systematic campaign on Facebook that stretched back half a decade and that targeted the country’s mostly Muslim Rohingya minority group.

Wright:

The veneration of debate by people like Rusbridger always forgets a crucial element: Power. Debates do not occur in some kind of pocket dimension where every speaker has the same level of social, cultural, and economic capital. The former editor of The Guardian, sat in the comfortable surroundings of an Oxford College which he runs will obviously love debate because they are never about his right to exist. It’s a party game for him, not an existential question.

I’ve written about this before. The people who commission click-bait columns about minorities, who frame people’s basic human rights as merely one side of a debate, who knowingly platform bad actors because it’s good for ratings or page views… these people are isolated from the consequences of what they do and the views they broadcast and give legitimacy to. They are not the ones who will be discriminated against, the ones whose rights are threatened, the ones who will experience aggression and even violence. For them, it’s just another item.

As Wright says, “The liberal delusion that debate can and will solve everything is insidious.” By framing matters of life and death as a parlour game, people like Rusbridger help hatred to flourish.

Categories
Media

Comedy for the terminally online

Bo Burnham’s latest Netflix special, Inside, is extraordinary. I laughed like a drain and then cried my eyes out.

Categories
LGBTQ+

Straight talking

One of the many irritating things about the endless torrents of anti-trans bullshit is the false distinction between trans people and LGB people, as if trans people aren’t also lesbian, gay, bisexual or any other part of the rainbow. Fewer than 10% of us are straight.

This is something that comes up again and again in large scale surveys of LGBT+ people. For example, according to the UK Government’s National LGBT Survey in 2018, 71% of trans people are gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual or queer; 5.4% are asexual, and 9.4% are straight. This aligns with previous surveys in the US that found 60% to 70% of trans people did not consider themselves to be straight.

Anyone who tells you trans rights are in conflict with LGB rights is lying to you. Most trans people aren’t just the T in LGBT+: they’re the L and the G and the B (and the Q and the A).

Categories
Bullshit LGBTQ+ Media Technology

Stick your rainbow

I wrote a piece for T3 about Pride Month and the way some tech firms’ support for the LGBT+ community doesn’t go beyond putting a rainbow on their social media logo.

Earlier this year, a damning study by GLAAD confirmed what marginalised people already know: every single major social networking platform is “categorically unsafe” for LGBT+ people. But hey! They’ve put a rainbow on their logo!

If tech firms really mean it, we need them to do more than post platitudes. We need them to make their platforms safe for marginalised people by actually enforcing their policies against harassment and hate speech. We need them to stop financially supporting anti-LGBT+ politicians in order to get tax breaks. We need them to donate to LGBT+ organisations and advocacy groups who can make a practical difference in the lives of the people who’ve been affected negatively.

But most of all, they need to hire and promote LGBT+ people – particularly people who are also marginalised by race, class, disability or gender. Good decision-making will only come from people who really understand the problems, and who understand the positive and negative impacts of their decisions.

But if you think the tech world is bad, they’ve got nothing on the Tories. Today the Government Equalities Office and the Conservative party have posted their scheduled Pride tweets despite being demonstrably anti-LGBT+. It’s particularly galling to see the GEO claiming credit for equal marriage in Northern Ireland, something the Conservatives and their DUP allies fought tooth and nail.

As I wrote in my piece:

it’s a hollow, selfish gesture: the aim isn’t to help LGBT+ people, but to burnish the corporate image. Telling the world that you agree LGBT+ people exist means nothing when LGBT+ people’s rights, healthcare and safety are under unprecedented attack worldwide.

And it means even less when you’re the ones doing the attacking.

Categories
LGBTQ+

“These words can be a revelation, but you are not beholden to them”

This, by a poster called Pyrrhiccomedy on Tumblr, is very wise. It’s in response to a question asking them whether they still identified as asexual; the questioner thought they were, but is with a new partner and feels different.

The words you put on your orientation are not elementally a part of you. They are tools, and as tools they should serve a function. That function can be to help you understand and categorize your own experiences and desires. It can be to help you find a community. It can be to help you get laid. It can just be to set social expectations. These words can be a revelation when you first apply them to yourself: they can be life-saving. But you are not beholden to them.

Categories
Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

Read it and weep

This is where all the anti-trans hysteria in the press and online leads: a young mum savagely beaten with a crowbar by a gang of 13 people for no other reason than they thought she was trans.

Lauren Garrison was enjoying a night out with her friends when she was called a “dirty d***” and a “tr****” by a gang of 13 youths outside the Three Fishes pub in Chapel Road, Worthing on Monday.

After confronting the group of ten boys and three girls, the 28-year-old was attacked with a crowbar, leaving her unconscious.

The mother-of-one suffered a concussion and fears she may be left with permanent damage after bursting a blood vessel in her eye.

As Jane Carnall, aka EdinburghEye, writes on Twitter:

The woman this gang of thugs attacked had been visually identified as trans by these men & women who, like the anti-trans activists I was arguing with yesterday, were sure they could just “tell” when a woman is trans or cis.

The crime these 13 anti-trans thugs committed is a transphobic and homophobic hate crime, They beat her, they said “trans people should be shot”, they used slurs – they attacked her violently because they had used that visual “check” & decided she wasn’t “really” a woman.

Categories
Health Hell in a handcart

Glasgow to exit lockdown in 2093

I know it’s necessary but I’m long past the point of expecting Glasgow’s COVID restrictions to be lifted any time soon: that’s us going into week 38 of the temporary 2-week restrictions that we’ve been living under since September. As Fraser Stewart pointed out on Twitter, there are Glaswegians who fell pregnant at the start of those measures who’ll be due to give birth soon.

Categories
LGBTQ+

“If LGBTQ rights are the preserve of the woke, does that mean real people aren’t gay?”

One of the downsides of not buying overtly transphobic newspapers is that I’m not supporting the work of good people such as Zoe Williams. Today’s column in the Guardian on the so-called war on woke is wise and witty:

Your average transgender woman could be forgiven for wondering what exactly she did so wrong that she’s now seemingly held responsible for such a significant proportion of all political ills

…Social conservatism, a loose and elastic concept, can simply roam about, choosing fresh things to dislike. Yesterday it was trans people; today it’s footballers showing solidarity with Palestine; tomorrow it’ll be Michel Barnier.