“You invited us here to celebrate genitals, Karen”

The blurb for this cake says: “Wheels for boys or heels for girls?…boys love cars and girls love heels”.

Here’s a fun question for you. Which group of people is so obsessed with enforcing regressive gender stereotypes that they’ve killed a woman, injured several others and set fire to various bits of land?

Is it:

(a) LGBT+ people?
(b) The straights?

It is of course (b), thanks to one of the most awful facets of modern culture: the gender reveal event. Because a baby shower isn’t enough, some parents are trying to get others excited about the genitals of their imminent children in increasingly elaborate ways. And those ways are dangerous and sometimes lethal.

Julie Beck in The Atlantic:

At least one human life has already been lost as a direct result of the widespread obsession with turning the sex of one’s unborn child into an explosive (often literally) spectacle. In October, an Iowa woman was killed when her family inadvertently built a pipe bomb as part of their gender-reveal party—a gathering at which expectant parents dramatically and colorfully announce the sex of their baby.

What started off with blue or pink cakes has become much more elaborate and dangerous. In recent months we’ve seen gender reveal plane crashes, gender reveal pipe bombs, gender reveal wildfires and many other examples of sheer genital-obsessed idiocy.

Jenna Karvunidis, the blogger credited with starting the craze more than a decade ago deeply regrets it, not least because her own child is gender non-conforming. “I started to realize that nonbinary people and trans people were feeling affected by this, and I started to feel bad that I had released something bad into the world”, she said this year.

That’s because you don’t need to blow up grandma or crash a crop-duster for gender reveals to be idiotic and regressive. There’s a distinct whiff of sexism to the whole thing. Beck:

Not only does the very idea of gender-reveal conflate gender with biological sex, but many parties reinforce masculine and feminine stereotypes with themes like “touchdowns or tutus?” and “guns or glitter?” [CM: there are many more, such as “wheels or heels?” and “riffles or rifles?”] (These regressive overtones have made hating on gender reveals just as commonplace as the parties themselves.) Trouble can also ensue if a parent was hoping for one sex and their disappointment ends up immortalized online.

The sheer wrongness of the whole thing is best summed up in a single tweet.

If you’re gonna do a gender reveal party, don’t play coy with colored smoke or whatever. When you blow up that cake, I expect to see a giant sign saying “IT’S A PENIS!” Showers of dicks raining down like confetti. You invited us here to celebrate genitals, Karen. You wanted this.

The sin of omission

Something that’s puzzled me for a while is how so many people believe that Donald Trump and his administration are pro-LGBT+ when they’ve been so viciously anti-LGBT+: from the transgender military ban onwards, they have mounted a sustained attack on the basic rights of LGBT+ people in an ongoing campaign to remove the most basic human rights such as protection from discrimination in housing, healthcare and employment.

The most recent example of that is the November 1 rule that will allow adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT+ parents. Agencies that receive federal grants will no longer have to abide by non-discrimination guidelines thanks to new “religious freedom” exemptions, exemptions that also apply to sexual health education, youth homelessness programmes, drug and alcohol recovery programmes and other key services.

It’s a horrible backwards step that’s going to have terrible effects on some of the most vulnerable people, so why aren’t more people up in arms about it?

Because they don’t know about it.

A study by MediaMatters found that the majority of America’s top newspapers didn’t report it. Of the top 50 titles, 28 didn’t publish a single item in print or online about the new rule.

Of the papers that did report it, many uncritically quoted extremist anti-LGBT+ evangelical groups including the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council. Only one paper, the New York Daily News, reminded its readers that these organisations have spent decades inciting hatred of LGBT+ people.

The lack of context means that people are incredibly ill-informed.

It is also crucial for media to cover individual actions like the new rule as one piece of the Trump-Pence administration’s broader, vehemently anti-LGBTQ record. The New York Daily News and The Washington Post provided two good examples of this in their reporting, as both contextualized the rule as part of the larger attack and rollback of LGBTQ rights. Most coverage unfortunately failed to do this, which may mislead readers into thinking the administration’s attacks on LGBTQ rights could be a one-off occurrence.

As MediaMatters explains, the mainstream US press was keen to portray Trump as pro-LGBT+ during his presidential campaign on his say-so, and it has conspicuously failed to report on anti-LGBT+ actions by his administration since he took power. That has left a vacuum the right-wing press and social media have been only too keen to fill with propaganda.

In the absence of meaningful mainstream reporting on Trump’s anti-LGBTQ onslaught, right-wing and evangelical media often dominate coverage of the issue and twist the attacks on basic LGBTQ rights into a fight for “religious freedom.”

The news media’s job is to report and contextualise, to educate and inform, to speak truth to power. When it fails to do that, whether by bias or omission, it becomes part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Daddy doesn’t know best

Writing in Vox, Katelyn Burns’ piece about Luna Younger demonstrates why media outlets should have trans people covering trans issues: unlike pretty much every piece about the poor kid I’ve read so far, it eschews ill-informed scaremongering.

If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s about a horrible battle in the US between two estranged parents over their 7-year-old child after the mum took out a restraining order against the father. The child has been consistent about her gender identity since she was three, and her mum has let her present as she wishes – as a girl. Her dad disagrees vehemently, and has taken to the courts and to the right-wing media, culminating in a judge’s decision to overrule the jury that granted the mother sole custody. It has become a cause celebre among US conservatives, with Donald Trump and Ted Cruz suggesting that letting Luna be herself is “child abuse”.

As Burns notes:

The case has hit a boiling point where lives feel threatened and trans families inside and outside of Texas feel unsafe — all over whether a child should be allowed to wear a dress and be called “she” and “her.”

Much of the reporting over the Younger case has claimed that her mother, Anne Georgulas, wants to “chemically castrate” her and force her into medical transition because “she wants a girl”. But as Burns points out, Georgulas already has daughters from a previous relationship; and at age 7 there is no medical involvement whatsoever. Social transition for this kid is wearing her hair long and donning the odd frock, things that are completely superficial and reversible (albeit important to the child).

Burns’ report paints a very different picture than the right-wing press, which has gone with the father’s side of the story and portrayed him as a saint battling political correctness and “gender ideology” gone mad. The court documents are considerably less favourable, suggesting a serial liar whose main concern is how to make money from demonising his estranged partner and bullying one of his children.

According to court documents of the annulment of his and Georgulas’s marriage, the court found that Younger lied about multiple aspects of his life: his career, his previous marriages, his income, his education, and even his military service. It was enough for a Texas court to annul their six-year marriage because it was entered into under fraudulent terms.

Judge Cooks also called out Younger for profiting off a violation of his family’s privacy. “The father finds comfort in public controversy and attention surrounded by his use of unfounded facts and is thus motivated by financial gain of approximately $139,000 which he has received at the cost of the protection and privacy of his children,” she wrote in her judgment, referring to a crowdfunding and merchandising scheme launched last year by Younger.

Even conservative pundit Glenn Beck expressed concern over Younger’s past. On his radio show, he read the court’s findings of fact showing that Younger acted aggressively toward Georgulas’s older daughters, withholding their possessions, locking them in their rooms, and forcing them to do “plank push-ups” until they agreed to follow house rules.

That aggressiveness was also directed at Luna

There are of course two sides to every story, but the picture that emerges from the court documents hardly makes it sound like a case of fatherly love denied.

The child’s father wasn’t particularly keen to exercise his custody rights, refuses to accept the recommendations of any of the professionals involved in his daughter’s care, does not attend appointments or seek the second opinions he claims to want, and treats his daughter in an aggressive and arguably malicious way: where her twin brother’s hair is left long, her father deliberately shaves her head.

Burns:

Luna’s hair figures so prominently in this case because at age 7, hair is often the only differentiating physical indicator of a child’s gender. Clothed, boys’ and girls’ bodies at that age are essentially the same, having not yet undergone any effects from puberty. A trans child at age 7 does not make permanent changes to their body, despite what Younger claims Georgulas wants to do.

Ultimately, the dispute at this current stage — and several years into the future — is over Luna’s social transition: how she wears her hair, what clothes she wears, her name, and pronouns.

Luna is not taking any medication, let alone undergoing any surgical intervention. Her care is in accordance with international best practice.  Those details are missing from almost all of the reporting.

But then, the reporting isn’t concerned about the welfare of the child. The people who scream “think of the children!” rarely do.

Money for nothing

Interesting developments at the LGB Alliance, the newly launched anti-trans group. It’s managed to raise over £25,000 in largely anonymous donations in just 11 days of existence, largely due to support from right-wing media here and in the US.

The right-wing press and the US religious right like the Alliance because while it advances the same argument as the most hateful religious conservatives – trans people’s rights are at odds with LGB people’s rights, even though the majority of trans people are themselves LGB; trans people aren’t really people and don’t deserve human rights; trans people are icky – its figureheads are a black woman and a gay man. That means unlike straight white guys, they can’t be criticised because there have been no wicked, misinformed or bigoted black or gay people in the history of the world ever.

The right-wing support has no doubt helped the fundraising, as it’s helped other anti-trans fundraisers in the past. But it’s interesting to look at this particular one, because this is very specifically claiming to be an alliance of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the UK.

So why are so many of the supporters straight people from North America?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s lovely to see so many straight people such keen allies of LGB people and putting their money where their mouths are.

But it’s also rather strange.

There are lots of fundraisers online for LGBT things. And almost all of them are struggling to meet their targets, whether that’s a few hundred quid for a poster campaign or a few grand to do up an LGBT+ community centre.

What all those fundraisers have in common is the distinct lack of straight Americans and Canadians offering solidarity and throwing their money at them.

But when a couple of people in the UK start a group designed to destabilise Stonewall, the trans-inclusive LGBT+ charity named after the Stonewall riots that were in part started by trans people, it’s a different story.

Why would straight people from the US and Canada be so passionate about destabilising the UK’s main LGBT+ charity?

If only there were some kind of explanation.

Anyway. £25K and counting. That’s a lot of money. Where’s it going? It isn’t a charity yet so it doesn’t need to tell you.

Here’s where it isn’t going. It isn’t going to help homeless LGB people, who – including trans kids – account for 24% of the UK’s under-25 homeless population. It isn’t going to lobby for proper funding of live-saving PReP medication for gay and bi men (and some trans women). It isn’t going anywhere near any cash-strapped LGBT organisations at all. It’s going on marketing, and on salaries, and on a launch event that will no doubt scaremonger about trans people.

It’s possible that the £25, 257 and counting is being donated by people who are also donating to other organisations – real ones that are registered charities. But it’s unlikely. Anti-trans crowdfunders consistently attract a very different funding pattern from other charity crowdfunders, and this appears to be no exception.

For two years now the crowdfunders of anti-trans organisations have all followed the same pattern: supposedly grassroots organisations raising five-figure sums within days of going online, with promotional support from the US Christian and conservative right on social media and sometimes in major publications too.

The LGB Alliance has now raised its funding target from the initial £25,000 to £50,000. How much of that money will go to provide practical assistance for LGB people rather than demonising trans women? The answer, I suspect, is none.

We know how this will play out. We know this because we saw endless “protect women!” crowdfunders raising five-figure sums incredibly quickly over the last few years. That money didn’t go to fight for Northern Irish women’s reproductive freedom or marriage rights. It didn’t go to fight FGM, or fund rape crisis charities, or help women’s refuges, or go to any vulnerable women or girls.

At least a quarter of a million pounds was raised by a handful of anti-trans groups, and much of it was spent on newspaper adverts that lied about the law, on packs urging schools to break the Equality Act and bully children, and on providing a good living for people whose previous careers had ended in failure. In one case it even bought a bigot some bedding.

Some crowdfunders didn’t even pretend to be about protecting women. One prominent anti-trans activist crowdfunded £2,000 for her own living expenses because being a bigot is so time-consuming; another, claiming to have lost their job for speaking out about trans people, raised a barely believable £64,000 for nothing in particular.

Others raised money for specific purposes and then changed their remit, so for example one activist raised a five-figure sum to pay for legal representation in a case that didn’t then go to court. In one particularly egregious example, activists set up a crowdfunder as a thank you to a notorious anti-trans bigot; when the bigot declined to accept the money, much of it was spent on a new mattress for an anti-trans activist.

Not all of the people running crowdfunders are grifters. But as a rule of thumb, when the first thing someone does to “protect group X” is to ask for your money, it means they’re only interested in helping one very specific group of people.

Themselves.

Not all hate preachers have beards

Imagine if members of the Scottish Parliament invited leading far-right “race realist” figures to address the parliament about The Great Replacement, the white nationalist conspiracy theory. They would tell MSPs about how political and social elites were harming ordinary white men and women by encouraging immigration. They would claim that this global conspiracy, a conspiracy many of their followers blame the Jews for funding, will render white people powerless, and they would advocate for the rollback of decades-old equality legislation so that black and brown people would not be entitled to protection from discrimination or hate crimes.

Would they get away with it?

Of course they wouldn’t. But swap brown people for trans ones and that’s exactly what MSP Joan McAlpine is doing.

To mark International Trans Day of Remembrance, which mourns trans people murdered as a result of anti-trans hatred, McAlpine is hosting a bigot party that’s going to stir up even more hatred. That appears to be its entire purpose. Various “gender critical” extremists are going to tell MSPs that political and social elites are harming ordinary women by encouraging “transgenderism”. They will claim that this global conspiracy, which their followers often blame the Jews for funding, will render cisgender people powerless, and they will advocate for the rollback of decades-old equality legislation that protects trans people from discrimination and hate crimes.

McAlpine, a former member of disgraced former First Minister Alex Salmond’s inner circle, appears to be one of several SNP figures who are using transphobia as a wedge and trans people as collateral damage in their attempts to undermine Nicola Sturgeon.

But her position, and the people she’s platforming, have become much more extreme. What began with disingenuous assertions about “reasonable concerns” regarding the Gender Recognition Act has become what appears to be the very deliberate, malicious platforming of hate speech.

This latest event is to promote a “Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights”, a declaration that’s entirely about trying to remove fifty years of protections for trans people. It is not about the Gender Recognition Act of “reasonable concerns” fame, which would be bad enough. It’s about trying to roll back the Equality Act of 2010 and pretty much any relevant protections introduced since the 1970s.

And women’s rights organisations can see right through it.

Here’s Emma Ritch, director of the Engender feminist organisation.

This declaration… doesn’t include women’s rights to housing, pay equality, access to justice, social security, education, or political representation. When it talks about violence against women, freedom of expression, and children’s rights it does so entirely through the warped lens of antipathy towards trans people.

CommonSpace has spoken to all the major Scottish women’s groups, and their view is the same. As a spokesperson for Scottish Women’s Aid put it:

We are worried that some of the debate around trans inclusion has blurred the line between free speech and hate speech.

Here’s Christine Burns MBE, one of the people who helped create the Gender Recognition Act.

Let’s not beat about the bush: Elements within the SNP are advocating a policy on trans people that not only contravenes a unanimous judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in 2002 but suggests ignoring administrative principles established since 1970.

And here’s the Scottish Equality Network:

A “Declaration” recently circulated to MSPs says that trans people should always be treated, for all purposes (legal and otherwise) as the sex that they were registered at birth. That would breach the European Convention on Human Rights, and breach UK and EU equality law.

The speakers at McAlpine’s event will include Sheila Jeffreys, a lesbian separatist who isn’t very keen on bisexual people or straight women and who has claimed that trans people – who she calls “parasites” – are part of a government-sponsored plot to enforce gender stereotypes and wipe out homosexuality, because that’s a completely reasonable and not batshit insane thing to say. She bases this on Iran, where – according to her – cisgender gay men are transitioning to become women in incredible numbers because it’s easier to be trans than gay.

As Wikipedia notes: “The belief that cisgender homosexuals have actually undergone sex change due to social pressure is not supported by evidence.”

Here’s a typically measured, sensible, reasonable bit from Jeffreys where she advocates making it illegal, globally, for trans people to have gender confirmation surgery:

Janice Raymond does not consider that legislation outlawing surgery is the right way forward. I am not so sure, and classifying transsexualism as a human rights violation would be a step towards making surgery illegal.

– Journal of Lesbian Studies, p71, Vol 1, 1997

Note the date. Jeffreys has been banging her hateful gong for decades.

Jeffreys and her fellow speakers, inevitably, are the supposedly silenced free thinkers who talk endlessly about how they’re being prevented from sharing their crackpot conspiracy theories about trans people as they share their crackpot conspiracy theories about trans people in their books, in their lectures, in their national newspaper interviews and in their national broadcast interviews. And now, they’re getting to share their crackpot conspiracy theories about trans people in Parliament.

The CommonSpace piece does a good job of showing the big picture, but the rest of Scots media almost certainly won’t: the Herald, the Scotsman and The National, as well as the tabloids, have followed London’s lead and consistently amplified anti-trans extremists.

They have effectively silenced not just trans people and LGBT+ groups, but also the many women’s groups who recognise hatred when they see it.

Lies, dame lies

The president of actors’ union Equity has written to The Sunday Mirror about its story claiming “men could be banned from playing panto dames to free up the roles for trans performers”.

Guess what? It’s bullshit.

Here’s her letter.

When people show you who they are, believe them

There’s a famous quote by Maya Angelou: when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

It means that when someone shows you a clear red flag, you shouldn’t ignore it. Someone who disrespects you will continue to be disrespectful. Someone who is violent will continue to be violent. Someone who is hateful will continue to be hateful.

So I’m not joining in today’s surprise that Rod Liddle has written another hateful, racist piece for the hateful, racist Spectator. Liddle showed us who he was when he accepted a police caution for punching his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach, when he was found using a pseudonym to post racist remarks on football forums, and in pretty much every column he’s ever excreted for The Spectator and other vile rags.

Here in Scotland, a whole bunch of people have decided to show who they are thanks to a fabricated furore over a census question.

If you haven’t actually seen the question, here’s a screenshot from the census’s quality testing report, which this entire story has been based on.

The above question has been reported as the PC lobby forcing Scots people to choose from a “baffling” list of 21 sexualities. The reality is much more tedious. The list is for autocorrect entries so that if people choose the “another way” option, it’ll offer some other suggestions (and help harmonise the data by ensuring consistent spelling).

The story originated in the Murdoch press and was quickly picked up by the Scottish Daily Mail. We already know who these publications are, but they’re showing us again.

The Sun story is around 650 words. Its interviewees are an anti-trans academic and activist (this story has no connection to trans people at all), an unnamed Tory spokesperson, an evangelical anti-LGBT+ Christian group and the Catholic Church. The Daily Mail sought comment from an additional, extremely fringe, anti-feminist, anti-LGBT evangelical group who railed against “gender madness”, even though the story has no connection with anybody’s gender.

You’d think such obvious, politically motivated culture war framing – concoct a story about so-called identity politics, get the evangelical rent-a-gobs to damn it, tell your readers that the queers have gone too far this time and encourage them to post foul homophobic and transphobic vitriol in your comments sections – would prevent grown-ups from sharing it.

But you’d be wrong. People who previously limited their online abuse to abusing trans women, including senior newspaper journalists, bloggers and political figures, have seized upon this non-story, abusing the entire LGBT+ community for something the Murdoch press made up and standing proudly alongside some of the most viciously anti-women, anti-LGBT groups in the country.

They showed trans people who they were months and in some cases years ago. And now they’re showing you.

When people show you who they are, believe them.

Murdoch press in “printing bullshit” shocker

In today’s Scottish Sun, there’s a story about the 2021 census.

Like most things the Murdoch press prints in its ongoing campaign against LGBT+ people and trans people in particular, it isn’t true. It’s just an excuse to get the usual crowd of reactionaries – anti-trans academics, vocally anti-trans MSP Joan McAlpine, the Catholic Church and the evangelical Christian Institute – to mouth off about how it’s loony left political correctness gone maaaaaaaaad.

There will not be 21 options. There will be four: straight, gay/lesbian, bisexual or other. It’s the same question and set of responses that’s been used in a range of UK surveys for many years.

The list The Sun is talking about is for predictive text in the online form. When someone types into the “Other” field, the idea is to have autocorrect suggest options that other people have used in previous surveys.

As The Equality Network explains:

The list of 21 terms that the Sun prints is a list of the most common answers that people who select Other have given in past surveys.

If you select Other in the online Census, one of those terms may pop up (as a suggestion only) if it matches the first letters you type.

This bullshit is only going to get worse now an election is looming. In September, it emerged that the Tories were polling “culture war” issues they could use to sow division via the right-wing press. Human rights for trans people is one of those issues.

Update, 31 October

The way this is playing out in print and social media tells you a great deal about the people trying to spread hate. They aren’t just anti-trans. They’re anti-LGBT+. This story isn’t about gender. It’s about sexuality. And people are trying to weaponise it against the wider LGBT+ community.

Labour activist and gay man Duncan Hothersall on Twitter:

The census sexualities question stushie is really exposing the dishonesty at the heart of the “legitimate concerns” movement. MSPs and journalists ranting about “21 different sexualities” are compounding a basic misunderstanding into a revolting, and frankly homophobic, attack.

The attacks are coming from supposed LGB supporters who don’t really like the L, the G or the B any more than they like the T. From bloggers and social media trolls who are as homophobic as they are transphobic. From people who have moved from trying to police gender to trying to police sexuality. From people sharing a platform and often an ideology with Christian fundamentalists and the far right.

As Hothersall puts it:

Anti trans rhetoric leads to anti LGB rhetoric. Excusing hate legitimises more hate. Do better.

The Endocrine Society is getting really tired of this shit

“I’m getting pretty tired of this shit too” – estrogen, yesterday

Do you know what endocrinology is? It’s the branch of medical science that studies the endocrine system, the glands that secrete hormones. Hormones regulate our metabolism, our physical development, our reproductive function, our sleep, our mood… you get the idea.

The Endocrine Society is the international organisation for endocrinology experts, and it works in association with other groups such as the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the American Society of Andrology, the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology, the European Society of Endocrinology, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health in the study of hormone therapy for adults and puberty blocking for young people.

These guys, gals and everyone in between are the world’s leading experts in hormones and hormone treatment. Which is probably why right-wing newspapers never talk to them, because they’d spoil their hateful fun.

In the US, right-wing media has politicised a sad custody case involving a young trans kid, with experts such as Donald Trump’s idiot, conspiracy-peddling son and probable Zodiac killer Ted Cruz sharing their ill-informed and uneducated thoughts on subjects they know fuck-all about.

The Endocrine Society has, frankly, had enough of this bullshit.

In a very strongly worded editorial in their members’ magazine Endocrine News, the Society urges policy makers to shut the fuck up with their anti-trans bullshit. It’s not quite as strongly worded as that, but it’s as close as you can get in a medical journal:

many of the claims being made about gender-affirming care for transgender and gender-incongruent individuals are inaccurate.

…Claims that a transgender child would receive surgical or irreversible hormonal treatment do not reflect the reality of medical practice.

…Considerable scientific evidence has emerged demonstrating a durable biological element underlying gender identity. There do not seem to be external forces that genuinely cause individuals to change gender identity.

Suppressing puberty is fully reversible, and it gives individuals experiencing gender incongruence more time to explore their options and to live out their gender identity before they undergo hormone or surgical treatment. Research has found puberty suppression in this population improves psychological functioning.

It is critical that transgender individuals have access to the appropriate treatment and care to ensure their health and well-being.

…Policies concerning the diagnosis and treatment of transgender individuals should be based on science, not politics.

You can understand their frustration. In the current climate, solid, peer-reviewed science by people who know this field inside out is being ignored in favour of the thinky thoughts of yummy mummies, religious fundamentalists and far-right trolls who claim “facts don’t care about your feelings” while yelling the latter over the former, who claim to be “silenced” by “extremists” while silencing the very people who know the subject inside out.

The problem is not a lack of data. The problem is the same as with the anti-vaccination movement. The media is platforming scaremongering over science, feelings over facts and extremists over experts.

Boo!

Thanks to an important new study, I now realise that I have been possessed by a ghost.

It’s not just me. As this wonderful PinkNews headline puts it:

Completely legitimate, rational and not at all offensive study says 85% of queer people are possessed by ghosts

It seems that even in the spirit world, ghosts are stuck with binary definitions of gender: gay men have lady ghosts inside them, and gay women have man ghosts. The study does not provide an indication of what kind of ghost people like me (assigned male at birth but now transitioning, attracted to feminine people and therefore a slightly harder-to-label kind of gay) have inside us. Maybe we have multiple ghosts. There could be a ghost party going on inside me right now.

The PinkNews piece gets some good jokes out of a nonsense “spiritual group” and its scientific approach, which finds that the symptoms of being a ghost include absolutely everything in the world ever and that the cure is to chant while never, ever thinking about really hot gay, bi or lesbian men, women or non-binary people getting hot and naked and doing hot naked sexual things to your hot naked body as you writhe in orgasmic, ecstatic joy and end up having to wipe gloopy lumps of ectoplasm off the sofa.

WHATEVER YOU DO DON’T THINK OF THAT.

Cheap gags aside, though, here’s a question.

What’s the difference between bullshit, evidence-free stories claiming that LGBT+ people are possessed by ghosts and bullshit, evidence-free stories claiming they’re brainwashed members of a sinister cult?

The answer’s simple. The UK press is not currently commissioning and publishing endless articles claiming that members of the LGBT+ community are possessed by ghosts.