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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.

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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.

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Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

From “just asking questions” to this, in six months

In Texas, bill SB1646 would make it illegal for parents to support their trans children. Merely consenting to a doctor’s prescription of puberty blockers would be child abuse and cause to remove the child from their parents.

As writer Cassie Celeste put it on Twitter:

We’ve gone from “just asking questions” to this in six fucking months. Listen to us when we tell you what the consequences of platforming transphobic thought are going to be.

Here’s a good round-up of where this hatred is coming from and why it’s getting worse, with journalists proposing solutions to “the trans question” in chilling echoes of history.

“The queers are coming for your children” is the oldest anti-gay slur, but it’s alive and well not just in Texan courtrooms but in Scottish political discourse. Alex Salmond’s Alba Party caused online uproar over the weekend when it falsely claimed that LGBT+ organisations want to reduce the age of consent to 10 years old. The allegations are completely untrue but have been echoed by the usual hateful groups such as the LGB Alliance and For Women Scot.

It was good to see the widespread revulsion, but the very same people have been making equally vile allegations about trans people and trans-supportive charities for three years now and nobody seemed to have a problem with that. Quite the opposite: they have been repeatedly platformed and amplified by our press, politicians and media personalities.

This is how you can go from “just asking questions” to legalised hatred.

Categories
Bullshit Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

When the facts don’t fit, fix the facts

One of the problems with the Christian Right’s claims of trans kids being rushed into surgery is that trans kids aren’t being rushed into surgery. And that’s inconvenient when you’re trying to pass anti-trans legislation on the basis of protecting children from exactly that.

What’s a bigot to do?

Simple. Redefine the definition of kids to include adults.

I’m not kidding. In North Carolina, anti-trans Republican lawmakers have classed adults aged 18 to 21 as minors.

This enables them to do two things. One, claim that minors are being given cross-sex hormones and/or surgery, medical procedures that are indeed available to adults aged 18 to 21. And two, if the legislation is successful it means they can block healthcare for some adults as well as all teenagers.

The proposed legislation – which, thankfully, is unlikely to pass – makes it very clear what the real agenda is behind all of this. In addition to banning healthcare for trans people, it would also compel state employees to notify their parents in writing if their child displays “gender nonconformity” or expresses a desire to be treated in a way that is “incompatible” with the gender they were assigned at birth. These bills, of which there are far too many, are based on deeply regressive stereotypes of masculinity and femininity that want to keep women barefoot and pregnant and LGBT+ people in the closet.

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Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

Friends in the Right places

This week, tedious contrarian Julie Burchill’s new publisher was revealed to be white supremacist blogger “Miss Britannia”. Despite expressing her contempt for gay men, the blogger was a loud supporter of the LGB Alliance. Isn’t it funny how people who hate gay and lesbian people seem so drawn to an organisation that is supposedly pro-gay and lesbian people?

Trans people, particularly trans people of colour, have been trying to raise the alarm about the links between anti-trans activism and far right groups for several years now. As far as I’m aware, not a single UK newspaper has covered it at all.

The trans safety network has a good overview of the key players, most of whom are very well known.

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Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

Where are our allies?

This, by journalist and trans dad Freddy McConnell, is very good.

trans equality has not gone from progress to standing still. Under this parliament, and the watch of our current so-called equality ministers, the UK has lurched from progress to a measurable loss of rights for trans people, both young and old.

If our allies in government and media do not become more vigilant and proactive as a matter of emergency, trans people – friends, colleagues, classmates, siblings, children and parents – will be legislated out of public existence without the majority even noticing.

As in America, the Christian Right is currently targeting trans people at every level. The goal is really simple: it’s to make it impossible for trans people to live normally in society.

They start with the schools, demanding trans lives be excluded from relationship and sex education and that trans kids be forced to use facilities according to their birth sex, not their lived gender. They demand trans kids be excluded from anti-bullying and anti-discrimination protections.

For trans teenagers, they have already removed access to crucial healthcare. They want to go further and remove it for under-25s.

For trans adults, they want to criminalise private sourcing of HRT while on current trends, the waiting list for a first NHS appointment may now be 26 years for someone joining the waiting list today.

Also for trans adults they want to remove anti-discrimination protections in work, in employment and in public. They just spent £100,000 to try and stop the census counting how many trans people there are. They have demanded gender-neutral language in legislation be changed specifically to exclude trans men.

O’Connell:

The strategy itself appears to look like this: target laws and policies that accidentally or potentially protect trans people, no matter how seemingly inconsequential. In other words, death by a thousand cuts. The goal is to adjust our political and legal systems such that they operate as if a) trans people do not exist, b) trans people are not to be taken seriously, c) trans people are a threat, or d) all of the above.

This dogged work is not headline grabbing stuff, but then groups like Woman’s Place UK, LGB Alliance and Transgender Trend have had their fill of that. After months or even years of uncritical news coverage, they might have realised fawning journalists can only get them so far. If a campaign’s goal is, in effect, the eradication of a protected class of people, the work itself cannot be all OBEs and Newsnight specials. The architects of anti-gay and anti-abortion campaigns in the US, who UK groups may or may not communicate with online*, could tell them that.

The strategy is very simple: it’s to go after trans and non-binary people in every conceivable way, no matter how obscure. Who cares about the wording of a law that won’t affect most people, or the guidance in the census? But the mistake is to view these things in isolation, to see them as single events rather than an extremely well-funded and well-resourced war on a vulnerable minority that’s being waged not by feminists, but by the Christian Right and right-wing politicians.

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Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

“We need to say it: this is wrong”

In Umberto Eco’s essay about Ur-fascism, he describes 14 signs of fascism or a pre-fascist state. The list includes the cult of tradition, the rejection of modernism and contempt for the weak; it also includes fear of difference and the obsession with a sinister plot orchestrated by the people who are different.

The UK’s government is showing a worrying number of these signs in its demonisation of Black Lives Matter and its Trump-esque “War on Woke”, but anti-trans activism has been there for some years.

Here’s Sarah Ahmed writing in 2015.

Those who are oppressed – who have to struggle to exist often by virtue of being a member of a group – are often judged as the oppressors. We only have to turn the pages of feminist history to know this. When lesbians demanded entry into feminist spaces, we were called a “lavender menace.” We got in the way of the project of making feminism more acceptable. To be rendered unacceptable is often to be treated as the ones with the power (the power to take something away). I recently heard a heterosexual feminist speak of lesbians in feminism in exactly these terms: as wielding all the power. When black women and women of colour spoke of racism in feminism we were heard, we are heard, as angry, mean and spiteful, as hurting white women’s feelings. The angry woman of colour is not only a feminist killjoy she is often a killer of feminist joy. She gets in the way of how white women occupy feminism.

The current media narrative is one of silencing. People with extraordinary power – politicians, millionaire authors, celebrities – claim to be silenced by a sinister trans lobby, a lobby so powerful that it controls the government, the judiciary and the media despite there being no trans MPs, newspaper editors, newsreaders or judges.

The people who claim to be silenced make their claims loudly, repeatedly and in some cases lucratively as they go on programme after programme or write article after article about how you’re not allowed to share the views they constantly share. As I’ve written before, the sinister trans lobby is paying quite a few anti-trans writers’ mortgages right now.

Ahmed:

Whenever people keep being given a platform to say they have no platform, or whenever people speak endlessly about being silenced, you not only have a performative contradiction; you are witnessing a mechanism of power.

Inevitably, many of our supposed free speech warriors are highly litigious. In recent months multiple authors and a politician have threatened people with defamation suits for daring to suggest that loudly expressing anti-trans views and supporting anti-trans hate groups might possibly be transphobic. And those are just the ones we’ve heard about: most SLAPP threats (strategic lawsuits against public participation) require a vow of silence.

Ahmed:

These dynamics are familiar to me from my work on racist speech acts (racism is so often defended as freedom of speech). Racists present themselves as injured/ under attack/a minority fighting against a powerful anti-racist lobby that is “busy” suppressing their voices.

For some people the demonisation of the “woke” is a grift, an opportunity to build a media brand on the backs of vulnerable people; for others it’s misdirection, a way to distract attention from things like the UK having the highest per-capita COVID deaths in the world. And for others it’s part of a wider ideology of right-wing populism.

Free speech has thus become a political technology that is used to redefine freedom around the right of some to occupy time and space. It is “the others” who become the oppressors; those who in speaking of a wrong are judged as speaking wrong.

We need to say it: this is wrong.

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Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

Regulatory capture

OpenDemocracy:

British government proposals for strengthening free speech at universities cite an American anti-LGBT ‘hate group’ and a British ‘dark money’-funded think tank that has recommended no-platforming Extinction Rebellion.

The hate group is the Alliance Defending Freedom, which you may remember from its campaign against Scotland’s hate speech laws, or its witnesses in the case that banned puberty blockers for trans teenagers.

The ADF is viciously anti-LGBT+, as its its fellow Christian Right organisation the Heritage Foundation. That has its hooks in the UK government too: in the same month equalities minister Liz Truss decided to ignore public support for GRA reform, she was a guest speaker at a Heritage-funded event. Both groups have pretty obvious links to the highest profile anti-trans groups here too, and are often deeply involved in the legal cases aimed at removing trans people’s healthcare and human rights.

ADF International has spent more than £410,000 on lobbying in the UK since 2017. Last year, openDemocracy revealed that its US parent organisation has spent more than $21m of dark money outside of the US since 2008. The group does not disclose who its donors are, and has gone to the US Supreme Court to defend donor secrecy.

ADF International’s UK office has publicly opposed protest-free ‘buffer zones’ around abortion clinics, supported calls for “freedom of conscience” provisions to enable medical staff to independently object to providing legal abortion services and were linked to a supposedly ‘grassroots’ campaign opposing assisted dying.

…ADF supports a ‘legal army’ that fights hundreds of court battles around the world, often using freedom of expression and religious freedom arguments.

The organisation has also taken legal action to support opponents of same-sex marriage and a Canadian pastor accused of hate speech for criticising “the promotion of homosexuality”.

The US group has also become increasingly involved in funding disputes in UK universities. In 2019, it threatened legal action against a Scottish student union council after it decided not to recognise an anti-abortion student group.

This money is perverting our politics in an attempt to take human rights backwards.

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Hell in a handcart

“You can’t say anything these days”

This piece by Omar Khan was written a year ago and is even more timely now.

The political right is angry, empowered around the world by electoral gains and successful campaigns. In many ways this is still the establishment, the people who hold the power, regardless of their attempts to pose as ‘populist’ voices. But at the same time they feel under threat from a world where the parameters of acceptable behaviour have gradually shifted. When you have been used to dominance, equality feels like oppression, and when you have been used to pushing other people around with no regard for their feelings, any limits on your own behaviour feels like an assault on your rights.

…Not everybody writes a book; not everybody has the cultural or social capital to do so, or to get their book published, or publicised. If everyone has the theoretical right to freedom of speech, not everybody has the actual ability to be heard. And it is a truism that the people complaining that their freedom of speech has been attacked or denied are often the ones with the loudest voices and biggest platforms.

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Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

“A stark rise in abuse and hate speech against LGBTI people”

ILGA-Europe is an umbrella organisation for multiple human rights organisations across Europe, and its annual review is deeply worrying. The full report is linked in the quoted text below.

Reporting from every country in the ILGA-Europe ‘Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of LGBTI People in Europe and Central Asia 2021’ is a glaring clarification that progress which has been taken for granted is not only increasingly fragile, but particularly vulnerable to exploitation by anti-human rights forces.

According to Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe: “Our Annual Review shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted all of the gaps in terms of lived realities of LGBTI people across Europe and Central Asia. In reports from country after country, we see a stark rise in abuse and hate speech against LGBTI people; many of whom became vulnerable to homelessness have been forced to move back into hostile family and community situations. LGBTI organisations have had to skew their work towards provision of basic necessities like food and shelter as many governments left LGBTI people out of their relief packages; and there has been a resurgence of authorities and officials using LGBT people as scapegoats while authoritarian regimes are empowered to isolate and legislate without due process.”

ILGA-Europe isn’t just talking about the obvious places such as Poland. It’s scathing about the UK too, with both the Westminster and Holyrood governments’ handling of gender recognition consultations and much of the media coming in for particular criticism.