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Health Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

Everything is awful

Trans Actual has published the results of its 2021 Trans Lives survey, in which around 700 UK trans adults shared their experiences. The results aren’t surprising but they are saddening.

  • 27% of trans people have been homelessness at some point in their lives. That rises to 36% for both trans BPOC and trans disabled people;

  • A staggering 98% of trans people responding do not think that NHS transition related care is completely adequate

There are significant issues with primary care, too:

    • 45% of trans respondents said that their GP did not have a good understanding of their needs as a trans person, with 55% of non-binary people reporting similar issues.

    • 87% of those answering, overall said that this had impacted them to some extent. This rises, again, to 95% and 92% for BPOC and disabled individuals;

    • Issues with healthcare providers may also have serious consequences, in a time when illnesses such as COVID-19 illustrate graphically how individual decisions, when faced with a highly transmissible virus, can affect the rest of the population, as 57% of trans people reported that they avoided going to the GP when unwell – again, because of lack of understanding and more general discrimination;

    • Even more concerning, 14% of respondents (one in 7) reported that their GP had  refused to provide care or treatment on account of their trans status at least once.

As Jane Fae, journalist and TransActual director, rightly says:

The real scandal here is how comprehensively the media have conspired to ignore this situation, preferring, instead, to produce tens of thousands of words on the largely imagined consequences of reform to the Gender Recognition Act.

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Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

It’s time to abolish gender clinics

The image above is a graph showing the Tavistock London Adult Gender Identity Clinic’s performance since 2017. In the last four years its finding has increased from just under £4m to just under £6m while the number of people being referred to the service has fallen. And yet the number of people being seen by the clinic is getting smaller and smaller, sending the waiting list into orbit.

At current rates, if you join the waiting list today you will have to wait 31 years for your first appointment. That’s not a typo. If you join the waiting list aged 18, you will be 49 before you get your initial appointment.

Other gender clinics aren’t quite as bad, but they’re still bad. NHS referrals should take no more than 18 weeks; for trans people, 3-4 years is considered quick. Once again the reality is very different from what the newspapers are telling you.

As I’ve written before, there is no reason why trans healthcare should be separate from cisgender people’s healthcare or why trans people should wait 31 years for something they could discuss with their GP tomorrow.

There is no difference between the Estradot patches cisgender women are given by my GP and the Estradot patches I have. But while my GP prescribes them for the former group, my prescription is overseen by the gender clinic.

In the four years I’ve been under the supervision of that clinic I’ve never met an endocrinologist, a doctor specialising in hormones; my prescriptions have always been written by psychologists. Which perhaps explains why one of them made a massive mistake in one of mine, a mistake that would have had awful consequences if I hadn’t spotted it.

This is just gatekeeping. There’s nothing wrong with me psychologically; being trans isn’t a mental illness. And yet medicine and referrals that my GP is perfectly qualified to deliver for cis people are somehow transformed into mysterious unknowable magic because I’m trans. Other countries don’t do things this way because it’s completely nonsensical: it’s based on a system where you’re considered a fraud until you convince enough people otherwise.

This is the reality of trans healthcare in the UK. While health secretary Savid Javid plays the transphobia card for cheap political points, trans healthcare under the NHS is scandalously unfit for purpose and causing needless misery for far too many people.

 

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Books Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+ Media

Two brilliant books

Here are two books you should buy.

The Transgender Issue, by Shon Faye

This is a book I’d very much like to have written, because it’s a clear-eyed, well researched and well argued response to the evidence-free scaremongering and barely laundered antisemitism of cisgender authors who claim to know more about trans people than trans people do. It details the links between UK anti-trans feminism and the US Christian Right, the appalling history of trans rights in the UK, the reasons why the UK’s particularly white anti-trans feminism is viewed with horror by other countries’ more evolved and inclusive feminism groups, and much more. If you’d like to know the truth about trans people in the UK, you should buy this book. And if you happen to know a newspaper editor or radio producer, you should buy it for them.

Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers, by Sady Doyle

This is sad and shocking, fierce and funny and utterly exhilarating. Doyle uses everything from Ancient Greek philosophy to ironic slasher movies to analyse the stories our culture tells about women, and the narratives women are expected to conform to. It’s the kind of book that makes you gasp with horror on one page and giggle on the next, and I had to restrain myself from sending endless quotes from it to my friends. Here’s a bit from the intro:

Women have always been monsters.

Female monstrosity is threaded throughout every myth you’ve heard, and some you haven’t: carnivorous mermaids, Furies tearing men apart with razor-sharp claws, leanan sídhe enchanting mortal men and draining the souls from their bodies. They are lethally beautiful or unbearably ugly, sickly sweet and treacherous or filled with animal rage, but they always speak to the qualities men find most threatening in women: beauty, intelligence, anger, ambition.

Categories
Hell in a handcart

“Violent enforcers” of a manufactured culture war

This Daily Kos piece on the Proud Boys, the neo-nazi thugs who’ve allied themselves with anti-trans groups, is terrifying: When Proud Boys show up at local school protests, they’re following a larger far-right blueprint.

The Pacific Northwest’s gang of Proud Boys was very active over the past weekend. In addition to ginning up violence at an anti-masking rally in Olympia, Washington, on Saturday, the same group of right-wing thugs forced the lockdown of three schools in Vancouver, two hours south, the day before, when one of them forced his way into a high school as part of an anti-vaccination protest.

This is not the first time that the proto-fascist street brawlers have inserted themselves into local school board controversies, nor will it be the last. That’s because the nation’s local school boards have become the primary target of a nationwide far-right campaign to overwhelm such political entities with anti-vaccination/masking agitation, along with attacks over “critical race theory,” and those explicit takeover strategies happen to mesh neatly with the Proud Boys’ emerging tactic of attaching themselves to local right-wing political events.

…”They’ve been piggybacking on other people’s events,” Jared Holt, a fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, told USA Today. “They go where they believe the culture war is being fought, because they see themselves as potentially violent enforcers in a broader culture war.”

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Bullshit Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+ Media

The LGB Alliance isn’t a hate group. It’s much worse than that

A must-read thread on why the LGB Alliance aren’t a hate group: they’re much more sinister than that.

Well, that’s an oversimplification. They most certain are a hate group, and act the same as any other anti-LGBT hate group, but more than that, they’re something more sinister: They are controlled opposition. And that’s considerably worse.

…They’re not just a hate group; they’re masquerading as a legitimate LGB rights organisation, seeking to undermine the existing charity that fights for LGBT rights, and replace them, while being nothing but an arm of the religious right.

…Imagine for a second they hadn’t faced such public scrutiny and pushback and got their way? The UK would have an “LGB rights charity” that opposes anti-bullying, opposes hate crime legislation, thinks gay teachers are predators and that school LGBT groups are harmful

This is all well documented and easy to find. Media outlets that continue to platform them or present them as a legitimate organisation are either incompetent or malevolent.

Categories
Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

“Love is as varied as people”

Talia Lavin is one of the best writers on white supremacy and online/offline radicalisation, and this piece is very good: Why Transphobia Is at the Heart of the White Power Movement.

gender nonconformity threatens a worldview that is fixated on immutable, straitened, and antiquated gender roles. In this violent milieu, white women are designated as walking wombs, meant to replenish the purportedly declining birthrates of the white race, and little else. (Nonwhite women are portrayed as threats and grotesques, objects of violent misogyny.) Chastity, submission, and silence are their desired qualities in women.

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Bullshit Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

Brain worms

Here’s a perfectly sane and normal response to Nicola Sturgeon’s post about the terrible events in Afghanistan.

There are many more like it, as the anti-trans crowd hail the Taliban because they are apparently Gender Critical.

These people have lost their minds.

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Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+ Media

A war on children

This, by Melissa Gira Grant, is horrific: Behind the GOP Strategy to Outlaw Trans Youth. It’s about the families affected by the Christian Right’s war on trans people, particularly trans teens.

As ever, US Republicans are more extreme than our home-grown bigots but there are still strong parallels between what’s happening in the US and what some people want to happen here.

Republicans across the United States have seized on trans people as a social and political scapegoat, reprising a strategy used to great effect in Texas late in the Obama administration. This strategy bears some surface resemblance to Republican attacks on marriage equality the decade before, when the GOP succeeded in getting voters to back dozens of ballot initiatives limiting marriage to one man and one woman, while also securing votes for Republicans (though it’s unclear whether it was as decisive a factor as many contemporary commentators claimed). But the fight for marriage equality started in the lesbian and gay rights movement. There is at present no analogous fight for trans rights backed with anything resembling the same level of legal, philanthropic, or political muscle. Indeed, in the conflict over marriage equality, trans rights were pushed to the political margins, a dynamic that set the stage for the current war on trans people.

That’s an important point. This isn’t a backlash against trans people’s demands; this is an attack on trans people just for existing. For example here in the UK, the “reasonable concerns” mob have been scaremongering about legal rights that trans people already have, and have had for many years.

As HB 1399 was before the state House health committee, the state Senate took up SB 1646, a bill that would allow parents of trans kids to be charged with child abuse. Supporters of bills like these typically advanced a very pointed narrative: that a powerful, shadowy “trans lobby,” in concert with the media and Big Pharma, was colluding to sexually exploit—even “mutilate”—children by forcibly “transing” them.

UK newspapers and some BBC programmes advance exactly the same arguments using exactly the same language. And like the UK, some of the most anti-trans voices pushed forward by the religious right are those of “ordinary mothers” who just have “reasonable concerns”.

Moms have been at the forefront of ADF’s legal battles to exclude trans girls from girls’ sports—another effort that fueled this wave of anti-trans bills. These moms are part of a long history of white women who saw it as their moral duty to the American nation to speak out as mothers—white moms fought against school integration and for warning labels on music.

The article quotes Remington Johnson, a trans woman:

It was “wickedness,” Remington said. Wickedness was what she called the bad-faith maneuvering of Dutton, of all of them. Only wickedness could describe the idea that these bills were necessary in order to protect children, when the truth was that children were harmed even by the attempt to pass them. But for those who had an evangelical mindset, she said, that was the point: “Protecting” children meant making it impossible for them to be trans and survive.

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Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+ Media

Anti-trans terrorism

The US edition of The Guardian continues to embarrass its UK sibling with its coverage of anti-trans violence; most recently, its coverage of a stochastic terrorism event in the US.

If you’re not familiar with the term, stochastic terrorism is when you incite violence indirectly: you’re not saying that someone should go out and attack the Jews/Roma/Blacks/Queers/Trans; you’re just saying that these sick fucks are coming for your kids and family and country and maybe they need to be taught a lesson. When blood is inevitably spilled, your hands remain snowy white.

One of the best known examples of stochastic terrorism is the witch trials in Europe and America, where women were accused of witchcraft – often by other women. More recently we have “white women’s tears”, a term used to describe when a white woman weaponises their whiteness and womanhood against somebody who is Black.

Here’s Julia Carrie Wong on the “Central Park Karen” story in The Guardian (inevitably the US Guardian, not the UK one):

Amy Cooper’s Karen status was cemented when she called the police on Christian Cooper, a 57-year-old Black birdwatcher, after he had asked her to leash her dog in New York City’s Central Park. Not content with falsely alleging, twice, that “an African American man” was “threatening me and my dog”, Cooper put on a play for the 911 operator, changing the register of her voice to one of distress and panic as she cried: “I am being threatenedby a man in the Ramble. Please send the cops immediately.”

It was through that performance that Amy Cooper took on the mantle of an American archetype: the white woman who weaponizes her vulnerability to exact violence upon a Black man. In history, she is Carolyn Bryant, the adult white woman whose complaint about a 14-year-old Emmett Till led to his torture and murder at the hands of racist white adults. In literature, she is Scarlett O’Hara sending her husband out to join a KKK lynching party or Mayella Ewell testifying under oath that a Black man who had helped her had raped her. In 2020, she is simply Karen.

That’s stochastic terrorism: unleashing forces that you know may or will harm somebody on your behalf. And often, those forces are the far right.

Which brings us to LA this summer. Here’s Sam Levin and Lois Beckett for The Guardian US.

On 24 June, a woman claimed on Instagram that a Korean spa in Los Angeles had allowed a “man” to expose himself to women and girls in the women’s section.

There is no evidence that the alleged event ever happened, and lots of evidence to suggest that the woman is an anti-LGBT+ evangelical Christian with an agenda to push.

The unsubstantiated allegations about Wi Spa in LA’s Koreatown neighborhood quickly spread from social media to rightwing forums to far-right news sites to Fox News, and were distorted by anti-transgender groups across multiple countries.

The massive media attention resulted in two weekends of chaotic rallies in LA this month, in which anti-trans and trans-rights protesters fought in the streets, and women carrying “protect female spaces” signs paraded alongside members of the far-right Proud Boys. Trans counter-protesters and their supporters described being Maced, stabbed and chased by rightwing demonstrators, as well as injured by police.

The episode, experts said, offered a case study in how viral misinformation can result in violence, and provided clear evidence of the links between anti-trans and far-right movements, including QAnon conspiracy theorists, who believe that a cabal of elite pedophiles is manipulating the American government.

This is not a purely American conspiracy.

The video was also shared by feminists who advocate against trans-inclusive policies – sometimes referred to as gender critical feminists, or trans-exclusionary radical feminists (Terfs). Moro documented a flurry of posts on Ovarit (a site for users banned from Reddit due to transphobia) and Mumsnet (a platform for UK mothers, which has attracted anti-trans feminists).

Some of the people sharing the video were British journalists, including Guardian contributors.

Wi Spa represented a nightmare scenario of what can happen when far-right groups, rightwing conspiracy theorists and gender-critical feminists are all aligned against trans rights, Serano said: “The idea that anytime people can point out a trans woman was in a women’s space, and suddenly the Proud Boys and QAnon people all come out against it, is very scary.”

It’s also deliberate. Anti-trans groups in the UK have toured rough housing estates to tell men about the supposed trans threat to their daughters; their supporters write books saying the same with bigger words. Allegations of grooming and child abuse are commonplace online, not just against trans women but against the parents of trans and non-binary people. Supposedly serious journalists write of children being “sacrificed”; on social media and in forums, people talk openly about how trans people and allies should be assaulted or even executed. And some anti-trans activists have deliberately courted the far right: chances are if they’ve been banned from Twitter, they’ve appeared on a white supremacist podcast or YouTube channel.

The problem with that is that they are supping with The Devil without having brought a long spoon. Or to mix my metaphors, they have let the fascist genie out of the bottle and he doesn’t want to go back in again.

An anti-trans protest planned for speaker’s corner this weekend in London – a protest partly organised by a prominent anti-trans activist who has openly embraced the far right and urged armed men to threaten trans women – has been cancelled because Tommy Robinson and his racist pals were planning to join them. It seems highly likely that the cancellation wasn’t because the activists didn’t want neo-Nazi support; it’s that they didn’t want to be seen getting neo-Nazi support.

Whether you’re palling around with Nazis or just demonising minorities online or in newspaper columns, you are taking part in stochastic terrorism. Neo-nazis stabbing people are just one example of where that leads. When a young mother is beaten with an iron bar by 13 youths shouting anti-trans slurs; when a teen gets their nose broken for refusing to answer whether they’re a boy or a girl; when a man sets a trans woman’s house on fire after sharing transphobes’ talking points online; that’s stochastic terrorism: violent events deliberately incited by people who know exactly what they’re doing.

They may not get blood on their hands, but they have a stain on their souls.

Categories
Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+ Media

Radicalisation in real time

Trans people and allies have been warning about the links between anti-trans activism and the far right for several years now, and this weekend has delivered a frightening example. The whole story is detailed here, but here’s the executive summary (updated a day later with additional details):

  • An evangelical Christian blogger produced a video claiming that a trans woman had been exposing herself to multiple children and adults in an LGBT+ friendly spa in LA.
  • There is no evidence to substantiate any of her claims.
  • Her video contains no evidence that the event happened.
  • Despite significant publicity, nobody has come forward to corroborate her claims.
  • The spa appears to have been the subject of online anti-LGBT+ activism for the last several months.
  • Far-right goons decided that a local trans woman was the culprit (in an event that does not appear to have happened) and sent her multiple death threats. The woman had not been at the spa.
  • Far-right and neo-Nazi groups spread the video, as did anti-trans activists.
  • Far-right and neo-Nazi groups organised a protest at the spa. Many of them turned up in military-style armour and carried weapons including metal bars, knives and pepper spray. One of the thugs was carrying a baseball bat with the Trump logo on it.
  • Far-right thugs including members of neo-Nazi group the Proud Boys attacked journalists and counter-protestors.
  • Two people were stabbed by one far-right thug, a middle-aged white man dressed in military-style gear. He stabbed a counter-protester multiple times in the leg; that person is now in hospital.
  • The same man accidentally stabbed another far-right protester in the arm. Images of the stabbing have been shared by multiple “gender critical” accounts claiming that the woman was the victim of a trans person or trans ally, not one of her fellow fascists. This is not true.
  • In addition to images of the stabbing, UK anti-trans activists have been sharing doctored footage by notorious far-right figures to try and perpetuate lies that the violence was perpetrated by trans people or allies rather than fascist or fascist-adjacent thugs. Some of the earliest such posts were on Mumsnet; they’re now being spread by UK journalists.

I’m reading a lot about QAnon and other right-wing conspiracies right now, and this has frightening echoes of Pizzagate: the baseless claim that a child sex ring was operating out of a pizza parlour in Washington, a claim that lead a heavily armed man to visit the parlour intent on using violence to free the non-existent victims. Many people still believe that such a ring existed.

As the Trans Safety Network article linked above puts it:

Anti-trans tensions are reaching an incredibly worrying threshold, where instagram videos alleging wrongdoing, without any actual evidence of wrongdoing are enough to conjure right wing lynch mobs. In the wake of the protests, prominent UK anti-trans journalists and organisers have shared information from curated far-right sources… misrepresenting events is a well known tool of radicalisation and recruitment for the far-right. Extremist right wing provocateurs are creating partisan versions and hiding behind gender critical women and talking points to provide cover while they harass and terrorise innocent transgender people.

The people sharing the far-right posts are not far-right activists: they’re liberal journalists who write for papers such as The Guardian. This is how radicalisation happens.

Writing in The Herald, Neil Mackay quotes Dr Joe Mulhall, a leading expert on the far right.

MULHALL notes that the culture war is also radicalising many – often online – and leading them towards far=right politics. “If someone gets tipped one way on the trans issue, for example, you start to see them echoing anti-Black Lives Matter stuff,” says Mulhall. “We see more anti-trans content from within the far right than against any other minority today.”

English Defence League (EDL) figures “disproportionally talk about trans rights way more than Muslims now”.

“There’s a debate to be had,” says Mulhall, about issues like women-only bathrooms although he personally says he’d leave that to “trans people”. “However, at a base level, wherever you fall on those debates, the trans community is being attacked by the far right. Whatever you think about trans athletes in the Olympics, it’s unacceptable trans people are being attacked.”

The far right sees trans hatred as a “route to the mainstream. Talking about Jews isn’t. It ostracises you. But if you talk about trans issues it opens the doors to the mainstream. The far right are saying things they know will be echoed in the comment pages”.