Bullshit LGBTQ+ Media

Murdoch papers in “bullshit” shocker

I don’t want to go on too much about the UK government’s pathetic response to its gender recognition consultation, but I thought it was worth drawing attention to The Times and Sunday Times’ assertions that the consultation was “skewed” by an “avalanche” of responses by “trans rights groups” who twisted the consultation to say 70% of people were in favour of self-ID.

Here’s a blog by the GRA consultation analysis team.

We spent a long time with the data and employed a number of advanced analytical techniques to investigate the influence of potential campaigns on the consultation responses. However, we have seen little evidence that supports the view that the results were “skewed” by an “avalanche” of responses from trans rights groups. Furthermore, we are not sure where the reported figure of 70% in favour of self-identification has come from. This question was not directly asked in the consultation and this figure does not arise from our analysis.

What they did find, however, was that one anti-trans group was responsible for nearly one-fifth of all responses – and unlike the majority of responses from other sources, particularly trans rights groups, these were identical posts created by a one-click online form “which had a pre-populated set of answers”.

We would like to acknowledge the amount of care, attention and often depth of feeling that went into the submissions that we read, from people and organisations taking a range of positions. There were some long submissions – some over 5000 words –  in response to one individual question, and it was apparent that a large percentage of those who completed the consultation spent a long time writing their answers. We were struck by many of the accounts that people provided detailing their personal experiences or those of loved ones. It is sometimes easy to lose sight, in the arguments that surround GRA reform, that at the centre of this are real people living real and often difficult lives. Due to the need to be brief in order to write a succinct report and the confidentiality required for ethical reasons, the specific stories that were contained within many individual submissions cannot be published. However, reading them, as we have been able to as a team, paints a nuanced and complex picture of the lived experience of people working through these issues in their own lives and the lives of their loved ones.

LGBTQ+ Media

Gender Trouble trouble

Interviewing isn’t always easy: if you’re poorly prepared or if you’re trying to lead the subject down a road they don’t want to go down, you can easily find yourself getting your arse handed to you on a plate. It happened to me once with Terry Pratchett, a brilliant author who taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of preparation for even the most trivial interview.

That was mortifying enough, so imagine how it must feel to be publicly owned by an interviewee when you’re interviewing a major figure for a popular current affairs magazine. That appears to be the case in this New Statesman interview with Judith Butler, in which the interviewer attempts to tell Butler what her own work is about. It’s the kind of interview that, as a writer, you read from behind your fingers.

It’s also really interesting in what it says about coverage of gender:  Butler is a key figure in third wave feminism and her 1990 book Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity is considered a key text in feminist and queer scholarship. She has a lot of interesting things to say and a body of work going back very many years, but the interviewer seems determined to force her into the JK Rowling vs Evil Trans Activists dialogue so beloved of so much of the UK and US press right now. And Butler is having none of it.


Let us be clear that the debate here is not between feminists and trans activists… So one clear problem is the framing that acts as if the debate is between feminists and trans people. It is not.

…It is a sad day when some feminists promote the anti-gender ideology position of the most reactionary forces in our society.

Interviewer: But people have been nasty to JK Rowling on the internet!


I confess to being perplexed by the fact that you point out the abuse levelled against JK Rowling, but you do not cite the abuse against trans people and their allies that happens online and in person.

I disagree with JK Rowling’s view on trans people, but I do not think she should suffer harassment and threats. Let us also remember, though, the threats against trans people in places like Brazil, the harassment of trans people in the streets and on the job in places like Poland and Romania – or indeed right here in the US.

So if we are going to object to harassment and threats, as we surely should, we should also make sure we have a large picture of where that is happening, who is most profoundly affected, and whether it is tolerated by those who should be opposing it. It won’t do to say that threats against some people are tolerable but against others are intolerable.

As Max Morgan put it on Twitter:

If I was this interviewer I would have told my editor that the dog ate the emails and they’d have to run something else.

Bullshit LGBTQ+

Ding dong, GRA reform in England is dead

The Westminster government has finally published its response to the public consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act. The short version: it’s going to be slightly cheaper to get a GRC and some of the forms will go online. There are no significant changes otherwise.

This is for England and Wales; officially at least GRA reform is still possible in Scotland, so there will be no let-up in the hate campaigns against trans people. I suspect things will get even worse as they attempt to pressure the Scottish Government to follow the English example.

It’s interesting to note that despite the supposed “swamping” of the consultation by trans “activists”, just 7,000 of the 102,800 responses – responses that were overwhelmingly in favour of reform by a much bigger margin than, say, the Brexit vote – were from trans people. Nearly 19,000 responses were one-click template-based submissions from a single anti-trans group. As ever, the discussion was primarily about us, without us.

As you’d expect from a Government minister, there are some dodgy claims in Liz Truss’s statement.

We have also come to understand that gender recognition reform, though supported in the consultation undertaken by the last government, is not the top priority for transgender people.

Just because the government treats trans people even more hellishly in other parts of the system doesn’t mean legal gender recognition doesn’t need reformed.

Thirty-eight per cent told us the process was too bureaucratic. So we will place the whole procedure online.

Being able to upload deeply personal reports instead of posting them doesn’t make the process any less bureaucratic and it certainly doesn’t make it any less humiliating. The gatekeeping, the requirement to have medical reports and the paperwork you must provide to a faraway panel haven’t changed. Even the BMA says doctors shouldn’t be involved in this process.

Trans people tell us that waiting lists at NHS gender clinics are too long. I agree, and I am deeply concerned at the distress it can cause. That is why we are opening at least three new gender clinics this year, which should see waiting lists cut by around 1,600 patients by 2022.

This is nothing to do with the GRA consultation and Truss is claiming credit for decisions made by NHS England several years ago.

It’s a sad state of affairs when “we’ll make the process slightly cheaper” counts as a victory. But ultimately nothing has changed but the price tag. There’s no change to the Equality Act or its guidance, and the role of a GRC has not been changed (it’s still irrelevant to what spaces we can access or where we can urinate). It’s not going to be any easier to get a GRC than it has been for the last sixteen years, so all of the antis’ “reasonable concerns” have been addressed. They can finally pack up and go home. Right?

Maybe I’m cynical. Maybe now that the UK government has decided not to change anything, the groups created solely to fight against GRA reform will close their campaigns, disband their organisations and take the hundreds of thousands of pounds they’ve crowdfunded from dodgy donors and give that cash to organisations that help vulnerable women.


Or maybe, just maybe, GRA reform was only ever a fig leaf for their real motives.

LGBTQ+ Media

“Do they really believe this garbage?”

Journalist Jane Fae writes on Medium about the bogeymen and women the press likes to call “activists”.

Just last week, for instance, Gillian Phillip kicked off in the Mail about the “violent, hate-filled language that has become chillingly familiar to anyone who has had the temerity to question the prevailing orthodoxy of the transgender activist brigade”. Meanwhile, over in the Times, James Kirkup contributed a piece that totally lived up to its headline: “Trans activists hate Rowling because she’s a woman”.

Catherine Bennet was at it in the Observer this weekend too, arguing that anybody who criticised JK Rowling – a hugely significant cultural figure whose views are taken very seriously by very many people, and whose books were very important to many trans people  – but not the aforementioned Kirkup – an insignificant arse who’s made a career of having bad opinions for money – is a woman-hating misogynist.

There’s no middle ground in any of this coverage. Any trans person with the slightest opinion on anything is portrayed as ISIS in makeup. Trans people aren’t allowed to talk about the vicious abuse they get simply for being trans, usually in the wake of yet another anti-trans blog post or column. Trans people as vulnerable? As victims? As too scared to leave the house because they’re expecting to see the transphobia from the papers reflected in other people’s eyes? That doesn’t fit the narrative. All trans people are violent, hate-filled activists. Never people.

It’s the oldest trick in the book: portray the other as a monolithic bloc where the opinion or actions of the very worst extremes are presented as the opinions and actions of all. It’s known by many names, but the one I think suits it best is the Klan Fallacy: because one black person committed a crime, all black people are criminals and it’s okay to be a racist piece of shit.

Why do they print this stuff? For starters, it allows commentators to put the boot into minorities without appearing to do so. Who us? Having a go at trans people? Or black people? Or any other sort of people? Nah. We’re just calling out the bad ones.

The definition is infinitely flexible.

If you want to demonise a whole group of people, you can absolutely go on Twitter and find some hothead. That hothead might not even be trans – the person behind the supposed bomb threat from trans activists, a story Fae writes about in the article, was a right-wing cisgender teenage gamer from the US trying to stir some shit against trans people – but that doesn’t matter. The columnist’s feelings don’t leave any room for facts.

Trans activists: the “trans lobby”, cabal, ideology; these all furnish a target and an enemy to fight against. Much easier than owning to the fact that your own position is itself fundamentally ideological — often evangelical Christian, occasionally a reductive and back-to-the-stone-age feminism. Sexier, too than admitting that your primary goal is to resist minority demands for basic civil rights.


Salt water

I know it’s hard for people who aren’t trans to understand what gender dysphoria is like. I thought this analogy, by Dr Emmy Zje, is pretty good.

Imagine that you’re sitting with a bunch of people and you’re all drinking water. Their water is spring water, but yours is salt water – and you don’t know this, so you don’t understand how they can drink their water so easily when yours makes you want to choke. So you try to do what they do, and you drink, and you drink, and you keep drinking until you nearly die from dehydration.

As another Twitter user, Rachel de Spoons, points out, the analogy works particularly well because different people experience different levels of dysphoria. As she writes: “everyone has different concentrations of salt. Some can’t manage a sip and for others it’s just tainted enough that they last decades.”

The original tweet has gone viral, so Emmy has asked people who like it to consider donating to #transcrowdfund to help a trans person achieve their transition goals.



Sophie Labelle’s Assigned Male comic hits the nail on the head once again.

Comic strip showing someone claiming that they're being silenced

Health LGBTQ+

Doctors say trans rights

The BMA’s annual conference has called on the government to protect the rights of trans and non-binary people both in healthcare and in wider society.

Dr Helena McKeown, Chair of the BMA representative body, said:

The BMA supports transgender and nonbinary individuals’ equal rights to live their lives with dignity which includes the right to equal access to healthcare. We oppose discrimination of all kinds and are committed to ensuring universal access to healthcare for all on the basis of clinical need.

While the BMA has numerous policies affirming our support of LGBT individuals, [The agreement to this new policy means] that, for the first time in our history, we now have a BMA-wide policy giving specific attention to the needs of transgender and nonbinary individuals. Receiving any medical treatment can be stressful for patients and so it is important for individuals to receive healthcare in settings they feel comfortable with. This applies to transgender as well as cis individuals.

The BMA hasn’t, however, clarified whether trans women have pelvises.


A little bit of good news

Sarah McBride

The world’s on fire, everything is awful and it’s not a great time to be LGBT+, so it’s important to celebrate the little pieces of good news among the relentless misery of 2020. The luminous Sarah McBride won the Democratic nomination for a Delaware seat last night, which means she’s on track to be America’s highest-ranking openly trans elected official.

McBride is only 30 but she has already had to deal with a great deal of shit in her life. She lost her husband to cancer, she’s had to deal with all the crap a trans woman with a public profile has to endure, and she was even targeted by UK anti-trans bigots who flew to the US courtesy of the Heritage Foundation and verbally abused her in her office. And despite this she remains incredibly strong, incredibly dignified and – amazingly – full of faith in humanity.

Her book, Tomorrow Will Be Different, is really good and very sad. You can find out more about her on her website.

As Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, commented:

Sarah’s primary win shatters another lavender ceiling in our movement to build LGBTQ political power, and her victory will inspire more transgender people to run for elected office. At a time when the Trump administration, cynical politicians and too many state legislatures are attempting to use trans people as political weapons, Sarah’s win is a powerful reminder that voters are increasingly rejecting the politics of bigotry in favor of candidates who stand for equality.

Representation matters. Not just politically, but visually. Somewhere there’s a trans kid seeing Sarah on TV and thinking, I want to be just like her.

LGBTQ+ Media


Vogue contributor and trans woman Paris Lees posted something online yesterday that sounded too crazy to be true:

More Americans claim to have seen a ghost than to have met a transgender person.

But it is true. Huffington Post points out that a 2009 Pew Research Center survey found that 18% of Americans claim to have seen a ghost; a 2015 GLAAD study found that only 16% of Americans say they know someone who’s trans. I’ve looked at a number of more recent surveys and across the entire population the numbers for the latter question are consistently between 11% and 20%.

It’s interesting to look at lots of these surveys because a clear pattern emerges: younger people are much more likely to know someone who’s openly trans or non-binary, while older, more conservative people are more likely to think they’ve seen a ghost.

Among Fox News viewers, the number of people who say they’ve personally seen a ghost is a whopping 60%. And of course, you’re much more likely to be personally visited by a spirit from the other side than see a positive portrayal of trans people on Fox News.

Health LGBTQ+

What gender doctors don’t tell you

I posted yesterday about my experience of being on decapeptyl, which stops my body making testosterone. I get an injection every 12 weeks, and without fail the final week is horrible: I feel stupid, sluggish and sad.

By coincidence, a trans person I know was talking online about decapeptyl and the massive mental dip they get in the week or so before a top-up. When I replied along the lines of “oh my god! Me too!”, another trans woman I know said she gets it too. It turns out that between us, everybody we know about who’s taking decapeptyl feels like absolute crap for the week or so before their levels are topped up, and considerably worse if they don’t get their top-up at the 12-week mark.

I’ve written before that there’s an incredible lack of research into trans-related healthcare, and this is a good example: it seems that there’s something going on here, but there’s no indication of what it might be. Online there’s some evidence of decapeptyl having negative effects for cisgender men (who take it for prostate cancer) and cisgender women (who take it for endometriosis) including severe mood swings and depression, but I can’t find anything relating to what I and other trans people are experiencing. Could decapeptyl have interactions with the other medications we take? I can’t find an answer to that.

I got my 12-week injection today, a week late. I’ll feel better very soon. But I don’t know why.