Categories
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
Health LGBTQ+

Trans Broken Arm Syndrome

While I’m on the subject of healthcare, this piece by David Oliver for USA Today is very good.

Ever broken a bone? You know your first thought: “Ouch!”

But what if said health care worker was too busy asking about your gender identity instead of focusing on mending your broken bone? Sure, it’s important to record and review medical history, but why would questions about hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery be relevant in that case?

The entire UK healthcare system for trans people is based on this.

If you’re a cisgender woman who thinks she needs hormone therapy, the steps are:

  • Go to your GP
  • Get a prescription
  • Get monitored by your GP

If you’re trans:

  • Go to your GP (if you’re in Scotland you can skip this step)
  • Get referred to the gender clinic
  • Wait two to five years depending on where you live
  • Undergo multiple assessments to prove you’re not insane
  • Get your prescription approved
  • Wait four months for it to get typed up
  • Get monitored by the gender clinic for two years

Same medicine, same monitoring. But the turnaround for a cisgender woman is a couple of days; for a trans woman, many years.

Categories
Health LGBTQ+

Screening saves lives

Inclusive language is a favourite topic of right-wingers and bigoted authors: look at what the silly minorities are demanding now! But the reality is that inclusivity can really be a life or death matter.

Writing in the i Paper, Patrick Strudwick talks to deputy House of Lords Speaker Ian Duncan about the death of his brother Sean, a trans man, from ovarian cancer. Duncan is part of a campaign to encourage trans and non-binary people to get screening, and for the system to be more inclusive so trans and non-binary people are not overlooked.

As Strudwick writes:

trans men are automatically removed from GP surgeries’ lists of patients needing smear tests when they register as male, regardless of the extent of their medical transition. Overall, transitioning can reduce the risk of some cancers and increase the risk of others, which in turn can escape detection because no one is looking for them.

The same thing happens with trans women: I get invitations for cervical cancer screening but I won’t for prostate cancer screening; I don’t have a cervix but I do have a prostate.

Anti-trans activists are blaming us for this, claiming that if we didn’t change our gender markers that wouldn’t be a problem. As ever, this is coming from a place of profound ignorance about trans people’s bodies and healthcare. If we don’t change our NHS gender markers then that throws the system into disarray too: our blood tests are returned as abnormal (this happened to me several times) and we are not invited to screenings for things that do affect us, such as breast cancer screening for trans women.

There’s another important issue around this, which is the often appalling way trans and non-binary people are treated by healthcare providers. I know a few trans men who’ve been utterly humiliated by ignorant or openly transphobic healthcare workers, and that humiliation has very understandably made them wary and even avoidant of the NHS.

Screening saves lives, so this is an area where exclusion can kill people. And so can transphobic healthcare providers.

In 2012, former emergency worker Jay Kallio’s doctor didn’t tell him he had breast cancer: he found out by accident when a lab tech asked him how he was coping. As ABC News reported:

Having to find new doctors delayed the start of chemotherapy beyond the so-called “therapeutic window” for his particularly aggressive form of breast cancer.

Kallio was fortunate: despite the late start the treatment was effective. But other people haven’t been so lucky. One of the most horrific things I’ve ever read is the story of Robert Eads, an American trans man who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1996. More than a dozen doctors refused to treat him, fearing damage to their reputation if they were known to have treated a trans person. By the time Eads found a doctor willing to treat him, the cancer had already metastasized to other parts of his body. Despite very aggressive treatment, he died in 1999 aged 53.

I read somewhere that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who think there is too much suffering, and those who think there isn’t enough. The people railing against inclusive language and inclusive services are in the second camp.

Categories
LGBTQ+

“It’s about slammed doors”

The terrible people at ADF, who are behind much of the anti-trans and anti-LGBT+ organising on both sides of the Atlantic, have lost their latest legal case. Their lawyer represented Lorie Smith, a cake designer who refused to make cakes for same-sex couples.

Smith had never actually been asked by a same-sex couple to make a cake. She – or rather, her puppeteers – sued the state preemptively. The move was part of the Christian Right’s ongoing campaign to remove legal protections for LGBT+ people, a war against minorities they’re waging not just in the US but in the UK, in Europe and in Africa.

I thought these remarks, by Lambda Legal’s Jennifer C Pizer, were very true.

This really isn’t about cake or websites or flowers. It’s about protecting LGBTQ people and their families from being subjected to slammed doors, service refusals and public humiliation in countless places — from fertility clinics to funeral homes and everywhere in between.

Categories
LGBTQ+

Speak Up For Soccer

This Twitter thread made me laugh.

Starting my new lobby group, Speak Up For Soccer. Our stated campaigns are to ban kids playing rugby, ban rugby clubs and coaching for teens, and ban adults from playing rugby. We’re not anti-rugby, we’re a pro-soccer rights group.

Categories
LGBTQ+

It’s a mystery

Here are the latest hate crime figures for England and Wales, via the Home Office.

What could have caused a 200% increase in anti-trans hate crimes during a period of sustained attacks on and scaremongering about trans people in the UK press (and by UK politicians), an assault that began in 2016? We may never know.

Categories
Bullshit LGBTQ+ Media

Staged to invoke rage

This report by the Los Angeles Blade should – but probably won’t – make UK anti-trans activists think about what they’re doing and who their friends are. It’s an investigation into the alleged sauna incident I wrote about the other day, which was used by neo-Nazis as an excuse to crack heads and stab people.

There is increasing doubt among law enforcement and staff at the Wi Spa whether there was ever was a transgender person there to begin with. Anonymous sources within the LAPD tell the Blade they have been unable to find any corroborating evidence that there was a transgender person present on that day.

…Treatment at the Spa is by appointment only, and most of its transgender clients are well known to the staff.

…[the video creator’s] Instagram account is almost exclusively Christian memes, which begs the question why she chose to go to a high-end spa well known for being LGBTQ friendly. During Cubaangel’s video, no transgender person can be seen, and no other witnesses have come forward to confirm the allegations made. It’s also not the first time Wi Spa has been targeted for catering to transgender people.

It seems increasingly likely that the supposed event didn’t happen at all, or that it was staged by an anti-trans activist.

The video quickly made the rounds in far right, and Trans-Exclusionary Feminist (TERF) sites. Anti-trans “feminist” websites like Mumsnet, Ovarit, and Spinster were sharing content by far right provocateurs known for disinformation, like Ian Miles Cheong, by June 27th.

The anti-trans protest was a mix of religious fundamentalist street preachers, QAnon conspiracy theorists chanting “save our children,” and Proud Boys… Right wing personality Andy Ngo, who coordinates with far right groups when they’re looking to engage in violence on camera, was also there.

Andy Ngo’s content was the content shared by UK activists and at least one high profile Guardian writer.

All of this fits into an emerging pattern of the alt-right, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists, violent far right groups like the Proud Boys, the religious right, and anti-trans “feminists” collaborating and coordinating

We’ve been trying to warn people about this for years, but how do you get the media to cover it when their friends and colleagues are the people doing it?

Update: surprise surprise, the US religious right have their fingerprints all over this.

The people behind this escalating campaign, then, are known disinformation purveyors allied with open white supremacists who — as they have done for several years now — created optics-heavy, broadcast news-friendly chaos in order to push a specific agenda.

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”.

Categories
Bullshit Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

Careless Wispa

Over the weekend, Allison Bailey from the so-called LGB Alliance proved how divorced anti-trans activists are from the reality-based community. On discovering a Wispa bar and a lemon in her garden, she immediately came to the obvious conclusion: trans activists were trying to kill her dog.

Nobody, least of all trans activists, was trying to kill her dog.

The chocolate and lemon had been thrown there accidentally by the kids next door, who came round to apologise.

It’s funny in a bleak “this clown is taken seriously by the UK press and the BBC” kind of way. But it also demonstrates the lunacy and paranoia of the anti-trans movement. Bailey’s ridiculous claim will become another anti-trans “fact” trotted out on social media and probably mainstream media too for years to come.

Categories
LGBTQ+

Three things for today

Please take a few minutes to watch this short speech by MP Mhairi Black.

It’s a superb summary of the current moral panic and the people fuelling it, and it ends with this message to the trans community:

This is an ugly and shameful time for all of us, but that shame is not yours to feel or yours to carry. In the same way that we teach young people about gay history now and they are horrified when they hear of our past treatment, so too will future children be when they find out how trans people were treated today. This will pass, and in the meantime know that there are allies everywhere that are with you and are fighting for you publicly and behind the scenes. As our community is so often having to tell people, we are going absolutely nowhere.

This speech by Stewart McDonald MP, also to mark Pride, nails “the polite bigotry of the middle classes”.

And this article in USA Today shows how the current campaign against trans kids in sports is built on lies.