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.


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.

Sometimes I wouldn’t want to be seen dead with me

I’m sure you’re familiar with the idea of makeup as warpaint. It can be a kind of disguise, a metaphorical suit of armour you can hide behind when you’re feeling far from cute or confident.

I use makeup as warpaint quite a lot. If my eyes are smoky, my lips ruby red and my lashes thick with mascara, you can be reasonably sure that I’ve done it to distract from how I really feel. It’s not just the makeup. It’s my entire presentation. If I’m in a baggy top with bits of fried egg on it you know I’m feeling comfortable and confident in myself. If I’ve really dressed up it means that I’ve spent most of the day in a pit of self-loathing, that I’ve forced myself to come out when I don’t feel like it or because I’m scared of going somewhere new, or a combination of those things.

The makeup and the clothes enable me to get into character. The character is still Carrie, but it’s a more confident, more self-assured and a lot less frightened version of me. When I’m feeling scared or sad I can send her out as an advance party until the real Carrie feels safe enough to show up.

Sometimes I send her out because I want other people to see the right version of me.

I spend a lot of time being seen as the wrong version of me. I’m under no illusion that anybody looks at me and thinks “Oh my god! It’s the beautiful and talented actor Emma Stone!”. But I’m aware that a lot of people don’t look at me and see an overweight middle-aged woman either. They see the gender I was assigned at birth, the person I pretended to be, not the person I actually am.

I’m not making that up. It’s pretty obvious quite a lot of the time. It’s there when people stare openly at me on public transport, or talk about me in voices that aren’t quite quiet enough. And it’s there when I’m misgendered, when despite my best efforts I’m coded as male.

So sometimes I want to kick back against that. I’m naturally a jeans and baggy cardigan kind of girl, but sometimes I’ll go what’s called High Femme: ultra-feminine presentation, whether that’s a little black dress and red lipstick or something more suited to skipping through a meadow with a flower in my hair. When I do that I want to be seen, not as who I used to be but as who I am. And if that means turning the femme stuff up to eleven, so be it.

I was out with an old friend the other night, someone who’s been a strong ally since I first came out. I put a lot more effort than usual into my presentation. Part of it was because I was feeling pretty crappy and wanted to try and cheer myself up with a cute dress I’ve been meaning to wear for ages, but if I’m honest with myself a lot of it was because I wanted him to tell his wife later that “honestly, Carrie’s looking amazing.”

I’m so vain, I know. But I wanted him to report back because – and I remember this with the incredible high definition clarity of all my worst, most embarrassing memories – shortly after I started to come out, my wife and I went for dinner at his house. It was the first time I’d tried presenting as me in front of friends, and I realise now that I looked like an ironing board somebody had drawn a face on.

In the last three years I’ve learnt a lot about makeup, about clothes, about not looking like an ironing board with a face on it. At the time, I hadn’t learnt any of those things.

I felt good before I left the flat, but when I got to the pub I started feeling different, self-conscious. And it wasn’t until a friend at the bar asked me if I was on a date that I realised what it was.


The self-consciousness I was feeling was embarrassment.

I wasn’t embarrassed for me. I was embarrassed for my friend.

I was embarrassed because, well, imagine people thinking you’re on a date with that.

This is what’s called internalised transphobia. Instead of being flattered or amused (We’re friends! I like women!), I’m ashamed and embarrassed. I’m ashamed and embarrassed because for most of my life I’ve been told that people like me are shameful and embarrassing.

As I’ve written before, this goes through the culture like the word “Blackpool” through a stick of rock.

One of the most famous scenes in Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is when Carrey discovers he has kissed somebody who’s trans. This revelation causes him to throw up twice into the toilet bowl and then clean his teeth so vigorously he goes through an entire tube of toothpaste.

It happened in The Crying Game too, and in Naked Gun 33⅓. Horror at trans women is also played for laughs in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, The Hangover Part II and in a particularly repellent example, in the cartoon The Cleveland Show. The “trans as disgusting trickster” trope is widespread on social media.

Still, it makes a change from portraying trans people as murderers.

It’s everywhere. Comedy gigs, TV shows, newspapers. A constant drumbeat of trans people are this, trans people are that, trans people aren’t really people.

You try not to let it get into your head but it’s like trying to stay dry in a monsoon. And it affects everything. How you feel when you’re out with friends, how you feel when you go to work, how you feel when you walk into somewhere you haven’t been before. It’s what stops you going to the thing you said you would go to, what stops you from swiping on anyone on a dating app because you don’t believe anybody could ever possibly desire you.

What I felt for my friend had nothing to do with how my friend felt. As I wrote earlier, he’s a strong trans ally and a good friend; he couldn’t care less what other people think. But I do. I try not to, but I do. The reason I’m so quick to assume what other people are thinking, so quick to feel shame and embarrassment, is because that’s what I think, because that’s what I’ve been told to think for so much of my life.

When I look in the mirror, I don’t think “honestly Carrie, you look amazing“.

I think “imagine being on a date with that.”

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.

A lot can happen in three years

When you’ve made big changes to your life various dates have significance, good or bad. Today’s one of them, because it’s the third anniversary of me beginning to come out.

I thought about doing one of those “what I’ve learnt” anniversary posts, but I changed my mind. I haven’t learnt much, or at least I haven’t learnt much that doesn’t sound like it should be on one of those annoying positive thinking Facebook posts with a sunset or a rainbow behind it.

I’ll make two exceptions, though. The first is to say that the most important thing I’ve learnt in the three years since I started coming out is how much privilege I had.

I didn’t experience sexism, homophobia or transphobia, never feared for my personal safety, didn’t have politicians and pundits arguing over whether I should be allowed human rights or healthcare, didn’t get stared at with open contempt in public places and didn’t have to fear abuse or even violence when I used a public toilet.

And the second is to say that people are pretty great.

Not all people, sadly.

But while social media or newspapers might suggest otherwise, my real-world experiences tell me that the world is full of people who are good, and who are kind, and who look for what we have in common rather than for things to divide us.

Those people have made the last three years worth living.

A greedy few ruin everything for everyone

This is a story about two different social media posts that demonstrate the same problem: that the greed and/or stupidity of a few people on the internet can ruin things for everyone else.

First up, there’s Film Stories Junior. To the best of my knowledge it’s unique: it not only caters for under-15s, but it commissions and pays under-15s to write for them. It’s produced on a shoestring budget by very good people.

Here’s editor Simon Brew, a man who is usually one of the most even-tempered people on social media.

To the absolute shitheads who are pirating copies of Film Stories Junior magazine: stop and think for a minute.

I’ve sunk my savings into this magazine, trying to pay under 15s for writing about film work, showing them that their brains and words have real value.

It is so hand to mouth. I stay awake pondering ways to bring more interest and industry support to it. I’ve put everything on the line for these magazines. And you just steal them.

You steal a kids’ film magazine, and threaten the future of it.

You threaten me being able to print more of their work. You threaten them earning for their work.

You’re stealing a magazine that’s written by kids.

Meanwhile on Facebook, Cris Shapan – as in Cris Shapan, maker of incredibly funny fakes – has found that the content he shares for free online is being stolen and sold for profit.

I have discovered that there are MANY examples of my work being sold on eBay by people who have no connection to me whatsoever. They have simply taken it from the net, printed it, and put it up for sale, often in the $30-$50 range.

Shapan’s initial and entirely justifiable reaction was to decide not to post any more of his work online.

I can’t see the logic in allowing others to make a buck off of my work while I’m eating crackers for dinner. Thanks, and sorry…really, really sorry. I have some really great fans.

After a lot of supportive posts from those fans he’s decided to leave the existing content up for the time being – “the damage has already been done” – but he’s really wary of posting anything new. Why give your work away for free so that others can profit from it?

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.


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.


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.