Categories
Bullshit LGBTQ+ Media

Twitter is not real

Whatever you think of the SNP/Green Party deal, it’s significant that 94.9% of the SNP membership voted in favour of a deal whose key points included GRA reform. Once again it demonstrates that the spittle-flecked anti-trans fury you see online isn’t representative of reality.

But it is representative of what gets printed in the papers. As many people have pointed out, Twitter is used disproportionately by people in the media. It’s a good source of stories on slow news days and of content to plagiarise, and it’s also home to a number of echo chambers where journalists hang out.

There was a good example of this earlier in the week when the BBC ran a story about Ofcom leaving the Stonewall Diversity Champions project. The wording of the article was very strange, suggesting that the LGB Alliance was a rival to Europe’s largest LGBT+ advocacy group (and since when did human rights organisations have rivalries?), completely misrepresenting why most of the LGBT+ community hates the LGBA and using the same language about trans people that anti-trans hate groups use.

If you look at the writer on Twitter, his following list is a who’s-who of anti-trans activism; his wife, also on Twitter, is an anti-trans activist who used her account to boast of “peak transing” her husband – the anti-trans equivalent of redpilling, where you successfully recruit somebody to the cult – back in 2018. Here in Scotland, a Scotsman writer’s recent piece on anti-trans activists being ejected from an Edinburgh pub had to be pulled completely: first it was edited to remove the deliberate misgendering she’d put in the news story; then it was pulled altogether, presumably because the lawyers decided it was legally actionable. If you look at the writer’s Twitter account, it too is a who’s who of anti-trans activists and hate groups.

These anti-trans activists are not writing columns, where opinions are labelled as such. These people are writing news stories, which are supposed to be unbiased and transparent. When you’re reporting news you can shape the story without telling any lies: you simply choose to platform this voice but not that one; to publish what group A tells you but not the rebuttal from group B.

People who are deeply immersed in the anti-trans movement should not be writing news reports on activism they or their friends are actively involved in. It’s unethical, immoral and in blatant breach of the NUJ Code of Conduct. In fact, it’s in breach of every version of the Code since the original in 1936: A journalist “should not falsify information or distort or misrepresent facts.”

Twitter is not real, and neither are the scare stories the echo chambers’ tame journalists circulate. What they’re publishing isn’t journalism; it’s client journalism, journalism that twists reality to suit the agenda of its friends. Or as it’s also known: propaganda.

Categories
Books LGBTQ+

“You can get married, but can you walk down the street holding hands?”

This interview with Shon Faye is a must-read.

You can’t be fired or denied a  service for being trans, you can legally change your gender, we have technically free healthcare… [but] because these rights exist, it gives people license to assume that everything’s fine when, actually, it’s far from fine. It doesn’t matter if gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act if we’ve completely decimated legal aid and there’s no way a trans person can take an employer to tribunal, for example.

This is why the “but what rights don’t trans people have?” question so beloved of anti-trans people is disingenuous: they’re fully aware that rights that aren’t enforced are rights denied. So for example while it’s illegal to discriminate against trans people in employment, one in three UK employers say they wouldn’t hire someone if they knew that person was trans. And as Faye says, even if you’re pretty certain you have been discriminated against, you probably can’t afford legal action against the employer.

Categories
Books LGBTQ+

The reality for trans kids

It’s ironic that The Guardian, a newspaper that – alongside its Sunday sibling, The Observer – has helped normalise transphobia in the UK, has published one of the best pieces I’ve read on the effects of transphobia in the UK. It’s an extract from Shon Faye’s forthcoming book, The Trans Issue, and I can think of many journalists who should read it and feel deeply ashamed and regretful. They won’t, but they should.

What’s striking about Faye’s book is that in stark contrast to the recent rash of books claiming to be definitive guides to “the trans issue”, Faye went out and talked to people: trans people, parents of trans people, specialists of all kinds. Existing books haven’t done that, preferring instead to rely on anti-trans obsessives: one recent book, Helen Joyce’s Trans, cites ludicrous pricks Graham Linehan and Stuart “Wings” Campbell as legitimate sources (in a very small list of citations) and appears to have swallowed Jennifer Bilek’s antisemitic conspiracy theories wholesale.

The reason anti-trans writers don’t talk to trans kids, parents of trans kids and specialists is because they would encounter uncomfortable truths: a great deal of what they write about trans people is bullshit.

A good example of that is the claim that children are being “transed” because their parents are homophobic and would rather have a trans child than a gay one. It’s a pretty good indicator that the person telling you this hasn’t talked to any parents of trans children, let alone children themselves: they’re sitting in front of a laptop with their friends, telling each other scary stories about the sinister transes.

Faye:

Parents who decide to support a child in their wish to transition and live socially in a different gender are still usually regarded as controversial by much of the population. This can range from schoolgate whispers and pointed questions at best, to outright accusations of child abuse or Munchausen syndrome by proxy at worst. Some parents even fear losing their children because of misguided intervention by authorities.

It is much, much harder to be the parent of a trans child than the parent of a gay or lesbian child now. Here’s what happened when one child’s parents wrote a letter to other parents at their child’s nursery.

The initial positive responses to their letter gave way to hostility, as they found themselves confronted by parents who said they were doing the wrong thing. “The responses that hurt were where people thought that their child could be confused and/or that our child was contagious. So people stopped their kid hanging out with ours, or quit some of the groups that she was part of.” Kate recalled how people pulled their children out of the swimming lessons and gym club that Alex attended: “We had people ask to be put in a different class, saying, ‘My child can’t be around a trans child or a confused child.’”

Another claim is that coming out as trans gives kids at school special status, an excuse for bad behaviour, special privileges.

research reveals that the reality for trans pupils in British schools is starkly different: 33% of trans pupils are not able to be known by their preferred name at school; 58% are not allowed to use the toilets in which they feel comfortable. Horrifyingly, almost one in 10 trans young people have received a death threat while at school. Rather than being indulged or given special treatment, the stark truth is that many trans children are receiving little institutional support and, in some cases, are explicitly discouraged from being fully themselves at school.

The moral panic surrounding trans children and their families not only obscures the bullying and exclusion trans kids already face, but actively encourages it.

It’s a pity that the people who should read and reflect on this won’t.

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.

Categories
Bullshit LGBTQ+

New Zealand vs new zealots

This is beautiful. The anti-trans group Speak Up For Women sent many submissions to the New Zealand Human Rights Council, but while they posted their submissions publicly they didn’t post the response – even though the letter explicitly asked them to. The reason? The HRC handed them their bigoted arses on a plate.

Categories
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.

Categories
LGBTQ+

“We need politicians who are not afraid to lead by example”

A blistering article by Dunja Mijatovic, the CoE commissioner for Human Rights.

In addition to mobilising certain categories of voters, the exploitation of societal homo/transphobia has proven a convenient way to divert public attention away from government failure to address pressing social issues and rising inequalities and broader attacks under way on human rights and democracy.

…Politicians targeting LGBTI people often propagate narratives promoted by the so-called “anti-gender movements”. For some years now, there have been reports about the expansion – in Europe and the rest of the world – of these increasingly organised, transnational and well-funded movements, made-up of religious extremists and ultra-conservative organisations. The anti-gender movements call into question the concept of gender and whether it is a protected category in the human rights framework, promoting an ultra-conservative view of the family, sexuality and women’s role in society. Anti-gender movement actors seek to blur the lines for their audience by adopting the vocabulary of human rights, but what they are doing in reality is working to deprive other groups – mainly women and LGBTI people – of their rights.

Categories
Books LGBTQ+

The Appendix is out

I’ve been looking forward to reading The Appendix, by Liam Konemann: it’s one of 404 Ink’s “Inklings”, pocket-friendly books by interesting voices. Konemann’s book is beautifully written, fascinating, joyful and sad. It left me reeling.

Here’s the blurb:

In 2019, Liam Konemann began collating what he called ‘The Appendix’, a simple record of ongoing transphobia in the UK that he came across in day-to-day life: from the flippant comments of peers to calculated articles and reviews in newspapers. When the list began to take its toll on his mental health, he changed tack by asking different questions: how is beauty in transmasculinity found? And how is it maintained in a transphobic world?

I read the book in a single sitting. It’s the kind of book you want to tell everybody about and quote endlessly. Konemann’s life and mine are very different, but there’s so much in this book that resonated with me, so many lines that hit me right in the gut. Highly recommended.

Categories
Bullshit Technology

Overshared

Following on from my last post about “disruptive” tech firms, this excellent Jen Sorensen cartoon was published on The Nib (click <– for full strip).

Categories
Bullshit Technology

Uber is running out of road

I’m deeply cynical about so-called disruptive businesses: the AirBnbs, the Deliveroos, the Ubers. I don’t think there’s anything particularly admirable about using VC money to undercut and destroy the competition or trying to evade the regulations designed to protect the people who use the service or the people who do the work. But I was still surprised by this piece on Uber, which makes it clear that the firm is even worse, and in even worse shape, than I thought it was.

Uber was never going to be profitable. Never. It lured drivers and riders into cars by subsidizing rides with billions and billions of dollars from the Saudi royal family, keeping up the con-artist’s ever-shifting patter about how all of this would some day stand on its own.

According to Cory Doctorow, Uber is “a dazzle op that keeps new money flowing in, convincing people that a pile of shit this big must have a pony beneath it.” But there is no pony.

Doctorow has written about Uber before.

From the start, Uber’s “blitzscaling” strategy involved breaking local taxi laws (incurring potentially unlimited civil liability) while losing (lots of) money on every ride. They flushed billions and billions and billions of dollars down the drain.

But they had billions to burn.