Do you remember when bigots were ashamed to be openly bigoted? When racists were too scared to say racist things? When it wasn’t okay to brag about grabbing women by the pussy? I do, and I’d like those days to return.
One of the reasons we’re in the mess we’re in is that far too many people are far too willing to make allowances for the ignorant, the intolerant and the downright dangerous.
I get particularly annoyed by the assertion, usually made by affluent middle-class conservative columnists, that we have an obligation to tolerate people with repellent beliefs. If we don’t invite our nazi uncle to dinner, we’re refusing to entertain alternative points of view.
I disagree. I think if you have nazis at your dinner party, you’re having a nazi dinner party.
Jessica Valenti clearly feels the same, and has articulated it with much less swearing than I have.
This week, as the president of the United States casually retweeted an account accusing Joe Biden of pedophilia and baselessly claimed that “it’ll start getting cooler” as smoke haze from California reached New York City, writers Bari Weiss and Johann Hari both waxed nostalgic for a time when friendships and romances blossomed across the aisle. “I don’t denounce my friends when I disagree with them,” Hari tweeted. “If you do, then you don’t actually have friends, you only have political alliances, and your life will be filled with anxiety and unhappiness.” (Never mind the anxiety that might come along with being “friends” with a person who doesn’t believe in your right to marry or control your own body.)
…These calls for bipartisan amicability in the face of unrelenting injustice are a reminder that the life-and-death issues so many Americans face are often just cocktail-hour talk for others. It’s easy to bemoan the lack of politeness in politics when you have no real skin in the game.
That’s why the conversation around civility and finding middle ground is almost never driven by marginalized people, but instead by the powerful.
My friends don’t make me anxious or unhappy; bigoted people do, which is why I’m not friends with any.
Like Johann Hari, I don’t want to denounce my friends. I find the easiest way to avoid that is not to be friends with assholes.
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.
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.
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.
This is heartbreaking, powerful and thought-provoking: Buying Myself Back, by Emily Ratajkowski.
It’s about photographs and paintings and who can control images of you. And it’ll probably further damage your faith in human nature.
Pictures meant only for a person who loved me and with whom I’d felt safe — photos taken out of trust and intimacy — were now being manically shared and discussed on online forums and rated “hot” or “not.” Rebecca Solnit wrote recently about the message that comes with revenge porn: “You thought you were a mind, but you’re a body, you thought you could have a public life, but your private life is here to sabotage you, you thought you had power so let us destroy you.” I’d been destroyed.
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.
Every twelve weeks, I feel like shit. It coincides with the injection cycle for one of my medications, which stops my body from making testosterone; in the week or so before each injection I feel sluggish and stupid and short-tempered and sad.
I don’t know if it’s connected or a coincidence, if it’s a genuine physical thing or psychosomatic, because from what I’ve read of the medication, once I’ve been on it for a year or so – and I’ve been on it for longer than that – my testosterone levels shouldn’t rise significantly towards the end of each 12-week cycle. But I keep a diary and the dates match; more so this month because I couldn’t get a 12-week appointment so I’ll be getting my top-up today, at the 13-week mark. I definitely feel even more sluggish, even more stupid, even more short-tempered and even more sad than normal.
Despite all that, I woke up in a brilliant mood yesterday – and then I got some more good news. I was offered a last-minute appointment with my gender clinic (GIC) doctor.
I was due to see her three months ago, but all trans healthcare basically stopped in Spring this year because of coronavirus. In the meantime I’ve had to do my own endocrinology to ensure a prescription change hasn’t messed up my hormone levels: my practice nurse did the blood test, send the bloods to the labs and I then compared the results with the desired levels. My prescription seems to be okay, but the gender clinic doesn’t know that yet.
It’s not just monitoring. There are some very important healthcare things I need to speak to my GIC doctor about, so when I got a call asking if I could do a telephone appointment at 10.15am I said yes.
It wasn’t ideal, because I was due to go on air at the BBC at 10.45. But it was a really important call, so I told the team that I might not be off the call in time to go on air; my friend and colleague Louise was happy to cover for me.
So I quickly collated all the things I wanted to discuss with the doc – blood test results, weight loss details, a few other bits and bobs – and I waited for her call.
At 10.30, I called the clinic to see if there was a problem. We’ll call you right back.
They didn’t call me right back.
I finally got a call one minute before I was due to go on air, but it wasn’t my doctor. It turns out that there had been a mistake, the doctor hadn’t been available after all, I can talk to her in October. By this time it was too late to go on the radio, so of course I’m not going to get paid for my non-appearance.
The bungled appointment cost me money and wasted time, but it also really upset me. Most of my interactions with the gender clinic (GIC) have left me crying with frustration, and this was no exception: getting the appointment made me feel that after months of waiting, I could finally put some important wheels in motion. It’s much worse to be promised an appointment and not get it than not to have an appointment at all. As we all know, it’s the hope that kills you.
If the October appointment goes ahead it will be nearly a year since I’ve been able to discuss my healthcare; longer still since I’ve been able to do it with somebody competent*. That’s a long time to be in limbo.
This is normal. The COVID stuff is making it worse, but the system is cruel. Here’s Heather Paterson, CEO of SAYiTSheffield:
A person I know has just received [a] surgery referral letter, still with indeterminate waiting time, 6 years after their initial GRC referral. Which was some time after mental health referral. Which was after a wait from GP referral. Which was after years of building up to come out, tell anyone or approach services.
They have been actively fighting a system for over a decade that has thrown hurdles in their way at every step, and over the past few years been navigated while having to see anti-trans stories in the press EVERY DAY and groups actively organising to try and take their rights to live their life taken away.
I am so happy for them that they have managed to survive this process so far and can finally see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, and so filled with rage for those who couldn’t make it that far.
So if you think people are transitioning on a whim, that they are coming out and in surgery weeks/months later, think again.
I’m amazed so many people actually survive this lengthy, quite frankly barbaric system.
* My prescription change was to undo a serious mistake made by my previous gender clinic doctor, about whom I ended up filing a formal complaint and a request to be reassigned.
There’s a lovely and very sad obituary of the late NME writer Dele Fadele in The Guardian. Fadele was an extraordinary writer and the obituary demonstrates how much of an impact he had on people. He certainly had an impact on me: in the 80s and 90s the music press was a lifeline for me, and writers such as Fadele were mesmerising.
The article notes that the decline of the music press, never particularly well paid or suited to longevity, left Fadele with increasing financial problems – he “wasn’t a good salesperson, which is what you have to be to survive as a freelance”; the post-NME success of many ex-writers, few of whom could hold a candle to the likes of Fadele, proves that point.
It’s a hard industry to work in, harder still if you have mental health problems, and it’s a terrible shame to read of Fadele’s worsening health. He was a tremendous writer and by all accounts, a really lovely man who “had the best hugs”. The world’s a sadder place without him.
I’ve written once or twice about choosing not to spend money with firms who platform bigots or who donate to bigots’ charities. So here’s a refreshing alternative to that: in the UK, over 130 major companies have come together in a show of support for trans people.
Their message is simple and should be uncontroversial: “We value trans people as our employees, customers and colleagues.” But that’s enough for anti-trans Twitter to boycott them, once again demonstrating that when they say they don’t hate trans people or wish them ill, they’re lying through their bigoted little teeth.
It’s good to see such a wide range of household names: Microsoft, the British Army, universities and councils, multinationals of various kinds and a few broadcasters too. Some big names are conspicuous by their absence – so there’s NBC but not the BBC, Sky but not Channel 4, the Financial Times but not The Times or its stablemates. Funny that.
I have mixed feelings about these kind of things. Of course it’s always good to see such large organisations state publicly that they value trans people; it’s yet more evidence that the bigots are on the wrong side of history and I think it’s an important message for their employees and potential new hires.
But at the same time, some of the companies here may have great inclusion and diversity policies while still being the sort of organisations that should be first against the wall when the revolution comes.
These feelings aren’t mutually exclusive, although I’m sure Mr Gotcha will be along in a minute: