“There is no conceivable way the use or misuse of pronouns can be construed as advocating genocide”

A few weeks back I posted a link to a superb literary kicking of right-wing charlatan Jordan Peterson. Here’s another, this time via the writer Daniel Karasik. Karasik wrote a column defending Peterson’s views on trans people’s pronouns, which is what made Peterson infamous in the first place, and Alexander Offord has written a glorious demolition of it and of Peterson.

If you read just one very long takedown of two Canadians today, make it this one.

How you have managed to convince yourself that transpeople represent the “ruling class” and that the “bloody-toothed Leviathan of government” is somehow working to their benefit at the expense of Jordan Peterson’s right to be a colossal douchebag is well beyond my powers of intellection.

This is what self-ID is all about

I got a message from my lawyer today: my divorce paperwork has been curtly rejected by the relevant court because the introductory page uses the pronoun “she” to describe me; the court wants it to be “he”. This is despite the accompanying evidence of my name change in the form of my amended birth certificate, deed poll and so on.

So I have a choice: change two words and resubmit the paperwork, adding a bit more cost and a bit more time to a process that already takes too long and costs too much.

Or I can provide a Gender Recognition Certificate and leave the filing as-is.

Except I can’t. Despite living full time as me, having an official diagnosis of gender dysphoria and undergoing supervised medical treatment, I can’t apply for a GRC for at least another year – and when I do, I’ll have to pay £140 for the application and various other fees to get the necessary evidence from my GP and the gender clinic. As I’m sure you know from painful experience, doctors’ letters don’t come for free.

And the panel may decide to reject my application anyway. There’s no right of appeal, and no guarantee that your application will be granted even if you cross every T and dot every I. If the panel says no you need to go through the whole process all over again.

This is what the proposed move to self-declaration of gender (and the actual move to self-declaration that has already happened in many countries) is designed to address.

It’s important to reiterate this: self-ID is purely about paperwork. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether I can use the ladies’ (I already do), whether the gender marker for me on my passport or on the NHS computer says “F” (it already does), whether I’d be sent to a female prison if I turned into an axe murderer (I probably would, but these things are assessed on a case by case basis).

It’s about paperwork.

It’s about being able to get the Royal Bank of Scotland to change the gender marker on my bank accounts, something that to date has taken seven months and is still ongoing. It’s about having a little bit of paper that tells a court clerk that I don’t have the same name and pronouns I was given at birth. It’s about removing cost and complexity that doesn’t need to be there and making the world a little bit less shitty.

If you’d like to know more about the issue, Stonewall has a good explainer here.

Promises we can’t keep

I blogged a few days ago about the problem with mental health services: it’s all very well to urge people to get help, but the help needs to be there for them.

This excellent piece by Vic Parsons explains how the system is failing many LGBT people.

People are still being left in limbo, on waiting lists, for more than two years – largely because of the tiny pool of resources.

I live in Scotland, where the NHS is considerably less beleaguered than it is in the rest of the UK: there are fewer people in the whole of Scotland than there are in London, and as a result our services are under considerably less pressure. But even then things move glacially slowly.

I had an initial assessment for counselling services yesterday, some 19 months after I first self-referred to the Gender Identity Service (in Scotland you don’t need to go through a GP to access such services). The counsellor felt I’d benefit from six sessions or so, and put me into the system. I can expect my first appointment approximately nine months from now.

That’s February 2019, from a referral in October 2016.

I’m not in crisis. I’ve already had private counselling that I found very helpful; counselling I was fortunate enough to be able to afford. And I’m currently being treated via a private GP, again because I’m fortunate enough to be able to pay for it. But a system that effectively forces people to go private or go without treatment is a system that’s broken. It’s particularly bad for trans / NB people, but it’s bad for everybody.

As Vic Parsons writes:

I know that I can wait for that appointment. But what if I was a teenager, young and alone and afraid?

White van, tran

When I came out as trans, I joked that I did it because I wanted to get yelled at in the street by people in vans. But until last night on the way to the pub, it had never actually happened to me.

Words as weapons

The Onion has had to publish its article again:

This week’s school shooting is in Texas where – surprise! – the shooter is a straight white man who hates women.

The Texas school shooter killed a girl who turned down his advances and rejected him in front of class before massacring seven more classmates and two teachers, it’s been revealed…

Shana Fisher, who turned 16 just days before she died in the attack, had been fending off advances from Pagourtzis for months.

It’s the same old story. Boy meets girl. Boy won’t take no for an answer. Boy murders girl, classmates and teachers with assault weapons.

We’ll have the usual post-event analysis where various people try to blame everything other than violent men with easy access to military weaponry (although one post on Twitter really nailed it: in response to “What will it take to change the laws to prevent more killings like this?” he replied, “One shooting by a black student”).

But this is really simple. Some men believe they are entitled to women’s bodies, and they become furious if they don’t get their way. In a culture where easy access to weaponry is seen by many as a basic human right, that results in mass shootings.

The media is complicit in this. Not just in its gun fetishism, but in supposedly intelligent titles lauding the likes of Jordan Peterson – who this weekend was arguing in favour of “enforced monogamy” as the cure for male violence against women –  and debating whether men have a right to sex.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis certainly thought he had a right to sex, and when the woman he wanted to have sex with said no – not just once, but repeatedly, over several months – he slaughtered nine people.

All ideas are not equal. Some are dangerous. And media has a responsibility to consider that. And yet all too often we get pieces that read like “Hooray for the blackshirts”, the Daily Mail’s 1930s ode to the rise of fascism.

Still, it wouldn’t happen now, would it?

This is from yesterday’s Sunday Times on Twitter. The print piece was headed “Heil Hipsters”.

The article itself may have been reasoned and rational, although as it was by noted fantasist Andrew Gilligan I doubt it. But as one Twitter user posted in response:

What the fuck are you playing at?

The Times’ original tweet has now been deleted, but it shouldn’t have been posted in the first place. As British Future director Sunder Katwala responded:

While @thesundaytimes can report on the very fringe middle-class professional banker seeking to relegitimise racism for a better spoken far right, its perhaps best not to tweet it out like its some celebrity fashion shoot.

As he points out, the “breathless national reporting about [the] rise of hipster racists” lacks context. These are extremists, a tiny minority, but their views are dangerous. And their mission is to normalise racism. Presenting them as normal people is exactly what they want.

Jokes

One of the ongoing assignments in my comedy writing class is to come up with topical jokes. Be glad I’m not there to deliver them in person.

The UK media has got itself in a tizzy over people using the term “gammon” to describe angry white men. One Spectator columnist got so angry about it he had a heart attack. He was taken to hospital in a hambulance.

According to experts, the upcoming royal wedding will cost £32 million. Other experts point out that burning Piers Morgan in a wheelie bin would cost one millionth of that, and make the UK 32 million times happier.

Chinese pilot Liu Chuanjian was hailed a hero after his co-pilot was nearly sucked through the broken cockpit window of his Airbus A319. It’s currently unclear how the co-pilot was sucked out with such force, but Chinese authorities would like to interview your mum.

Your da’s writing for The Herald again

Brian Beacom caused online outrage recently when he wrote a column in the (Glasgow) Herald dismissing Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer win in the music category. To paraphrase: black people’s music isn’t proper music.

Today, he’s marking mental health awareness week by saying that the cure for mental illness is to “grow a pair”. If you need further evidence for the prosecution, he warmly references right-wing dingbat Jordan Peterson.

I’m not linking to it because that’s the whole point of the piece. It’s an attempt to monetise outrage, to say something horrible in the hope it’ll get traffic and therefore generate ad revenue. Beacom has previously claimed that alcoholism isn’t a disease; I can’t wait for next week’s piece when he explains that people in wheelchairs are lazy.

It’s a business model that’s becoming much more common in our brave new ad-funded world. The online business world used to call its model “clicks and mortar”. Now, it seems, it’s adopted “pricks for clicks”.

(“Your Da” is a Scottish social media meme; it’s our equivalent of “gammon”.)

Update, later that day:

The Spectator lives down to its reputation again. The headline has since been changed.

Tired and emotional

The writer Tess Stenson posted something to Twitter earlier that really resonated with me.

When I first joined Twitter, many moons ago, I pointedly decided not to turn my feed into a trans feed. I joined so I could promote my upcoming book, and franky, I didn’t want to bore people with those issues.

As Tess goes on to explain:

With the rise of the alt-right, and right wing politics dominating the political discourse, and an increased awareness of trans people (that part being a very good thing, mind), the more transphobic elements in our society have only got louder.

Factor in the bullshit being spouted about Gender Recognition Act reform and the dread hand of the religious right using trans people to try and divide the LGBT community and trans people are under attack constantly.

I’m aware that I post more trans stuff here and on Twitter than some people might like, or be comfortable with. But Christ, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the stuff I wade through each and every day.

I see more than most because I’m a news junkie. Every single day – and I really mean every single day – my news reading app delivers dozens of anti-trans pieces published in mainstream US and UK publications. The vast majority of them are either misinformed or misrepresenting easily verifiable facts, and some of them are downright hateful. And the news app also gives me lots of the more right-wing publications, which are even more hateful.

This stuff comes to me. I don’t go seeking it. Algorithms decide that because I’m interested in trans rights, I want to see a gruesome, uncensored photograph of a trans woman hacked to death with a kitchen knife. That because I’m interested in legal protections for trans people I want to read endless news stories about trans women murdered in North and South America. That because I’m interested in LGBT issues I want to read right-wing columnists calling me subhuman. I block, and I block, and I block, and the tide just keeps on coming.

And then there’s social media. Going on social media while trans is electing to pour an enormous bucket of shit over your own head. When I follow a Twitter link to, say, a Sky News piece about an upcoming documentary about a trans person I know not to look at the replies or the comments under the video. It’s just an ever-growing litany of bigotry and hatred.

So I switch off. Take a break. Try to make myself look nice, pick out something I think makes me look good. Head for the pub and after just twenty metres I’ve been mocked in the street by four shaven-headed, overly muscled lads because while most people are great, some people are pricks.

Sometimes they mock you in the street, sometimes they stage whisper “that’s a MAN” in the pub, sometimes they call you perverts in national newspapers and sometimes they dedicate their life to trying to deny you healthcare (this NHS consultation was deliberately targeted by anti-trans activists promoting quackery such as discredited and dangerous conversion therapy; the report [pdf] makes that clear).

Back to Tess’s Twitter:

The strain of it all is immense. Pretty much every trans man, trans woman, and non-binary person I know has felt it.

If you think it’s a slog to read about a tiny proportion of it, imagine what it’s like to live it.

One of these things is not like the other

Much of the media – including people such as Brendan O’Neill, who you may recall has bad opinions for money; he was defending anti-semitic dog puppeteer Count Dankula a few weeks back – is exercising itself over whether it’s okay to call angry white men “gammon”, which of course it is. Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson explains it very well here.

Meanwhile, Professor Tanya Bueltmann shares the everyday reality of social media for women who speak out against Brexit. The language is not remotely safe for work. Each example is from a separate message and there are 200-odd more that she hasn’t posted. I can provide countless other examples of women receiving this kind of shit for the grievous offence of Using The Internet While Female.

One of these issues is considered more important than the other and is generating hundreds of column inches. Can you guess which one?

I ham what I ham

There’s a completely manufactured controversy brewing over the term “gammon”, which was first used to describe the angry, red-faced, right-wing men in the Question Time audience and has since become a catch-all term for the kind of people who wear MAGA hats, complain about immigrants and rant about Political Correctness Gone Mad in the comments underneath Daily Mail articles.

According to Brendan O’Neill of The Spectator, who has bad opinions for money, it’s “typical of Corbynista intolerance.”

That’s hogwash.

It’s simply a pejorative aimed at the people who call anyone who isn’t an angry, red-faced, right-wing man a snowflake, libtard, cuck, cucktard, remoaner, trot, social justice warrior, traitor… you get the idea. People who revel in how un-PC they are.

Anyone who tells you gammon is a racist or classist slur is telling you porkies.

Related: These days, right, if you tell anyone you’re English, you get arrested, and thrown in jail.