The reason I have had enough is not all to do with that horrible piece written by Julie Birchill, it’s the idea that the media seems to have, that trans people are there to be derided and ridiculed. You can’t publish an article about gay people and call them “faggots”. You can’t publish an article about black people and call them “niggers”. But apparently it’s ok to publish an article about trans people and call them “shemales” and “shims”. Apparently it’s ok to try and subvert a trans persons identity by referring to them with the wrong pronoun, use their birth name instead of the one written on their Deed Poll.
This has to stop. Now. As I was reading *that* article I remember thinking to myself in absolute shock at how the hell an editor could have ever allowed this to go onto his website. It should never have even happened.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the Guardian Media Group has published a transphobic article, and on each occasion the issue has been addressed with a rebuttal from a trans commentator, and then swiftly brushed beneath the carpet. What we are seeking to achieve in protesting outside their offices is to ensure that the editors take the issue of transphobia as seriously as they would any other form of prejudice, and to make a proper commitment to keeping transphobic articles out of their publications for good. An unreserved apology is the absolute minimum that we deserve.
I will be attending a protest on Thursday 17th January at the Guardians offices, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9GU at 4:30PM. I want to peacefully and calmly make my voice heard and then go home and hope that I have helped to make a positive difference to the way trans people are represented in the media, and if you feel the same and want to help, please come along and show your support.
I have just read this statement from John Mulholland, editor of The Observer:
“We have decided to withdraw from publication the Julie Burchill comment piece ‘Transsexuals should cut it out’. The piece was an attempt to explore contentious issues within what had become a highly-charged debate. The Observer is a paper which prides itself on ventilating difficult debates and airing challenging views. On this occasion we got it wrong and in light of the hurt and offence caused I apologise and have made the decision to withdraw the piece. The Observer Readers’ Editor will report on these issues at greater length.”
My immediate reaction to this is that it still falls short. If the article was about black people, gay people or disabled people she would have been arrested. How could they ever imagine that writing such awful words was “exploring contentious issues”? This was a deliberate attack on a minority.
EDIT 21:45: I’m hurt by the article and as much as I want to pack a punch as it were, I think the respectful and dignified course of action would be by holding a vigil-type protest and read the list of names of trans people who have been murdered around the world from Transgender Day of Remembrance. We want to bring attention to how transphobic words in the press translate to transphobic abuse from society, aimed at people who just want to live their lives without discrimination.
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