Saturday, 30 January 2010

The consequences of QQT

As the dust settles from Julie Bindel's latest foray into Queer/trans friendly territory, we can see what a malign influence she is. Reports are still coming out from those who were inside the RVT, and no doubt recordings will be made available which underline what a mistake it was to invite someone like her to any kind of open public discussion. People like her provoke very strong reactions, which they then stir up and use for their own purposes. We must make the point, as loudly as we can, that the demo outside was peaceful and that we were not involved in any of the nastiness.

Doubtless Bindel will use this in another article in the Guardian or Standpoint to crap on trans people (even though it was not only trans people who have a problem with her). This is her stock-in-trade, she cannot win the argument so she provokes... classic tactics used by the morally dubious, from Goebbells to Palin, claiming to be the victim of bullying when she is the one with access to national media.

So what happens next? Let us be clear, we are at war. This is not just about an evil individual using her power over one of the most disenfranchised and downtrodden communities, in an attempt to define us in the way she would like to. It goes a whole lot further than that. Last night I spoke to one of the representatives of the sex worker community and he described how she had been instrumental in having the law changed to make life more difficult for sex workers. Life for these people is now apparently measurably worse.

This is about Julie Bindel's campaign to have Gender Reassignment Surgery removed from NHS funding. This was the purpose of the incredibly badly written and distorted article in Standpoint Magazine, a hard-right wing organ apparently established to influence an incoming Tory government, which, despite the veneer and airbrushing, is going to be as nasty and right-wing as Thatcher's. This article was clearly intended to establish her credentials as an anti-trans journalist, who would be able to assist the Tories with making "cost savings" to the NHS budget by getting rid of GRS. It is worth noting that the Taxpayers Alliance, the Tory Party's alter ego, has been publishing costs of GRS in various NHS areas around the country.

Cometh the hour cometh the Bindel. Assisting the Tories to achieve these cost savings (at the cost of lives) will be just the boost her career needs. This woman clearly has ambitions along the lines of Melanie Phillips, yet she has one attribute which Mel P does not; she is a lesbian and as such will be seen as someone who can write about us with credibility. The value to the Tories of Julie Bindel in this situation will be immense. Trying to remove GRS from the NHS will generate a lot of negative publicity and some Tory MPs will come under pressure from constituents affected by the changes. Being able to find someone who, however dubiously, can give them some kind of justification for doing this will be God's gift to Cameron.

Julie Bindel's next career move is planned, her positioning ready to take advantage of a Tory government, the sky is the limit, she will achieve greatness over the dead bodies of transgender people.

Our reaction? This is something which needs to be set in train very quickly. We need a united national organisation which can speak for all, or pretty much all, transgender people, and their supporters. PfC has been very successful up to now in improving things for trans people, but they have achieved this success with a Labour government not a reactionary Tory one. What is required now is not a fight for more but a defence of what we have and that is going to be achieved not merely through rational considered argument and political lobbying, which PfC and others have done very well, we need a bigger voice, we need to be able to shout as loud as Bindel, so that when her campaign (no doubt coordinated with the Taxpayers Alliance and Central Office) to have GRS removed from the NHS starts in earnest we can make our voices heard.

We need a national organisation not merely because then we will have much better opportunities to get our voices heard in the media, but also will be able to show unity in the face of the inevitable provocation which Bindel will engage in. As a community we will need to be disciplined and well organised.

Back in November, I was at a conference in Sweden about trans issues and there I met a group of people from Ireland who had formed a national trans organisation there. In a country with a much greater degree of hostility to us than the UK they have been able to achieve much greater progress for trans people than anyone could have expected. A national trans organisation has also resulted in them being able to bid for funds from the EU which has helped their cause immensely and resulted in a greater unity amongst all trans people in Ireland. It is time we did the same. We need to establish a similar organisation in the UK, bid for funds and start to employ people to deal with the media and to put our points across more forcefully, countering Bindel's lies, provocations and disingenuous distortions. We will need a properly established constitution and democratic elections to an executive, but there are constitutions of other national organisations which we can borrow and adapt. We have people in our community who have experience in running trans organisations on a smaller scale, we need their expertise and experience to turn to something larger.

If the opinion polls are correct we could be operating in a much more hostile political environment soon, the brick wall we hit with the Equality Bill is just a small foretaste of what is to come. Make no mistake, over the next few years trans people will be under attack from all sides. Now is the time to get organised and make a fight of it.

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