Thursday, 31 May 2012

Transphobia and misogyny at the BBC - Pathetic responses from the terminally uncool.

Being snowed under with a pile of work has kept me from blogging of late, but there have been a few happenings that I feel require comment.

 The first of these is as a result of Paris Lees' excellent article in the Independent about the transphobic abuse by "Snog, marry, avoid" on BBC 3, a typical example of the current fashion for cheap and nasty TV as the BBC competes with dodgy commercial channels in a race to the bottom. Paris is of course right to call the producers of this programme on their transphobia and, like her, I believe this issue goes way further. 

One of the problems with describing the girl with slightly untidy hair and a slightly les well-plucked eyebrows as a transsexual is that it is not merely transphobic in that it stereotypes trans people, but it is also highly misogynist, because it uses the threat of looking like some imaginary stereotypical transsexual as a stick to beat women with. "Conform to the ideal of beauty as set out in women's/gossip magazines/adverts/the fashion industry, or you will look like someone who is not a 'real' woman." So now "transsexual" has become an insult with which to beat women, but it is effectively two insults in one; it is designed to take the piss out of trans women as well.

Double bigotry from an organisation that takes its funding from all of us through the licence fee, including trans people and cis women. Nice one BBC for using our own money to oppress us. The Daily Mail could take a leaf out of your book.

So far, so nasty. One of the rules of life in general has always been, "when you are in a hole, stop digging". Advice the BBC has ignored in this case. Describing this incident as intended to be light-hearted and humorous, the BBC has added insult to injury. Humiliating, stereotyping, discrimination-inducing language, which causes trans people severe problems;

at school,

at work (or most likely out of it),

in the street,

on the bus,

 at religious gatherings,

with their own families,

down the pub,

on the tube...

 Yes this is humour at the expense of a group of people already experiencing severe disadvantage. "Humour" of the Bernard Manning type? Humour that helps keep trans people in the position of severe disadvantage. As we all know, that place is not a nice place for many of us. Trans people are turned into objects of ridicule, not real people.

Go on lads, you can take the piss/beat up/harass/torment/rape these people, because that is what's what they are there for! They're not really people... Lovely.

But what has angered me most about this incident, is that the BBC have been using this excuse for bigoted, transphobic TV for a very long time. For as long as I have been complaining about the transphobic nature of the BBC's, and every other TV station's, output, they have used the same tired old excuse. TMW have, of course done a sterling job over the last couple of years, and it is a measure of how far we have come that Paris was able quickly to get an article in a mainstream newspaper criticising the programme makers for their failings. But it really is time we stopped allowing these media types to get away with the same old pathetic excuses;


"no offence intended",

"just a bit of fun."

It is time we demanded better. It is time we called them on their responses to criticism, it is time they started responding with "Yes we got it wrong, we apologise and we won't do it again..." It is time they started to feel the humiliation that they inflict on us.

It is time they were faced with the reality that their transphobia is terminally uncool, they are not the hyper-hip metrosexuals in designer jeans they want us all to think they are. Transphobia is uncool, in fact it has been for some time, that is why it is most often seen in places like the Daily Mail, the Sun, Whatsisface's Good News, and tired cheap (in every sense of the word) garbage TV like SMA.

In terms of coolness, transphobia piled on top of misogyny puts the makers of this programme in the baking heat of the Sahara desert, and about as far from cool as a Daily Mail journalist, it is about time they were made to feel the heat of their own making.