Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Lies: What the homophobic Nazi posters in Australia reveal about the trans "debate"

The Nazi homophobic posters appearing around Melbourne, as part
of the Australian referendum campaign on equal marriage are very revealing in a number of ways. One the most revealing is as an illustration of how the trans rights “debate” has proceeded in recent years.

The Nazi posters have made some claims about gay include some
outrageous claims that can only be described as outright lies, such as “92% of children raised by gay parents are abused”. These claims have been deliberately built on a “scientific” study that has been torn apart andthoroughly discredited. They are lies.

Nevertheless Australian Prime Minister Maclolm Turnbull has said that these posters are “part of democratic debate”. Yet in the same way that people have argued about false information spread by transphobes against us, Turnbull made it about something other than what it was;

“People will often say in any democratic debate, they’ll often say things that are hurtful and unfair and sometimes cruel, that is part of a debate.”

Note here that his argument is framing these posters and “hurtful” “unfair” and “cruel”. He is not acknowledging the main criticism of them; namely that they contain lies. This mirrors exactly the experience of trans people in the so-called trans “debate”. Commentators from Julian Barnes in the Telegraph to Nick Cohen in the Guardian have reworded as “offence” trans people’s opposition to transphobes publishing lies and assertions that cause actual harm to trans people, including trans children. Transphobes from Germaine Greer to Milo Yiannopoulos have been defended in this way. The Australian example demonstrates that these supporters of "free speech" are actually attempting to put words into our mouths; the objection to transphobic material being published is not primarily that it is offensive but that it contains lies, and lies that can be verified as lies.

However the trans “debate” continued recently with a dishonest article in the Morning Star by a teacher, who, worryingly, is also in a senior position in the NUT. Amongst the oft-repeated claims she makes are that granting the same rights to trans people as to everyone else (ie. the right to self-identify) would “have huge implications for all of us”. This unsubstantiated assertion is followed up with a similar one; “Neither is it helpful to say that these proposed changes only affect the trans community because it fundamentally isn’t true.” She also says, “The relaxing of any legal definition of what it is to be a man or a woman could render sex discrimination law meaningless”, and perhaps the worst lie of all;

“To deny any group or individual in that group the right to be part of a discussion about their identity is insulting and will result in a failure of the great liberation we are all seeking.”

Given that extending trans rights will not affect anyone other than trans people, this assertion can only be regarded as deliberately misleading. The current trend amongst transphobic bigots is to frame the debate on trans rights as changing women’s identities, as if trans women being able to identify as women fundamentally undermines the identities of cis women, a ridiculous claim that is easily exposed by asking the simple question of it, “How?”

Like the claim that trans kids are automatically on some kind
of "conveyor belt" to surgical transition, the NUT Vice president's assertion is a pure fabrication, yet it is one that gets plenty of airing to the extent that I’m sure that the TERFs would be using the slogan “We want our gender back!” if UKIP had not got there first. 

So if there is no threat to women's identities from trans people's human rights, why do transphobes want to muscle in on the campaign for trans people's rights. The answer can only be to prevent trans people from having equal rights, not to protect women, but because these people hate us. They want to do this, not because trans people having equal human rights to cisgender people threatens any cisgender people, because that argument is so obviously false but to keep trans women, in particular, in their place as "Women; 2nd class".

One of the problems for trans people is that the way the media is currently constituted makes it difficult, if not impossible, for a group of people who are the object of this dishonesty to have a response printed which directly exposes the falsehoods and deception these kind of articles spread. Because most people have little knowledge of trans issues, that makes it easy for transphobes to take advantage of editors' reluctance to publish any right-to-reply. This has been used to distribute transphobic material unopposed.

The example of Nazi homophobic lies in Australia is obvious to most people; indeed large numbers of people will see through these kind of lies. This is not the case for trans issues. What the Australian example reveals to those not affected by this morass of transphobic hate is the nature of this trans “debate”. It is a “debate” which, like those mendacious Australian posters, is made up with one side’s material being comprised of almost entirely lies or unsubstantiated claims, and the other side attempting to expose this dishonesty with basic facts. Yet when we complain about these lies we are told we are merely “offended” rather than deliberately misrepresented. 

So next time we hear of someone complaining about lack of “debate”, or that “women’s” voices – ie transphobes - (inferring that trans women are not women) should be “heard” in this debate, what follows is almost certain to be even more lies, misinformation and unsubstantiated claims. That, unfortunately, is the nature of this debate. One side would not be able to take part at all if dishonesty, unsubstantiated claims and outright lies were excluded.

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