Friday, 16 March 2018

The real issue is transphobia

Let's be clear, the outburst by a speaker at an anti-trans event on Wednesday, when she called trans people "parasites" demonstrates what trans people have been saying all along - that there is no debate about trans issues to be had. There never has been and never will be. Debating our existence or human rights with transphobes is a non-starter. Especially after this. Any group claiming to want a "debate" is being profoundly dishonest when one party to that that debate perceives it as constituting what Carol Ridell described as "a threat to my living space".

The problem for the anti-trans activists is that their main argument - the notion that self-identification for trans people is going to harm women - is simply not supported by any credible evidence.



Indeed since the transphobes' views have the support of so many well-resourced and powerful organisations, from the Murdoch media empire to ultra-right-wing pseudo-religious groups in the US this is significant. Even though these groups are dripping with money they have still not found any instances of harm caused to women in the countries where gender self-identification has already been implemented. If their arguments were based on fact we could have expected there to have been hundreds of examples, or at least dozens (doubtless plastered all over The Times front page) in Argentina, Norway, Denmark, Malta or Ireland. 



The problem is that how ever respectable a group or journalist or media platform claims to be, by confecting this "debate" they have effectively given permission for haters everywhere to come out of the woodwork and express their hatred and transphobia more openly. In that sense the supposedly "respectable" groups of campaigners against trans rights are actually enabling the production of this transphobic abuse. Their actions of dressing up hate in "acceptable" language gives permission to the haters to be hateful and abusive by dressing it up in a veneer of respectability. They are as complicit in abuse of trans people as the abusers.


So, to recap;

these groups' core argument is unsupported by any evidence, 

there is no possibility of any meaningful debate when the living space of one party to that debate is threatened 

and 

any hint of "respect" has been replaced by insults, hate, personal abuse and harassment of trans people. 

"Concerns..."

This has now become the issue. The issue is no longer one of trans people's human rights, the issue is transphobia. What Wednesday's abusive hate-fest has shown, once-and-for-all, is that this issue is not "concerns...", indeed the term "concerns" seems to be rapidly developing into a euphemism for "abuse, dishonesty and hatred", it is about fear and misinformation and promoting measures designed to harm trans people and deny us legitimate human rights. So from here on the core issue needs to be regarded as entirely one of transphobia; the hatred and abuse of trans people which has been rendered acceptable by groups calling for "respectable" debate, and in this respect we need to identify how this transphobia is manifested...

Overtly abusive hatred or expressed in euphemistic "respectable" language is transphobia. 

Hatred expressed by the extreme selection and deselection of certain "facts" is transphobia.

The deliberate and abusive misgendering of trans people, is transphobia.

Personal abuse, doxxing, whether of adults or children, online or offline stalking is transphobia.

Making claims about being silenced by trans people when the bulk of the media is publishing anti-trans material is transphobia.

Distortions and dishonest material about trans people is transphobia. 

Abusive language being used by people calling themselves "feminists" is transphobia. 

"Concern" trolling intended to harm trans children or personal abuse directed at those who campaign for trans rights, including cis allies is transphobia.

Fake academic research and "advice" to schools promoting the, frankly quite disgusting, idea that trans children being themselves constitutes "contagion" and are harmful to other kids, is  transphobia.

Rehashing the old arguments directed at gay men and lesbians exhumed from the 1980s, like this one in The Spectator, is transphobia.

People describing themselves as "radical feminists" allying themselves with the forces of the extreme right whose normal modus operandi is to spread hate and division against whatever group is available at the time, is transphobia.

Confected and unevidenced "concerns" to create fear of trans people, is transphobia.

Manufacturing alarmist and false concerns about trans rights is transphobia

Making false claims about trans people, producing misleading statistics or comic up with new "theories about us is transphobia.

So if we are going to have a "debate", going forward any "debate" needs to be about transphobia and the damage it is causing, the hate it is provoking and the harm it is producing, not merely to trans people but to other groups against whom this hatred is likely to be directed next. That is the real "contagion". The debate needs to be firmly centred on how we deal with hatred, abuse, discrimination and disinformation based on transphobia, how we enable trans people to live their lives as freely as anyone else, and how we challenge the spread of deliberate disinformation about trans people.



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