Suzanne Moore storm in a thimble, miles away, which need not affect me at all, and I am in tears of rage with it.

I feel like a child talking to a teacher. She started it! My long explanation of precisely how bores her and breaks down, so before I am finished I am the one getting the strap, and it is not fair. The teacher is The Guardian itself. It is supposed to be progressive, and should not insult trans people.

Onywye. Suzanne Moore wrote in the Guardian with the throwaway line We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual. Irritating but not lifethreatening. Some trans folk objected, and there was a twitterspat.

Julie Burchill then wrote in the Observer a deeply insulting article- calling us “bed-wetters in bad wigs” was not the half of it. Well, I wear a wig, and with such a short urethra, post-operatively, I had some problems before I got my pelvic floor so strong. Lots of women have. The Observer has apologised and withdrawn the article from its website.

Then Suzanne Moore wrote a follow-up. To that teacher, who does not care about the subtleties, it might seem an apology. Suzanne has had friends who were transsexual, apparently.

But to me (subtly and out of the teacher’s attention) it pushes my buttons. It starts with the title. I don’t care if you were born a woman or became one. When does she think I became a woman? At my sex-change operation, perhaps? I have always been a woman. I have always been me. I have had one gender. Pre-transition self-identified trans women are women.

Then she says Some trans people appeared to reinforce gender stereotype going. People comment that I seem more feminine than most women- I am exquisitely attuned to surprise or disapproval in that. It is an old feminist trope for hatred of trans women, though Moore extends it to men as well. I do not wear lace-trimmed skirts to oppress women, but because I like them. If you don’t like being criticised for your clothes or appearance- I assume Moore doesn’t- then don’t criticise mine. Simple, basic empathy.

No-one can speak for anyone else, she says. Moore does speak for me when she attacks the Government. She thinks I should focus on that, and get behind her, so she may insult me with impunity. No. I happen to find the insults the most important thing in the article. Her telling me what I should think makes it worse. She could always attack the Government without attacking trans people.

I am just angry. It brings up my stuff. Someone links it on facebook, I read it (yes I know I should ignore it, but well, I read it) and I get wound up.

Oh and- Julie Burchill objected to being called a “cis woman” to distinguish her from a “trans woman”. It is an ancient Latin prefix, commonly used, and it is the only way to refer to a non-trans woman which does not insult me. “Real woman” “Born woman” “Natural woman” and the rest all include me.

Thanks to these bloggers for support and information.


18 January: I am coming round to defending Suzanne Moore.

She does not think we trans women are really women, that is the thing. She thinks we are castrated men. She thinks if we call ourselves feminist we are faking; she may dislike our “femininity”; she is not going to come round. Even in her latest piece she says something about not liking the word “cis”.

I like what she writes about the Government. She said initially that we should get behind her attacking the Tories, and actually, she is so good at that that I am willing to overlook the odd throwaway line about Brazilian transsexuals.

Yes. It is “trans women/ trans men/ trans folk” rather than “transsexuals”. Yes, omit the “trans” unless it is relevant and necessary, and yes “cis” is the only way of describing non-trans women that does not insult us- for yes, I am born female too. And I know how much people get hurt by these remarks. And, still, hooray for Suzanne Moore, giving Cameron another kicking.

Press Complaints Commission ruling exonerating the Burchill article.

November 2020: Moore “left” the Guardian.

9 thoughts on “Suzanne Moore

  1. Dear Clare!

    I am reminded – sorry, but I am – of that strangely unhelpful/helpful phrase, “a woman trapped in a man’s body” which does, at least, get closer to the truth than Ms SM.

    I wonder if SM finds her strangely aggressive language, her abrupt assertions, a bit of a turn on? They are tough love, she would say, realism, adult content. Just grow up and allow me to (a) get it completely wrong; and (b) insult you with impunity. We see this all the time. The one upset is being unreasonable, not the one being strident, unhelpful, unclear and unkind.

    My advice? Ignorance is everywhere, and we cannot change the world by getting upset, though of course our upset is helpful to galvanise us, to show us our preferred route. We are always at choice, my darling. If I could, I would give you a great big hug, and maybe remind you that journalists are motivated by what sells, so distortion and unkindness are par for the course.

    XXX 🙂


    • I did not even get what was so wrong with SM’s original line. I needed it explained to me. “Transsexual is not a noun.” Oh, OK. I do not find that as a noun insulting, as “diabetic” is not insulting, but the consensus is that it is a boo-word, that “trans woman” is the respectful formulation if you really must distinguish- ask yourself, is it relevant that this woman is trans?- and “woman” otherwise. And I agree that we get to name ourselves.

      And- the later stuff triggers me. Not a real woman. Not really feminine. Fake and wrong and disgusting and an enemy.

      Now it is everywhere- Brooke Magnanti in the Telegraph, for example- and I am envious of trans women getting to write in more noticeable places than my blog.

      Actually, I like that brutal style. “Cameron makes Thatcher look like Shirley Williams.” Got the bastard! It is fair rough and tumble in politics, though I like calm rational debate as well as PM’s Questions. And it provides a channel for anger at its proper target. But I have been the target of misdirected anger. It frightens and hurts me.

       ♥ Hugs ♥ welcome ♥ hug ♥ back ♥


      • It is rough and tumble in politics, I agree, but ignorance in matters of gender needs no encouragement, and is not quite the same thing, is it? Politicians agree to be in the limelight, as it were, but we just want to be accepted as we are, a normal human expectation which should not come with an argument attached. Journalists are powerful, and should be careful that they don’t abuse people who are just trying to get a life.

        “Transsexual” is not so insulting, though it feels strangely neuter….Transwoman is more like it, but I prefer woman. Just woman. I am a woman. I know what I am, and what I am is not up for debate. There is no real gender confusion in you, it’s just that perhaps you spent years trying to make yourself fit the wrong shape. Like Cinderella’s sipper on the ugly sister’s foot. “I’ll MAKE it fit!” Quite simple, you just didn’t. Not really a big deal (if you see what I mean) and certainly not one that deserves to be a target in the national press.

        Thanks for the hugs! More coming to you. XXXX ♥ ♥ ♥ 🙂


  2. Who or what or how or when or where are any of us if humans had not created words and categories resulting from all these named things. I don’t mean to be repetitive but underneath it ‘all’ we are soul energy using this human being to experience this world we currently live in. The good news is its all temporary, whether you live for 2 seconds or 200 years. Impermanence is a gift to behold. Envision each moment as a lifetime of opportunity. Seek it, experience it without malice and judgment and ‘see’ the beauty of each experience you ‘feel’. Then let it go and reflect where you are now and now and now….


    • I do not mind you being repetitive. I need to hear it.

      I was washed ashore from a boat, and I clung to a piece of driftwood for my life. I lost consciousness, and there was only the wood and the clinging. Now washed ashore, I can see that it would be easier to walk if I were not clinging to my driftwood, but I find prising loose the knotted muscles more difficult than I might have wished.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for giving me so much to think about with this post. I wonder how much jealousy plays into many comments that cis women make against trans women. As I was reading your post I thought of many jokes told by female comedians “warning” men from trans women and using how “perfect” they are as a warning sign that they aren’t “real”. Maybe a lot of us try to distinguish you as others in order not to have to be on the same playing field…


    • Welcome, Kristi. I am glad you have found me.

      That was the basis of the original objectionable remark: middle-class women here do not look as good as Brazilian trans women. The lassie pictured here is quite bonny, and the description shows how unlucky Suzanne Moore was to be picked up on it. “Youngest transsexual”- not only transsexual as a noun, but the weird idea that one becomes a transsexual, presumably on having the op.

      And I have that European privilege. I can survive as a frump who many people identify as trans. I do not need, as elsewhere, to be extremely attractive and make my living as a sex worker. Though women tell me they envy me the beauty of my legs!

      The beauty myth affects all women.


  4. Clare,
    It just sounds to me like these people (the writers) are clueless. Objectifying anyone is a way to make them less human. Ant the truth is – I really hate labels. You are you and the only label I feel comfortable attaching to you is “beautiful human being.” So there…


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