The Morning Star has apologised for its transphobia after it published a cartoon of (select text to show transphobic content) a crocodile “slithering” down a path towards a pond with frightened fish, saying “Don’t worry your pretty little heads! I’m transitioning as a newt!” Never mind that crocodiles eat land animals, striking out of the water, portraying trans people as predators has been pretty much the Morning Star shtick for the last two years.
The cartoon was printed on 18 February, and initially was online, but then removed. The Star apologised on Sunday 23 February, saying bizarrely that “The cartoon had not been authorised for publication”. Then how on Earth was it printed? Can anyone just stick something in the paper, does no-one in charge check?
After the apology they printed an editorial on Thursday 27th, headed “We failed in our duty to equality and liberation”, admitting “we let our readers down… we understand that trans people experience discrimination, harassment and threats to their safety and even lives”. They are holding an enquiry on how it got published, and reviewing past coverage “which has sometimes failed to reflect the priorities of our trans readers”. They even will promote reform of the Gender Recognition Act! But they are keen not to alienate feminists- The Morning Star also recognises that sex discrimination at work arised from deeply ingrained patriarchal and systemic oppression of women and that we will continue to campaign against gender stereotyping, gender occupational segregation, violence, harassment and pay discrimination.
They say they will campaign against any attacks on the Equality Act, which they may not understand. Generally, trans women are allowed in women only spaces but may be excluded in particular circumstances. A blanket ban on trans women is probably not lawful. Yet the Star says, The Morning Star supports women-only spaces in addition to gender neutral spaces and is particularly concerned that our trans readers should be protected from harassment and violence they face from the lack of gender neutral space. But binary trans women want women’s space, not gender neutral space. They say they “will work to heal divisions between the women’s movement and the LGBT+ movement” but the divisions are within the women’s movement, most feminists supporting trans inclusion.
On 28 February they published an article by a trans woman headed “How transphobia hurts”, stating the obvious truth that Nobody goes through the hardship of transition and the difficulty of living as a trans person to prey on other people.
However they still have transphobic rubbish on line. On 20 February, Mark Serwotka wrote, “The drive to expel feminists from Labour is creating a hostile environment for women”. No-one wants to expel feminists from Labour unless they indulge in repeated prejudiced hatred of trans women. The Labour Campaign for Trans Rights pledge is Support the expulsion from the Labour Party of those who express bigoted, transphobic views. That is in line with Labour Party rules: party members are not allowed to “demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on… gender reassignment or identity”.
Serwotka writes, some on the Left are retreating from sex-based rights. “Sex-based” is code for “No trans women”. He refers to the McCarthyite demand for the expulsion of feminist women in Labour who dare to call for debate about sex-based rights. Trans people are bullies, “promoting the harassment of women”. He is hostile to the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights. The drive to expel feminists is times immediately after the defeat of a left-led radical Labour Party at the 2019 general election. Well, the drive to expel trans women from women’s spaces was launched during the election campaign, a far more divisive and prejudicial time. Serwotka speaks out for Selina Todd.
What old transphobic articles survive on line? An adulatory review of the WPUK conference on 2 February is full of dog-whistles and attacks on “identity politics” where they mean trans rights. The subheading says women gathered “to discuss their sex-based rights”.
On 20 December they wrote, “Magical thinking should have no place in law”. It states repeatedly, in the most offensive ways, that trans women are men: “It’s as plain as the cock on the Cerne Abbas giant”. It refers to “extremist and unscientific transgender ideology”. “I keep expecting a grown-up with authority to take a stand and call out the Emperor as not just naked, but as a predatory flasher.”
On 17 October, also still on line, they wrote “Time for Socialists to take action against gender stereotyping”. It says trans women should not be on women-only shortlists. The writer said there was a complaint about her views outstanding. I don’t know what the complaint is, and I don’t trust her account of it, but the Morning Star prints it without question. The writer refers to a trans rapist as if she is typical of trans women. She says equal rights for trans women are “a sexist ideology… the end of freedom of speech and belief”.
Monstering trans women, and portraying phobes as brave but vulnerable victims, abounds in the Morning Star. Thank goodness Unison stood up for us, challenging the Morning Star’s transphobia.