The Critic

The Critic is a recently launched magazine, with its first issue dated November 2019, which is obsessed with trans people. It loathes us, lies about us, incites hate against us- but why does it care so much?

Dominic Green starts his history of trans with TS Eliot and Tiresias, the prophet of Apollo whom Hera transformed into a woman. The readers of rubbish like this like to think they are cultured. I had not heard of Michael Dillon, who he says was the first trans man with a phalloplasty operation, in several stages over three years, 1946-9. Green gives his old name. Green then argues that 97% of trans women have penises. He quotes an estimate of 200-500,000 trans people, then says the 4910 GRCs by 2018 is less than 3% of 200,000, so almost none of us use hormones or surgery. But then, of that 500,000 people maybe 50,000 will have transitioned, and 60% seek genital surgery.

Do we seek “the psychological rewards of specialness and victimhood”, as Green alleges? Well, I don’t. Being a victim is ghastly. Perhaps Green has never been a victim.

Julie Bindel claims “transgender ideologists are winning the battle for media hearts and minds”. Perhaps she never reads The Spectator, or The Times. She starts by whining about being called a transphobe in 2008- perhaps seeking “the psychological rewards of specialness and victimhood”- and goes on to claim The Guardian “push[es] the trans agenda”. It really doesn’t. When Bindel says the BBC has “activists with microphones”, she alleges these are its trans journalists, rather than its transphobes.

Josephine Bartosch attacks the Women’s Equality Party in advance of its consultation on trans rights results. “Is the WEP really for women?” asks the headline. Obviously it is: as Bartosch admits, it campaigns for “equal representation in parliament, the pharmaceutical industry to not treat men’s bodies as the default, and for an end to the pay gap between the sexes”. In advance of the result of its consultation, the WEP is supportive of trans women, and for Bartosch that means it is not working for women. Reading these transphobic whines can be oddly reassuring- Bartosch also lashes out at the Fawcett Society and the Red Tent for failing to back her view.

The editors claim there is no clear moment when someone transitions, or when this is recognised in law. This is untrue- the Gender Recognition Act and the Equality Act are clear about when they protect people. That article started with an attack on the American Civil Liberties Union for tweeting “men who get their period are men” (again, note the power of our allies, and the obsessive squeaking of the phobes). This is no more than saying “trans men are men”, but probably gets The Critic’s ire because it suggests that we can be trans without taking hormones and having surgery.

In a year, The Critic has 25 articles tagged “transgender”. It asked, “Can self-respecting feminists remain in the Labour Party?” I would expect The Critic to attack the Labour Party, being a hard right publication, but this is completely lacking in proportion. Which is the party with the best chance of being elected, at the same time as being feminist? Labour, of course, which introduced the All-woman shortlist among other feminist projects. As a trans woman, I would say trans rights are not the most important feminist issue. This article attacks Labour’s “grotesque fetishisation of a fashionable minority group”.

To me, the Critic is the one fetishising us, giving an attack on us far more coverage than 50,000 or even 500,000 people deserve. Even Brexit has only 99 tagged articles. It gives a long article to extremist Brexiters opposing the Northern Ireland Protocol- that’s the part of the withdrawal which respects the Good Friday Agreement treaty with Ireland, which is essential for a US trade deal or to obey international law. It writes of a “clean break Brexit”- ie, no deal, damaging our economy and international relations. It is yet another extreme right publication attacking trans people. “The point is not trolling,” the editors write, disingenuously.

When it launched, The Critic claimed it “exists to push back against a self-regarding and dangerous consensus that finds critical voices troubling, triggering, insensitive and disrespectful”. That is, its sole purpose is to foment culture war, rather than say anything interesting about politics in general. Culture war is all the Right has to offer its dupes, as it entrenches plutocracy in the US and UK. The main tone I see in its attacks on trans people is one of whining resentment, seeking “the psychological rewards of specialness and victimhood”. I am so glad I had not heard of it before now. I cast a cursory glance at boring, transphobic rubbish, so you don’t have to.

4 thoughts on “The Critic

    • Yes. They want to create hatred, and direct it against harmless targets, so political energy is wasted rather than used for good purposes- such as, tackling climate change, regulating harms with principles such as “the polluter pays”, protecting the weak.

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