The Times transphobia in May

The Times expresses the transphobic ideas it wants to normalise, in order to persecute trans people. Their flaws can be expressed easily, but this is what transphobic motivated reasoning looks like.

3 May: Guidance for Edinburgh University lecturers on transgender issues. Microaggressions negate the thoughts, feelings and lived reality of trans people. The Times quotes a trans person, but will not quote the ordinary English word “cis” without explaining it: the quote contains “cis [non-trans] person”. The Times calls the trivial observation that microaggressions undermine people into question by putting it in quotes, from the guidance.

3 May: The Wairarapa book festival has cancelled its Harry Potter quiz, after consulting LGBT+ groups. The “news” article by Mike Wade takes an entirely transphobic line, saying Rowling was pilloried for arguing sex is real, and that “men who identify as women” are not the same as “biological females”. The criticism of Rowling is called “a torrent of abuse”.

4 May: Charles Wide QC, a retired Old Bailey judge, has written a pamphlet for Policy Exchange claiming Stonewall has too much influence over the Law Commission’s consultation on hate crime laws, which includes anti-trans hate.

4 May: For the Scottish elections, the Times did reports on the manifestos of the Conservatives, the Greens, Alba, LibDems and All for Unity, where their picture was of Alex Salmond though both Greens and LibDems far out-performed him, the SNP and Labour. The headings were Economy, Taxes, Welfare, Education, Health, Justice, Constitution, Housing, Environment, Infrastructure, Rural Affairs, and Transgender. These are important matters, but the emphasis on Trans is disturbing: trans rights are a small part of Equality and Human Rights generally.

6 May: “Nicola Sturgeon fails to understand equality laws, research finds”. Mike Wade, current extremist transphobe, writes that Murray Blackburn Mackenzie is a “policy analyst that writes about gender controversies” rather than an anti-trans campaigning group of three women, whose site only attacks trans rights. Wade quotes the campaigners’ interpretation of the law as if it were true. Whatever else it is, the anti-trans screed is not “research”.

7 May: New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is likely to be the first trans athlete at the Olympics. She transitioned in 2012, and has met IOC testosterone levels rules since 2015. “Some scientists have criticised these guidelines” says The Times. Well, some scientists have denied climate change and even denied evolution. The article, including the photo, is taken from Reuters.

7 May: review of the film Cowboys.

On 8 May, the comment articles were predictably giving Labour a kicking, but had sideswipes against trans people. Janice Turner wrote, “A common Twitter phrase is ‘get in the bin’. That’s where you belong if your views on immigration, gender or a myriad issues deviate from the line. Pretty soon, every voter will be in the bin.” Giles Coren pictured Boris Johnson as doing everything men wanted to but were too afraid, including despising “all the gender stuff” and declaring war on France.

9 May Schools trans guidance “breaches law”, says the headline. Actually, it’s not so clear. The Times finds the most extreme position as a quote. If a trans child does not want their parents told, should the school inform the parents? Large amounts of money, through “Christians” and transphobe parents, is being brought to challenge the right of a child to present in their true gender at school without their parents being informed. An advocate has produced counsel’s opinion when instructed by one of the phobes, saying their case is arguable. The Scottish Government is considering the matter.

15 May. “Women must be heard on transgender identity”, ascribed to the new chair of the EHRC. This shows the confusion over discrimination on “belief”. An employer could not sack someone for being a Young Earth Creationist, though arguably it shows a willingness to call academics liars and deny good evidence out of prejudice, so disqualifies one from any position of trust. But they could sack someone for attempting to convert colleagues, or forbid them from wearing a cross. If transphobic hate is called a “philosophical belief” an employer won’t be able to dismiss someone for being a hater, but might be able to dismiss for hateful action, and even perhaps expression of the hate. But the Times puts the rights of the hater at the maximum- “to be heard”, then goes on to discuss JK Rowling and transphobe Forstater.

A better paper might have wanted the new chair’s views on other things, and indeed the end of the article mentions anonymous online abuse, and ethnic pay gaps. I doubt she “attacked those who criticised” the Sewell report, either. From the quotes, she criticised those who attacked it, which is very different.

9 May: A letter from transphobes gives some of the rights at work they want, including to be able to demand a trans woman is excluded from women’s loos. Of course, this is expressed as a demand for “single sex toilets”. The Sunday Times did a report on this letter. They want an inquiry into Stonewall’s diversity champions scheme. There’s more chance of that than an inquiry into the Covid failures.

If trans-exclusionary belief becomes protected, transphobic employers and human resources workers will be empowered, to find grounds of philosophical belief to oppress trans people. Few cases get to the employment tribunal.

Positive stories

10 May: Sapir Berman, a trans woman, has refereed an Israeli Premier League match. There’s the usual patronising stuff: she always saw herself as a woman, from a young age. It’s as if that justifies her decision to transition. In reality, we transition because we are trans, whatever experiences we have had, however we articulate our reasons for transitioning.

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