An oppressor uses mirror propaganda to claim that their victims are the true oppressors, by accusing us of doing precisely what they do. They then claim their oppressive acts are legitimate self-defence. For further reading: the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s book “The Media and the Rwanda Genocide”, extracted here.
The Council of Europe condemned the “virulent attacks on the rights of LGBTI people” in the UK, and the “false, dehumanising” “gender-critical, anti-trans” narratives which “harm women’s and children’s rights and social cohesion”.
Unfortunately, the UK sent anti-trans propagandists to oppose this resolution in the Parliamentary Assembly. Their speeches were a good illustration of mirror propaganda. David Maclean, “Lord Blencathra”, said the anti-trans campaigners were simply seeking an open discussion, but the problem was “a small militant group of extremist trans activists who will tolerate no discussion as they seek to impose their ideology”. He claims it is trans people who wish to change the law, while he campaigns to exclude trans women from women’s prisons.
He claims we “vilify and dehumanise” cis women, even as he does that to us.
Do we “impose our ideology”? There is no such thing as trans ideology. Trans people exist. We flourish when we present in our true sex. There is a virulent anti-trans ideology, claiming trans women are a danger to cis women, and extremists want to change the law to exclude us from women’s services.
Anti-trans campaigner and statistically illiterate MP Tonia Antoniazzi wanted to delete the UK from the countries specifically condemned, because she claimed her side was entirely reasonable, merely debating rights “to get them right for everybody”. That is the counterpart to mirror propaganda: reassure your side “We’re the good guys”.
Sometimes the mirror propaganda needs you to delve into the footnotes. When I did, I found Akua Reindorf, now on the board of the EHRC, had accused Stonewall of saying the law as it wished it to be rather than as it was- falsely; but done precisely that herself.
The New Statesman had a disgusting article by Louise Perry. Her headline is classic mirror propaganda: “Trans activists ask us to redefine what most consider to be truth”. We don’t. We ask to be tolerated. Anti-trans campaigners redefine truth, by denying our existence: they claim trans women are men who transition on a whim.
In the article, Perry claims trans people force everyone to say trans women are women, to take a definite position on The Issue of Trans. But I don’t. I want people who know me to treat me decently, to object if someone doesn’t, and to use my pronouns, as a matter of courtesy. I don’t demand anyone change their view of the world. It’s the anti-trans campaigners who do this. Perry is saying everyone is affected by Trans Campaigning, and so everyone should take a stand.
Perry claims a threat to women in prison: she claimed trans women could choose to go to a woman’s prison rather than a man’s. She then wrote of Karen White, even though White could not now go to the general population of a women’s prison.
Then she says that trans people are arguing “We should all be free to be whoever we want to be, and other people need to bend around us, acting and speaking in accordance with our wishes.” But we are not. Trans people simply exist. Trans people like Arthur Corbett bend, and do not transition, because they fear persecution, though they suffer for it.
I accept Louise Perry does not think I am a woman, but she really ought to accept I am a trans woman. She thinks it is a matter of desire- I transition because I want to. In reality, I transitioned because I could not bear not to, though I fought my needs and tried to suppress them, even with conversion therapy. People do not transition on a whim. But for Perry, we’re the ones demanding others bend around us, rather than desperately trying to force ourselves to fit others’ expectations, even to breaking point.
By claiming trans is an extremist ideology, by claiming trans people are a threat, by claiming we oppress innocent people such as Maya Forstater, Kathleen Stock or JK Rowling, or even (as Perry claims) all cis people, the mirror propagandists make our oppressors feel self-righteous. They are the victims! We are the oppressors! So they should get to defend themselves from us, which in practice means violent attacks.
I’m astonished to read this here today. I’m reading through / editing my sister’s book and one of the chapters is on the Rwandan genocide, and how the victims are blamed, and “othered”. She writes,
“When genocide cannot be literally denied, it is relativized (interpreted), or blamed on something other than the perpetrators (implicatory). Implicatory denial may even blame the victims of genocide for their own deaths, perverse as that is. All forms of organised genocide denial have in common that they negate any, “plan of one people to eliminate from existence all those who are conceptualised as their enemies” (Zimbado 2007: 11). The question of “intent on the part of perpetrators to physically destroy a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”, is at the heart of legal definitions of genocide, and it is this intention that is either refuted or projected onto other ‘perpetrators’, in the various forms of genocide denial.”
The current Rwandan government is also intent on enforcing its’ own version of events, to the exclusion of all others. It does not make for happy outcomes.
And all we have ever wanted, is the right to live our own lives, on our own quiet terms. Which is reasonable enough; unless, of course, you happen to believe in slavery to someone else’s ideology.
I came upon the idea only yesterday. I am not sure it applies to trans rights.
With the Shoah, there was a rich European tradition of Jew-hatred, and propagandists such as Der Sturmer printing every day lies about Jews oppressing Aryans. With anti-trans campaigning, there are troll farms, and there are full-timers, but to a huge extent individuals radicalise each other on online forums. So I wonder if intention and belief matter. Someone might genuinely believe that, say, trans ideology redefines what a woman is, so harms women preventing feminist sisterhood. I know that trans people exist and gender-critical ideology claims we do not- that “men decide they are women on a whim”- and that harms us, preventing feminist sisterhood which should be against all oppression. But if someone posts on Ovarit about Trans Ideology, even if they give some new twist to the idea, I am not sure they are a propagandist.
And I am not sure it is a useful concept on trans rights. I might be better sticking to our own points- some people are trans, we just are, we are mostly harmless- than attacking the opposition. As they say, with irrational beliefs, if you refute them you have to repeat them, and thus you reinforce them.
They would rather we commit suicide, so producing untold harm on our families, than allowing us to exist in peace. I have yet to see anything written on transmen using women’s toilets, yet by their definitions they are women.
Welcome, Philippa. Thank you for commenting.
There is quite extreme hate on some of the most radicalised sites. I have seen objections to trans men using women’s loos, on the ground that women’s loos are to protect women, but men’s loos are just because they aren’t allowed in the women’s. Or something. Why should they have to be consistent, anyway? Here is my post on which loos trans men should use.
A very good assessment of the anti-trans mentality, written in your clear, thoughtful style. Thank you. Sue x
Thank you, Sue.