Murray Blackburn Mackenzie

Murray Blackburn Mackenzie claim to be policy analysts. Their twitter and website have a reassuring air: a picture of the Forth Rail Bridge in sunshine, a logo of three grey wavy lines to look serious. They could be a long-established firm of Edinburgh solicitors, though few solicitors would have a request for donations on their front page, or endorsements from four notorious anti-trans campaigning politicians.

They are generally referred to as policy analysts, for example by The Guardian. Note the headline: “Scotland’s gender recognition reform is a ‘recipe for bad law’, say campaigners”, though the article itself says Rape Crisis Scotland and Amnesty, and every party but the Conservatives, support the proposals. Who is against? One of these “policy analysts”, tiny hate group Four women Scotland, and LGB All Liars.

So, why bother reporting what they say? Is a tiny hate group’s opposition to gender recognition reform overwhelmingly supported by Scottish civil society actually newsworthy? The Herald is a model of reporting, quoting at length supporters of the law as befits their importance, but still quoted MBM, calling them “a policy think tank”. The Scotsman calls them a “policy group”, and had a silly piece quoting one of them at length after she resigned from the Royal College of Nursing. The RCN had investigated her for a potential breach of contract. Reporting on the gender recognition consultation, The Times quoted the Catholic Church, the Church of Scotland, and “the policy analyst” MBM.

What do they tweet about? Their pinned tweet is about gender recognition reform. All their 54 tweets in May are too. One of them is Kath Murray, a criminologist. Her pinned tweet is about “recording sex accurately” (No Transwomen!) and again her tweets are overwhelmingly attacking trans rights.

Do they blog about anything other than trans? In 2021 they did an article about whether the Green Party, now it is in coalition with the SNP, would retain opposition party privileges. So I did a quick google. It doesn’t. In 2020, they did a three page submission on the Lobbying Act. And, that’s it. By contrast, they have eighteen posts this year so far on gender recognition, scaremongering and making unsubstantiated allegations of harm.

Everything else is an attack on trans rights. Under “education”, there are three articles, all about trans rights. One makes the shocking allegation that “no university in Scotland has any form of organised representation or networking for female staff”, but read closely, it reveals that it means all the women’s groups may include trans women. It then goes on about anti-trans campaigners as if they were victims.

There is a great deal on their site about data collection. All of it is advocating trans exclusion. For example, they are desperate that trans women should be told to tell the census that we are men, even though the Court of Session disagrees. They make a number of unsubstantiated claims that trans women being allowed to say we are women is “harmful” to accurate statistics, though the proportion of the population who is trans is under 1%, and trans men and trans women will cancel each other out.

All of their work on criminal justice and policing is about trans: for example, they do not want hate crime law around misogyny, but around the characteristic of sex, which they define to exclude trans women from the category “women”.

Who are they, anyway? Two former civil servants and a research fellow. Just as anyone can set up a wordpress blog, it seems anyone can call themselves “policy analysts” or consultants, get to make scaremongering, unsubstantiated claims to parliamentary committees, and have their words reported unquestioningly by the press, as if what they said matters. It only matters because the press decides it does. So MBM’s message of hate and exclusion spreads.

The effects of the culture war

Could attacks on trans people and culture war win power again for the lying, cheating Tories who have done so much damage to this country? Johnson partied while the rest of us were in lockdown, erected a customs border between parts of the “United Kingdom”, threatens to break international treaties so Britain cannot be trusted and he might start a trade war, and lies and lies again about it. On the other hand, Max Hastings in The Guardian claims, Keir Starmer “refused to define a woman comprehensibly”. In fact, Keir Starmer has said trans women are women. The only definition that makes sense is, a woman is anyone who honestly says she is one.

Nevertheless, the public seem to be noticing the bull and bellyaching about culture war issues. IPSOS, the polling organisation, and King’s College London, report that while in December 2020 46% of British people agreed the country is divided by culture wars, now the figure is 54%. So Johnson and his media enablers divide the country further, for their own gain.

78% believe the country is divided, up from 74% eighteen months ago. The number who have read about “being woke” is up from 49% to 65%, and the number who have read about “cancel culture” is up from 39% to 60%.

36% believe “woke” is an insult, up from 24%. It’s complicated. The word is Black culture, so I don’t use it. I call myself an ally to those seeking human rights, and various spiritual terms for my own desperate fight for self-respect. Meanwhile, most people using it intend an insult, as if supporting human rights were a bad thing.

Is the term “White privilege” helpful thinking about race relations? Yes. But 51% of people think it unhelpful.

In 2011, there were hardly any articles in UK newspapers mentioning “white privilege”. The number passed 200 in 2016, and 1400 in 2020. “Cancel culture” hardly appeared until 2018, but passed 3500 articles in 2021. The Daily Mail carried 23% of those articles. Fewer than fifty articles a year mentioned culture war in Britain until 2016, but in 2021 the figure was over 1500. The report does not state the slant of the articles, but they are often contemptuous and vitriolic.

What media chooses to report matters. Hastings links to a clip of some vile little man asking Starmer “Can a woman have a penis?” As if what he thinks about that could show he is out of step with ordinary, prejudiced, Britons, and therefore even though Labour manages the economy better they should stick with the Tories. This report shows that lie is gaining traction with the public. It is far easier to count mentions of a specific phrase such as “cancel culture” than to provide a meaningful measure of the slant of the articles, but they are overwhelmingly against human rights.

The report barely mentions trans: 38% of media articles on free speech discussed universities. It just says some alleged harassment of academic staff for their views on trans rights, but does not count the number of articles referring to trans people. However, as the Guardian article shows, attacks on trans rights are a major tool of the hard Right culture warriors, and are having an effect.

Offence, hurt, fear and trust

There is a caricature of a trans person or woke ally, objecting to some phrase as not the latest, most correct language, and being “Offended”. When should you use the word “trans,” and when “transgender”? Someone in my mostly-safe space said that they “weren’t sure of the right words”, at the weekend, and I was in part irritated, in part frightened. It maintains a hard-Right myth that the powerful metropolitan elite, the radical Woke, and even trans people are oppressing ordinary people by demanding they talk and think in a particular way.

I am way beyond offence at misgendering. I will try to maintain an illusion that the other means well, just made a mistake, and mistakes are OK.

Or if I hear on the radio a fawning interview of an anti-trans campaigner, I am not offended, I am frightened. The outside world, where there is hostility to me simply because I am trans, has intruded into my house. I am interested in politics, and want to read mainstream centre-left commentary, but in the New Statesman, Guardian and BBC anti-trans views are regularly platformed uncritically. I am not the Elite, using being Offended to oppress others. Instead I hear the powerful broadcast their hostility to me simply because I am trans.

Well, what do you expect? Do you think society should support its members, and do you expect such support? That expectation, the basic trust that society is on my side, is a sign of privilege. Do you think the police support the population generally, or the powerful? A friend told me of going with three bus-loads of demonstrators. The police turned them back, closing a dual carriageway but for the buses with a police escort, which changed at each county boundary. They weren’t allowed to pee. Later, she got £5000 compensation. For her, the police are an oppressive force, and the courts work for her because she has the contacts with the knowledge and funds to use them. Not everyone has.

My bad experiences with policemen are not that bad, in the scheme of things, and I still feel some nervousness seeing a police van with seats for officers and a cage at the back for a prisoner parked in my street. Probably the person they have come for is violent or theftuous. I have some trust that their work has some value, but not a sunny expectation that if I am in a confrontation they will be on my side.

Society as a whole does not seek my good. I can survive and find allies. Much distress comes from the difference between expectation and reality. Surely the New Statesman and Guardian, even the BBC, should support the rights of minorities? That is not how the world is. I need to see reality as it is, however discomfiting the experience.

I remember Saira’s casual contempt when abused in the street. The men shouted “Fucking Paki!” She told me she thought, “Oh, get it right”- her parents were from Bangladesh. She is not cowed by them. Also at the weekend there was lovely, charming and just the tiniest bit creepy Alan. His delight and admiration at my femininity, beautiful hands, indeed personal beauty, was flattering, and I was perturbed for my boundaries. He told me the secret of good posture walking and standing was not to pull the shoulders back but to tighten the muscles of the lower back slightly, which support the rest of the body in a relaxed posture. Hold your head high. Pass through the hostility unashamed.

Of course it is frightening. Bad things may happen. Powerful men are inciting anger and hostility against trans people. I cannot trust society to support me. I can only trust myself. This is about stepping into power. The problem is that society tells us we will be safe, if only we don’t make a fuss, rock the boat, get noticed. I have tried that for too long. It does not work.

I had a wonderful weekend. I cycled to Peterborough, got the train to Diss, stopped off in Ely going, Norwich coming back, to see the cathedrals, and spent three nights with ten friends. The devoted love our hosts have for each other, in spite of difficulties, is inspiring. I also touristed a church, opened up for a prayer group, with a tower from 1500 but the rest rebuilt in the 19th century. The priest chatted a bit, of her six churches, testing out whether I might worship there. I don’t believe in God the Father Almighty, I told her, and she said there is also the Spirit, as if there is a choice.

At one point I spoke on “It’s not easy being trans” and a friend got up and walked away. I love her humour and intelligence and I sympathise with her resenting becoming a foreigner at Brexit. I want that friendship, but nothing is guaranteed.

Gender Martyr

Rob Hoogland has been jailed, and the extreme Right are up in arms against it. He was jailed for refusing his child medical treatment which doctors said was necessary, and denying the child’s medical condition, then holding the court in contempt for two years. On being jailed, he expressed remorse and said he had been used as a pawn, and “played”, by transphobes opposing all treatment of trans children.

The child, whose real name I don’t know, socially transitioned at school for a period of years. He did not feel able to tell his parents, and his parents justified his suspicions by completely opposing his treatment. He was assessed by doctors including an endocrinologist who set out a course of treatment. Hoogland refused to co-operate, so the hospital decided they knew best the medical treatment the child needed, and would treat the father’s consent as unnecessary under the law.

Hoogland continued to act up. He was adopted by the hard right, as he says as a pawn for them to use to oppose gender affirming care, and in 2019 the court ordered him to use male pronouns when referring to his son.

In March he was arrested, and, overwhelmed by a sense of his own righteousness backed up by the wealthy, powerful transphobes, he stayed in jail rather than consenting to admit his son’s medical needs. At the hearing on Friday, he finally expressed remorse, so his sentence was reduced to six months.

If the British Columbia Supreme Court publish the judgment, I will have a look at it. However, otherwise, I can only find reports of the case on the nutcase transphobe/ hard right press: New York Post, “Christian Concern”, and a host of tiny websites. “Trans ‘Justice’ has gone haywire” blares some worthless transphobe on some site. No, transphobes feel entitled to ignore medical advice, the needs of their children, and the orders of the court.

What about the detransitioners? ask the phobes. Well, what about the retransitioners. The phobe conditional positive regard- lovebombing any trans man who will detransition, withdrawing the love if they break increasingly stringent rules- works with incessant societal transphobia to make some detransition.

There’s a lot of transphobe money around. Rob Hoogland’s crowdfunder raised $56,000. So the judge ordered him to donate $30,000 to a charity.

The phobes don’t care how many lives they ruin. Trans children can just go hang. Poor Hoogland regrets how the phobes manipulated him, now. Hysterical phobes are milking the story still. There’s a picture of a pair of fists grasping jail bars, the fists brightly lit against blackness in the cell, which hardly reflects Canadian prison conditions now.

I really should not go on Twitter. This morning over breakfast I read a New York Times opinion article about Planned Parenthood, how Margaret Sanger, its founder, was a racist eugenicist, and how the charity should reckon with this blighted heritage. There’s an aside near the end about how language might exclude trans and nonbinary people, and phobes Jesse Singal and Hadley Freeman choose to emphasise this as if PP no longer cared about women. “Misogynistic!” I found that when I ill-advisedly clicked on a link on a facebook trans group.

The obsessive haters in Britain have chosen yet another new name. This time the same tiny group of phobes have decided to call themselves “thoughtful therapists”. Perhaps Robert Withers, the Andrew Wakefield of trans health, is one of them. They oppose law on trans conversion therapy based on the Memorandum of Understanding, even though it is signed by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and nineteen other health, counselling and psychotherapy organisations. It’s like the American Academy of Pediatrics being condemned by some nutcase far right Christian group with “Pediatrics” in their name.

I hope the robust commitment to rehabilitation of the Canadian justice system does Rob Hoogland some good.

Jenni Murray

Trans people suffer whenever trans issues get media attention. Jenni Murray’s transphobia and the reaction to it shows how.

Murray’s Sunday Times article in 2017, whose text I found through this search, affected sweet reasonableness, but expressed distaste for trans women. The headline is chosen by a subeditor- “Don’t call yourself a real woman”. Her claim to be accepting is based on small grounds- “I firmly believe transsexuals and transvestites (sic) …should be treated with respect and protected from the bullying and violence”. She criticises some of the more extreme transphobic language. But then she says people calling for the no-platforming of Julie Bindel show “repulsive misogyny”. Julie Bindel has shown appalling transphobia.

She says the Rev. Carol Stone is “a man [who] claimed to have become a woman”. She felt angry because when she met Carol she told her her concerns were whether to wear makeup, rather than sexism among male priests. Carol has made it easier for women and queers to be priests, but all Murray says about this is that Carol was concerned about what to wear. Similarly India Willoughby did not object to female staff at the Dorchester Hotel being told to shave their legs and wear makeup.

The demand that trans women should be feminist is transphobic. I am feminist, and I feel everybody should be feminist, but many people aren’t. Murray uses the fact that two trans women have said some unfeminist things to attack all trans women. Then she says what matters is female socialisation from birth, and minimises trans women’s difficulties: we “simply decide to take hormones and maybe have surgery and ‘become a woman’.” She quotes an older trans woman saying she is “not a real woman” and why she is read as a man, and a self-hating transwoman- “a ‘woman’ after my own heart”- and an anti-trans campaigner saying their usual transphobe lines.

What do you emphasise of a trans woman’s journey? She gives Jenny’s male name, says she felt drawn to wear her wife’s clothes in secret, she transitioned, her wife divorced her, she opened a feminist bookshop. Murray gives unpleasant details about anatomy.

The whole is distaste and disbelief, emphasis on anything to discount or discredit our womanhood, and a few expressions of grudging tolerance. It is the transphobia of a third of the population, the kind of distaste which can coexist with politeness and imagines itself tolerant, but it is more than that as Murray has chosen to write a long article for a transphobic paper. It is designed to spread at least such intolerance, possibly worse.

No-one could read the article and be better informed. Jenny Murray does not like trans women, and writes of trans women she dislikes and aspects of trans experience commonly used to deny we are women.

Murray faced some criticism. Stonewall published a blog post the same day, by its Executive Director of Campaigns and Strategy, who is trans, saying trans is about our innate sense of self and we have a right to have our identity and experiences respected. Then lots of dullards wrote their tuppenceworth on the matter, to get clicks.  The Herald on Sunday, in a general interview the following week, failed to get Murray to say anything further but still started by summarising the juicy bits from her Sunday Times article, putting in a picture of India Willoughby.

A self-hating transwoman got her ungrammatical tweet published in The Guardian merely because she agreed with Murray. She has notoriety and a platform because, though everything she writes is badly expressed and derivative, she is a transwoman who supports transphobes. The BBC said “we have reminded [Murray] that presenters should remain impartial on controversial topics covered by their BBC programmes,” and that set off another round of pearl-clutching.

A year later, Murray was going to speak at an Oxford University event called “Powerful British women in history and society”. The student LGBTQ campaign objected, saying “The decision to offer her a platform is not apolitical or neutral, especially when her views cause tangible harm to vulnerable members of our society.” She pulled out. Murray did not comment, but the BBC quoted her as previously saying she was “not transphobic”. The usual suspects got all outraged about The Threat to Free Speech.

And now Murray is retiring from Woman’s Hour and The Guardian’s retrospective of her career brings up the “controversy” about her article. What do we get from that paragraph? Twice the phrase “real women” in scare quotes. A quote from Murray about “the most vicious, vulgar and threatening debate of our day”. Then these words:

The response was swift, with the campaigns director of Stonewall condemning her views as hurtful. She was then forced to pull out of an Oxford University talk following a backlash over her comments.

That is, reading this article you get the impression that Murray suffered because she commented about trans women. What happened is that Murray incited that “decent, ordinary” flavour of transphobia which encourages the extremist transphobes. Then there were endless articles, casually or shockingly transphobic, seeking clicks from controversy or outrage, and dull little twitterspats. Phobes were encouraged. Trans women were bullied and hurt.

8 November 2020: Murray was interviewed in The Times, and quoted saying nasty things about trans women, mainly from a position of ignorance, lack of interest, and disdain. It’s as before, common transphobia with only a little of the insane hatred of the driven anti-trans campaigners.

She complained of threats following her 2017 article, of rape and murder. They are revolting. However, I do not make such threats. Please do not use them against me and my rights. Then she calls trans women “men in skirts”. “She is confident that 99.9% of the Woman’s Hour audience agrees with her.” Well, people with vile opinions tend to think others agree, it’s how they live with themselves. It’s like “I’m not racist but”. I find a lot of acceptance. Then she claimed “I knew more about [the Gender Recognition Act] than anyone else”. She thought young women being trans allies, which refutes her 99.9% figure, “bizarre”. She said “Who would want to choose to be an often unattractive middle aged woman when they don’t have to be?… it all seems a bit odd to me.” She normalises incomprehension and disdain. When encouraged by transphobe outlets like The Times, Murray will pop up from time to time, spouting transphobia.

11 May 2022: Murray now has a column in the Daily Mail, where she wrote that “woman” means “adult biological female”- so, not people with variations in sex characteristics– and only women menstruate or give birth, so trans men don’t, or don’t exist, or something she does not spell out. There’s a war on women, she says, mentioning abortion in the US- I agree- but she gives as much space to quibbling about trans people as to abortion.

Naomi Hersi

Content: murder. Who was Naomi Hersi?

Naomi Hersi was a woman. The photo on that page shows her Black, smiling, beautiful, vibrant. It’s a good photo. She lived in Mill Hill, North West London.

You can read about her brutal murder, that she was “openly transgender”, what her “legal name” (that is, male name) was. You can read the words of her murderer given in evidence at his trial: “I felt open-minded, liberal-minded”. All sorts of details. Here you can read about her dead body. She was in no position to respond to her killer’s attack. Ms Hersi’s family described her as a “sweet and trusting” person who was “funny and carefree”. “Our lives will never be the same. The grief has swallowed us up. It’s consumed us. Maybe one day it will not be so painful but the violence of [the] death haunts us,” her father said. Did the BBC use “[the]” to cover up “his”? I don’t know.

This article, on the woman who tried to help her killer evade justice, and got a suspended sentence and 150 hours of community service, includes the murderer’s description of Miss Hersi, which I do not believe.

So much for the BBC. MTV had a documentary entitled “The Body in the Bathroom: The Murder of Naomi Hersi”. The photo of her there is of her, still alive, and by coincidence with a red patch on the wall behind her head.

After the conviction The Independent reported her “legal name” and that she was an “openly transgender woman”. It reported that her murderer (whose photo, often repeated, is not attractive) “was a former grade A student”. The link is “transgender-murder-sex-drugs-[killer’s name]-naomi-hersi-heathrow-airport”. Almost at the end of the article, it quotes a detective inspector saying she “will be much missed by all those who knew her, especially by her family”. Someone from the Crown Prosecution Service said her death was “tragic”.

The Mirror headline is “Web of lies that snared university drop-out for murder of transgender woman”. The page starts with a video from Channel 5, “The Body in the Bathroom”, then invites the reader to subscribe to “free email alerts from Mirror – Celebs”. The murderer was “a gifted tennis player”. There are three images of Miss Hersi, captioned “(Image: Naomi Hersi)”- the one with the coincidental red stain, and one with her presenting male. There is a long account of the murderer’s lies, and nothing about Miss Hersi at all. Of her family, the Mirror says, “their grief still goes on”.

After the murderer was sentenced, The Guardian published the same unattractive photo of him, and a Press Association report. She was 36. There is one of her photos: the caption again describes her as “sweet and trusting”. The murderer mixed fact and fiction, disregarding anyone but himself. Miss Hersi’s sister is a “hospital doctor”- Registrar? Consultant? Junior doctor? Her father said the grief has “consumed us”. The murderer had been at the LSE but his “promising academic career” was cut short.

The Sun reported on the sentencing of the murderer’s girlfriend. It described Miss Hersi as the murderer’s “transgender lover”. There is nothing about Miss Hersi at all, just about the murderer, his girlfriend who believed his lies until their trial and then had a breakdown, the murder, and how Miss Hersi met the murderer, on a “dating app”.

The Press and Journal of Aberdeen, famed for the “Aberdeen Man Lost at Sea” headline reporting the Titanic sinking, has a tag page for “Naomi Hersi” but no articles now tagged.

I thought the Daily Mail had interviewed her sister Amina, but it appears they only watched “The Body in the Bathroom”. The article refers to Naomi as “he” and by her male name, shows her photo presenting male, and describes the murder in detail. Naomi never showed herself to her sister: she only saw her presenting male. If Amina said anything about what Naomi was like as a person, the film or the Mail don’t consider that worth recounting. Perhaps that’s a good thing: if Amina had only seen her sister presenting male, Naomi had not really shown who she was.

So much for the mainstream media.

A week after the murder, Stonewall commented “Media coverage of Naomi Hersi’s death is a disgrace”. It wrote of the abuse trans people suffer, but nothing about Miss Hersi. Galop, the LGBT+ anti-violence charity, issued a statement on the press coverage of Naomi Hersi. “The media reporting may be unsettling for trans communities…. We are here if you have been affected.”

I had not heard of Fumble, “Your handy guide to sex”. It has a large headline “Black Trans Lives Matter”. It says “It’s time we listened and believed the voices of the trans community”. It then quotes the start of Travis Alabanza’s article in Gal-Dem, a news site with Black women and non-binary journalists. This is that article. As a black nonbinary person Travis apologises to Miss Hersi, that things happened to her that happen to other Black TGV (Trans and Gender Variant) people.

Travis reports “This killing hits particularly hard”. The Times, which reports the most trivial thing if it can make trans people look bad, did not report the murder. They write searingly of anti-blackness: would there be a similar silence for a white trans woman with class privileges? As I said, I am glad I am that trans woman. I am not dead. I say it because it is true: I am not trying to be nice, I just could not bear the additional discrimination. From her still visible Twitter, Travis found out that Miss Hersi was “a tennis enthusiast, a music lover and a chocolate addict”.

Research Naomi Hersi, they said. After an hour and the top twenty articles my Google search finds for her name, I know she was sweet and funny, trusting and carefree, a tennis enthusiast, music lover and chocolate addict, that she at least once used a “dating app”, and that she lived to age 36. I know a bit about her murderer, and her murderer’s deluded accomplice, and a lot about his lies and the crime. I have seen the lovely photographs, and that’s all I know of Naomi Hersi. There may be a tribute on line to Naomi Hersi the person, describing her joys and dreams, but I have not found it. Instead there are reports of the crime and the murderer’s attempts to get off.

Lower down the google rankings, Isabelle Ehiorobo anatomises how the murderer’s story plays on transphobic and racist tropes to portray Naomi as a threat. Sometimes such “Bad Victim” tactics result in acquittal. I look at Isabelle’s photo, see she is Black, think she might be trans, and wish it was a white cis bloke explaining these things, that we did not have to explain them to people, fearing we were not believed. There was a lot of evidence against the murderer, such as the lack of defensive wounds on either party, indicating he had surprised her, and she had no chance to defend herself; and there was CCTV of them together. Without that evidence, might he have got off with it?

Trans women in sport

Does anyone transition in order to have an unfair advantage in sport? No. Trans women transition because we are women, because the difference between presenting male and expressing female is the difference between living life in monochrome and in colour. This does not stop the anti-trans movement from complaining about us. The complaints show transphobia at work.

In 2015 the International Olympic Committee sought to guarantee fair competition, and accepted that surgery was not necessary for that. The athlete must declare herself to be female, which cannot be reversed for four years, and show her testosterone levels were below 10nmol/L (290 ng/dl) for at least 12 months before her first competition and throughout her period competing. Longer periods of reduced testosterone may be required by medical authorities on a case by case basis. Normal levels are 240-950 ng/dl in males, 8-60 in females. In 2018 the IOC were set to halve that level to 5nmol/L, or 145 ng/dl, but apparently didn’t.

In high levels of sports, trans women are underrepresented. That shows that the sociological disadvantages we suffer outweigh any physical advantages. There are physical advantages in size, but in boxing where there are weight categories a trans woman is not going to be bigger than a cis woman competitor.

I write this because of Hadley Freeman’s column today. She minimises the Olympic criterion, “to have been reducing testosterone for twelve months”- actually, it is to have reduced the level. Martina Navratilova started the current publicity, though I have heard angry opposition to trans women in sports long before then. When she was in competition, she faced terrific homophobic abuse: one headline read “Martina turns girls into gays”.

Hadley Freeman claims to be persecuted, that all the coverage is for the trans women. The media, terrified of being on the wrong side of history, responded predictably, and headlines said that Navratilova was “criticised over ‘cheating’ trans women comments”. There are some pro-trans articles. But the Times, predictably, wrote “Male bodies do not belong in women’s sport”- however much we reduce testosterone- and the Spectator risibly said “Women’s sports may one day soon consist entirely of men”. The Mirror quoted India Willoughby, a trans woman, saying trans women should not compete in women’s events. While Susanna Reid was “nervous” talking about the subject because she was worried that she would get the wording wrong, swimmer Sharron Davies said You’re still doing to have those advantages.. a lot of people are saying, come on we’re not transphobic but we need to support female athletes too.

Ooh, aren’t all these anti-trans campaigners brave? India Willoughby said LGB at the moment is more like the KGB in that no alternative opinion is allowed. Yet here they are, in the Mirror, Times, Guardian and Spectator mocking, belittling and monstering trans women.

The Telegraph announced, As Martina Navratilova has discovered, trans activists have won the debate – but lost the public. The West is now in a state of psychological civil war, a war between opposing realities. Consider what happens when a man becomes a woman, enters a women’s sporting event and takes the gold. To the trans activist, this is a natural and beautiful thing: the athlete is competing in the right category and it’s a win for equality. To many feminists, it’s a reversal of equality. The trans athlete may be taller and stronger than the other competitors – they are, said the tennis champion Martina Navratilova, “cheating”.

Um. The transphobes continually claim to be an oppressed minority, even when backed by Rupert Murdoch and the Barclay brothers, even when writing in the Guardian.

I am sorry that I am quoting the transphobes so much here. My next post goes on to the question whether trans women should be included in women’s sports. I argue that we should, with no requirement of a particular testosterone level; and say why.

Do not worry about transphobes

How much attention should you pay to transphobia? Very little.

There is street transphobia. It’s weird to think that someone who has never met you and has no knowledge of what you are like as a person really hates you. You are a symbol for him of all he despises. The worst last year for me screamed at me that he would kill me. Well, maybe he was having a bad day. Yes, there are people like that. They rarely do you actual harm. You need to know they exist, but should pay no attention at all to the details of their abuse.

What prompted this post was an article in the Daily Telegraph, which was shared in a trans group on facebook. Church of England’s plan for transgender baptisms outrages bishops was the headline. Well, the Telegraph is a transphobic publication, so when it reports on transphobia it exaggerates it. There are two errors in the headline. Some bishops support the measure, so it should say “Some” bishops are outraged, rather than implying all are. The other error is that no-one has proposed transgender baptisms. More than half the population of England has been baptised, and the ceremony is a reaffirmation of baptismal vows. No church will rebaptise people. If the headline is filled with error, the article will be too.

In fact “ten” bishops “criticised” the ceremony. Few bishops would confess to “outrage” in public. There are 41 diocesan bishops and around 75 “suffragan” or assistant bishops, so a tiny minority has condemned it. Analyse the article, and you see the transphobia is less widespread than the writer would want you to think. The writer makes a desperate attempt to list all the transphobes to make it sound like they are important, but his scrabbling shows how few they really are. They include John Fenwick, a bishop of the Free Church of England. I hadn’t heard of that, so googled it: it split off in 1844 and has nineteen congregations in England.

I mean really. Should you care what John Fenwick thinks? Of course not.

Haters gonna hate. The Telegraph wants its readers to hate trans people, and that is a bad thing. So does the Times, as both are hard-Right publications busily dehumanising various hate groups. Oh, and the Daily Mail, but you knew that. The risk with reading the Telegraph article is that it might discourage you. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid”. It’s full of detail, and if you read the detail and the various horrible things transphobes say, they appear more significant than they actually are. People get assaulted for being trans. We get mocked and vilified going about our ordinary lives. Most people are not like that. They don’t care. You will encounter prejudice, but mostly you will be able to live your life.

Sometimes it is worth checking out the nuances. Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, said: “The church should be compassionate and sensitive towards those who experience gender dysphoria, but its fundamental teaching must be based on a revealed truth and objective biology and its relation to social structure.”

Compassionate and sensitive. That is a clear rebuke to those who would express or foment “outrage”. That journalist made a ranty headline, and from ignorance quoted the answer to his bigotry at the end of the article. “Objective biology” sounds pretty rejectionist- saying trans women are “biological males” or something- but I see a glimmer of hope in the words “its relation to social structure”. Socially, I am a woman. He does not merely discount me. He recognises social structure is relevant. Biology is not a complete answer.

There are transphobes about, but there are allies. They will encourage you and make you feel better. When you feel better you will be more motivated and better able to take action. Perhaps Pink News should take that into consideration: many of its December articles on trans have been “Help help the sky is falling” articles about transphobia. Indonesian city Padang using exorcisms to “cure” queer people. Um. The most positive stories are Miss Universe pays tribute to Angela Ponce. The winner, Ashley Graham, said She’s smart, driven, beautiful…and nothing short of extraordinary. Well, yes. I find beauty contests problematic, but I am pleased with the final Peace-and-Love message. We need more of that. And Transgender boxer Pat Manuel has his first professional win. Half positive: a school teacher was suspended for telling trans boy “You freak me out”. Yes he was a transphobic bully: and the school dealt with him.

Don’t pay too much attention to the transphobes. There will always be transphobes. You will still find ways to achieve your aims and succeed as the person you really are. I have just not been taking my own advice, reading a boring and stupid Times article, which refers to “a powerful trans lobby”. I am glad they are trying to terrify their own side. Imagine poor little transphobes, terrified of expressing their bigotry.