All things considered, I should be a Tigger, bouncing around with excitement and driving everybody around me up the wall. But I’m not. Instead, every day feels like a slog and it’s getting harder and harder to stay positive. And that’s because every single day since I came out as trans, I’ve been subject to a war of attrition waged against trans people by bigots and their friends in the press.
That’s over six years now. Six years of the same old slurs, the same old “just asking questions”, the same long-debunked statistics and long-debunked talking points. And yet it never stops. Just yesterday, The Observer let Sonia Sodha write her weekly column about how anything bad in the news – in this case, the police arresting republican protesters at the Coronation – is all the fault of trans people. It’d be funny if it weren’t a weekly occurrence not just in the Observer but in pretty much every other paper too.
Just to remind Carrie what Ms. Sodha actually said about trans:
Take, for example, the egregious way the police have clamped down on the free speech of those who express the “gender critical” belief, protected in equalities law, that sex is binary, immutable and relevant in society. The police should be scrupulously neutral on this. Yet in recent years they have adopted the controversial position of campaigners who believe that gender identity can replace sex altogether – that being a woman is not a biological reality but instead about conforming to feminine stereotypes or a matter of inner identity, and that it is somehow “hateful” to deviate from this view.
That has led them to warn off citizens from making lawful political statements. Former policeman Harry Miller was visited by a police officer as a result of his tweets – mostly “opaque, profane or unsophisticated”, according to a judge, but well within his rights to post. There are plenty of other examples: one woman recorded herself being berated by a police community support officer for having a sticker “trans ideology erases women” in her window. A feminist activist was arrested and detained in custody for 12 hours by Gwent police on suspicion of displaying “threatening or abusive writing” after reports she had put up stickers including slogans such as “no men in women’s prisons” and “humans never change sex”. Police raided her home and, extraordinarily, confiscated a gender critical book, presumably as evidence of “wrongthink”. There are also cases of the police taking to social media to berate people for their gender critical perspectives, such as when Sussex police reprimanded someone on Twitter for saying that a convicted paedophile who identifies as a woman is biologically male, declaring: “Sussex Police do not tolerate any hateful comments towards their gender identity.”
This is not OK. Miller taking the police to court has given judges the opportunity to make this clear. “In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or Stasi,” the high court warned in relation to his case. The courts ruled in 2021 that both the specific police action against Miller and the College of Policing guidance used to justify it were unlawful.
This guidance tells police forces to record as non-crime hate incidents anything – including social media posts – reported to the police that is perceived by the person reporting to be motivated by hostility, including “unfriendliness”. It is wide open to manipulation by those looking to threaten people they disagree with into silence, and by police officers who wrongly believe it is transphobic to think that sex is real and immutable.
Back to Carrie:
I’ve written many times that the line between anti-trans and anti-semite is often very blurry; some of the highest profile members of the anti-trans movement, and some of the highest profile anti-trans books, claim that “transgenderism” is a Jewish conspiracy. So it’s worth reminding ourselves of Sartre’s comments about anti-semites
Two years ago, half of police forces paid the charity Stonewall – whose chief executive has outrageously compared gender-critical belief to antisemitism – for diversity training. Yet freedom of information requests reveal that many police forces are not properly training their officers on the law on free speech, and there are many examples of the police stating the law incorrectly to the public.
You know, it might not be what the newspapers are printing, or journalists writing. It could be the way Carrie’s reading it all.