The last day of March marks the International Transgender Day of Visibility, which must be in contention for most redundant event in the calendar. Some readers might be of the opinion that a few days of transgender invisibility might be more timely.
As a transgender person, I am tempted to agree. When I transitioned eight years ago the goal was to assimilate back into society, and with the minimum of fuss. Occasional stories did reach the press but, while there was passing interest, they were never high up the news agenda.
While the increased visibility cannot be denied, some people are now claiming that transphobia is taking over the nation. In an astonishing opinion piece for the New York Times earlier this week, Juliet Jacques announced that Transphobia is Everywhere in Britain.
Sir, As transsexual people we are dismayed by the escalation in harassment, threats and abuse directed at women and women’s groups in the name of “transgender rights activism” (“Trans lobby sent me death threats, claims professor”, Dec 6). In the past few years violent rhetoric on social media has spilt over into real life too often. After the harassment of Julie Bindel and the Working Class Movement Library, the physical assault on Maria Maclachlan and the recent use of “masked-up” tactics at a feminist meeting in Bristol, we are horrified by the intimidation and abuse directed at the human rights expert Rosa Freedman.
The furore surrounding Julie Bindel’s invitation to speak at the Working Class Movement Library during LGBT History Month rumbles on, and competing petitions have now amassed hundreds of signatures. Frances Donnelly demanded that “Bindel is not given a platform at an alleged ‘LGBT’ event.” In contrast, Catherine Costello welcomed the invitation and seeks to counteract the damage being done to the Working Class Movement Library, its funding and reputation. At the time of writing [21 January 2017], Costello’s petition leads by 1917 to 564. Appeals to popularity do not provide the best support for arguments but the two petitions reveal seemingly intractable divisions between LGBTQ+ people, with significant numbers holding strong feelings on both sides.