I shall get in trouble for this, I know. But hey! One can’t be Little Miss Popular ALL the time.. . espesh not when you reckon that the general view on a subject is ever so slightly mis-guided.
And why we shouldn’t be surprised by how “reasonable” some papers formerly regarded as transphobic are becoming.
So. Whisper it low, but: I don’t regard the Daily Mail as some calculatedly reactionary anti-tranny rag. There: i’ve said it.
Does that mean the girl is now officially a cheerleader for the folks down at Northcliffe House? Er, no. And before there is much rejoicing and a breaking out of newsdesk bubbly, i’d better explain that in some ways, i think they – and pretty much all newspapers – are much, much worse than that.
The reality is: most journalists – myself included – are little more than tarts. We’ll screw most subjects for the right fee, the only distinguishing feature being where we draw the line (“sorry sir: you can come in now… but the goat will have to wait outside”).
The mistake starts with the idea that newspapers are anything much to do with “news”…or even “accuracy”. Of course they aren’t.
They are simply offline forums: places where people who share a particular world view gather for mutual re-inforcement. Symbiosis.
It would be nice to think that the aim is a balanced reporting of “facts”…but given the times i’ve been told off for worrying about such trivia (often by highly respected editors), the lesson – the reality – is that the gold standard is not some abstract “truth”..but the ability to “stand up” a story. By which is meant: find someone not visibly demented and prepared to give credence to a fact, opinion or interpretation.
The Mail IS its readers: a particular small-c conservative slice of middle england. It is anti-Europe, anti-scrounger, anti-political correctness and in favour of “British values”, whatever those are.
Is this some quixotic stand they take in defiance of their left-leaning crypto-commie readers? Or – and we know this in our hearts – are those not precisely the views of the vast majority of their audience?
Against that, the trouble, i’d suggest, with their reporting of trans issues has been twofold. Along with most of Fleet St, the single most common story until recently has been “Unlikely stereotype male changes sex”.
Whoooeee! Those are freakshow stories, driven by a lack of consideration and respect. Who cared – until Trans Media Watch told them – that they might be mis-gendering, humiliating or exposing the subject of the story to future violence? The press reports and moves on, wholly unconcerned with the chaos it leaves behind.
However, as trans becomes more commonplace, the range of stories expands. Which is why the surprising – to some activists – empathy occasionally shown. Mostly, increasingly, the press (including the Mail) are all ooo! and ah! and cutesy about stories of trans children.
Why wouldn’t they be? The subjects DON’T look like truckers…are obviously happy…and the narrative usually includes reference to bullying, which pulls readers toward the trans side of things.
Too, a lot of these stories get covered by the women’s pages, pretty much guaranteeing a more sympathetic angle to any child-centred story.
Then there’s stories like that last week…some awful murdering psycho, now residing for the foreseeable future “at Her Majesty’s Pleasure” has the effrontery to demand the right to transition.
This presses two hot buttons for the readers. Its “political correctness gone mad”, innit? And its some undeserving scrounger getting taxpayer money, whilst deserving pensioners freeze.
Don’t get mad – get clever
What’s the point? Simply this: the press have never been our enemies. No. Far worse: they don’t really care.
As the trans narrrative becomes more widely exposed, they will take on board a range of different stock stories… will develop new clichés for dealing with them.
We, in turn, need to be cleverer than just having a pop at any tabloid that sticks its head over the horizon. Let’s welcome the positive: and understand that there are stories about our community that are all-too-easily spun negative…and start looking for the ammunition to defuse those.