A new mood is sweeping the trans community. A Stonewall mood. A time-for-fightback mood. And while this will, no doubt, be mocked and ignored by the national press until such time as it issues into direct action that they can condemn as ill-considered and extreme, I would politely suggest that such ignorance is no longer a safe option.
Not, that is, unless they wish to find themselves on the receiving end of action of the sort that took place in New Zealand last week – when angry trans activists swept into the offices of a local newspaper in protest at the transphobia of self-professed ignoramus, Rosemary McLeod.
She admitted to being a “bit lost” when writing about this issue. Still, that didn’t stop her from producing a piece containing factual error, weighing in against trans “ego-trippers” in the public spotlight.
Remind me, someone: just what is Ms McLeod’s job? Ah: newspaper columnist. Nothing ego-trippy about that!
Protesters were equally unimpressed when the newspaper editor put her hands up in mock shock and pretended it was nothing to do with her.
But this is par for the course, as anyone who opened a UK paper in the past week will be well aware. There’s been a succession of stories, riddled with inaccuracy, that make sense only if you write from the perspective of having not a clue about everyday trans narratives.
The trans five-year old (its all the parents’ fault!).
The trans man giving birth (she’s not a “real” man!).
The paddy power ad (hey folks: let’s play “spot the tranny!”)
Political correctness gone mad! (pretty much anything that disturbs the day-to-day morality of the big beast editors).
Its sickening. It contributes directly to violence against trans men and women. But that’s OK. Its freedom of expression, which we ALL believe in don’t we? And anyway, who do these trannies think they are?
So I’ll make three short important points
Trans activism – a long list of battle honours
The single most important moment in US gay activism, by many accounts, was the Stonewall riots in June 1969. Important, because they marked the point at which people said: enough!
The moment people turned on police who had been regularly and violently abusing them and fought back.
And despite continuing debate about exactly who took part, who “led”, what is not broadly disputed is the significant part played by the local trans community. We have a history of going so far – and no further.
May ’68 – February ’12: forty-four years, and Paris still ablaze
Second, is a beautiful piece by activist and journalist, Paris Lees.
We may not always agree on the finer points of strategy: but on this I agree with her wholly. We have entered the third phase. “They” are no longer ignoring, no longer mocking: those who have no time for diversity are now openly fighting back, seeking to denigrate. Trying their hardest to put the trans “perversion” back in its box.
They may have a shock in store. For the trans community is bigger, more confident, less willing to buckle than ever before. The community, together with allies across the LGBI spectrum has a voice far louder than its critics’ worst nightmares.
From what I am hearing, on forums, on bulletin boards, it can only be a matter of time before that voice turns to calls for real action.
No surprise that some of the fastest growth, in recent years has been by direct action organisations such as Trans Panthers – or that in New Zealand it was a group called the Queer Avengers that challenged the bigotry of their local press.
Where will it all end? Will Trans women be throwing themselves under the riders at Cheltenham on March 14? Or occupying the foyer of news international? Who knows? In the end, as with Stonewall, the explosion, if it comes, is as likely to be triggered by some outwardly trivial event, as some masterly piece of backroom plotting.
As Paris observes: change is possible. Change is coming. But in the end, only you can make it happen.