I’ve just been reading the Facebook comments on one recent appearance by a trans person on national media – and I can’t say they fill me with any enthusiasm in advance of my own (and my daughter’s) up-and-coming appearance on ITV’s DayBreak show this Thursday.
For while some are supportive, many are utterly, absolutely vile, raising, once again, a big question around the basic humanity – or even sanity – of some of those posting.
What’s the problem? Well, last week, following revelations that a child of 5 has been diagnosed as dysphoric, the press were full of froth, mostly along the lines of “that’s too young to know” and “it must be the fault of the parents”. That is pretty much all bollocks. Ignorant bollocks. Malicious bollocks.
Because if the press had one ounce of the sort of intelligence and investigative zeal that they claim justifies their privileged position as the “Fourth estate”, they would know those are non-issues.
Too soon? Too soon for what?
Here is a child suffering in some way. The best available diagnosis is that they are dysphoric and therefore it would be kinder to allow them to express their gender identity publically and at school.
Are they being “treated”? No. Or at least, no more than any child of that age that presented with a history of self-harm might be “treated”. And what is the alternative? Do nothing – until they present at hospital with blood gushing from a severed artery?
All that is being asked is that the child’s self-identity be respected until such time as they are old enough to assert it legally – and that respect extend to no bullying, no playground name-calling just for being themselves.
My! You’d think the nation was being asked to approve compulsory homosexualisationification!
A dignified appearance
Following the froth, ITV’s this morning invited Sacha Brown and her ten-year-old daughter, “Livvy” to debate the issue with self-opinionated columnist and proto-reactionary Anne Atkins.
The latter also “identifies as” Christian: but this is plain nonsense. If you weren’t born Christian, of course, you just aren’t…and in Ms Atkins case, it is clear that however much she puts on a Christian dress in the morning, she ain’t!
Cue an interesting debate, in which Ms A quoted some totally bizarre statistics (she’d met 6 trans folk and they weren’t happy: 50% of trans persons regretted their decision): and Sacha, apart from a few terse moments, calmly despatched each and every assertion that emerged from the Atkins’ lips. Then, the coup de grace: Livvy was invited to comment and she delivered an absolute gem.
Ms Atkins, she suggested, had no idea what it was like to be dysphoric: her claim that liking to dress as a boy for a couple of years at age 8 gave her insight into the condition of dysphoria was utter nonsense; and she should just butt out. I paraphrase. Still, out of the mouths of babes, and all that…
The viewers didn’t wholly buy that. Their “opinion worm” shifted ever so slightly upward to 36% in favour of young transition, 64% against. But it was on the comments boards that the vileness began.
Filth and profanity
I’m not really going to dignify the filth by repeating what was said: you can go read it like the rest of us, if you like (the thread went up at 8.28 on 22 February).
Though I’ll pick up on one point: the constant jealous carping…that Saffron and Livvy must be doing this for the publicity…the MONEY! Like, yeah: you’d inflict this on your child – the years and years of pain and heartache – for maybe a couple of thousand quid. Do people realise much of this TV appearance stuff is unpaid or expenses only?
No. Livvy and her mum were offered the devil’s bargain, as many of us in the public eye (myself included on occasion, though thankfully not for the ITV documentary) are given. Sign up and let us write about you officially (and smile, pretty please, while we rape your privacy): or don’t sign up, we’ll write anyway; but we’ll base the story on every teeny ounce of salubrious tittle tattle we can find to print about you. Choice? Not really.
But in the end, the thing that makes me most ashamed, most worried about the reaction of commentators was, quite simply, this. What business is a lot of this of theirs’? And, more to the point, what sort of people are they, to believe it is ever acceptable to be so nasty..casting aspersions and making insinuations they have no basis for making.
What IS it about the human condition that leads some people to think that they can know intimately why someone else acts the way they do, that they have right to pronounce on others, and that they are entitled to do so in ways that can do little other than hurt and reduce to tears?
I don’t…I really don’t get it. Although then, I was brung up Catholic and, as many others have commented from that neck of the woods, a fundamental tenet of that religion – inspired by a woman accused of what, in New Testament times was considered a particularly heinous crime – is “let he that is without sin cast the first stone”.
Some of the commenters would do well to remember that.