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CIF and Transphobia: Julie Burchill

I know one shouldn’t feed trolls – but what is the Observer playing at?  In case people haven’t followed the saga, here is some background.  In a recent article Suzanne Moore made a throwaway reference to women being expected to attain the body shape of Brazilian transsexuals.  Several commenters objected to this remark, partly because Brazilian transsexuals face particularly high levels of violence and abuse. As is noted here, Moore did then seem rather to compound the problem in some subsequent tweets.

Transsexuals often face hostility and discrimination.  A former colleague of mine was ‘outed’ as a transsexual and faced wounding criticism from another (high profile) colleague in the media. Dru successfully won a case for constructive dismissal against her employers following bullying at work. Violence is also a major problem – according to this report 114 transexuals were killed in Brazil last year.

I don’t suppose Suzanne Moore intended to upset transsexuals when she made her initial passing comment – but Julie Burchill, in her response to the affair, clearly does:

I nevertheless felt indignant that a woman of such style and substance should be driven from her chosen mode of time-wasting by a bunch of dicks in chicks’ clothing.

To my mind – I have given cool-headed consideration to the matter – a gaggle of transsexuals telling Suzanne Moore how to write looks a lot like how I’d imagine the Black and White Minstrels telling Usain Bolt how to run would look. That rude and ridic.

The logic here seems simultaneously incomprehensible and offensive.

She goes on to suggest that transsexuals should stop fretting over semantics and join forces to combat the real problem, government cuts.  This is the same kind of logic used to shut feminists up, and it seems a shame that supposed feminists are employing it to belittle the concerns of another oppressed group.

The hatred and hostility here is just incredible:

We have no family money, no safety net. And we are damned if we are going to be accused of being privileged by a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs.

Although I’m sure this piece will incite more anger against Julie Burchill than against transsexuals – should it really have been published at all?