Monday, 14 January 2013

Transsexuals should cut it out

Below is the text from the Julie Birchill article that the Guardian/Observer thought fit to remove after an outcry from the Left. I happened to still have the tab open before it was pulled. You can still see a Google cached version at the time of writing but suspect that will disappear shortly:

It's never a good idea for those who feel oppressed to start bullying others in turn.

The brilliant writer Suzanne Moore and I go back a long way. I first met her when she was a young single mother living in a council flat; she took me out to interview me about my novel Ambition (republished by Corvus Books this spring, since you ask) for dear dead City Limits magazine. "I've got an entertaining budget of £12.50!" she said proudly. "Sod that, we're having lobster and champagne at Frederick's and I'm paying," I told her. Half a bottle of Bolly later, she looked at me with faraway eyes: "Ooo, I could get to like this…" And so she did.

I have observed her rise to the forefront of this country's great polemicists with a whole lot of pride – and just a tiny bit of envy. I am godmother to her three brilliant, beautiful daughters. Though we differ on certain issues we will have each other's backs until the sacred cows come home.

With this in mind, I was incredulous to read that my friend was being monstered on Twitter, to the extent that she had quit it, for supposedly picking on a minority – transsexuals. Though I imagine it to be something akin to being savaged by a dead sheep, as Denis Healey had it of Geoffrey Howe, 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.

Here's what happened. In a book of essays called Red: The Waterstones Anthology, Suzanne contributed a piece about women's anger. She wrote that, among other things, women were angry about "not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual". Rather than join her in decrying the idea that every broad should aim to look like an oven-ready porn star, the very vociferous transsexual lobby and their grim groupies picked on the messenger instead.

I must say that my only experience of the trans lobby thus far was hearing about the vile way they have persecuted another of my friends, the veteran women's rights and anti-domestic violence activist Julie Bindel – picketing events where she is speaking about such minor issues as the rape of children and the trafficking of women just because she refuses to accept that their relationship with their phantom limb is the most pressing problem that women – real and imagined – are facing right now.

Similarly, Suzanne's original piece was about the real horror of the bigger picture – how the savagery of a few old Etonians is having real, ruinous effects on the lives of the weakest members of our society, many of whom happen to be women. The reaction of the trans lobby reminded me very much of those wretched inner-city kids who shoot another inner-city kid dead in a fast-food shop for not showing them enough "respect". Ignore the real enemy – they're strong and will need real effort and organisation to fight. How much easier to lash out at those who are conveniently close to hand!

But they'd rather argue over semantics. To be fair, after having one's nuts taken off (see what I did there?) by endless decades in academia, it's all most of them are fit to do. Educated beyond all common sense and honesty, it was a hoot to see the screaming mimis accuse Suze of white feminist privilege; it may have been this that made her finally respond in the subsequent salty language she employed to answer her Twitter critics: "People can just fuck off really. Cut their dicks off and be more feminist than me. Good for them."

She, the other JB and I are part of the minority of women of working-class origin to make it in what used to be called Fleet Street and I think this partly contributes to the stand-off with the trannies. (I know that's a wrong word, but having recently discovered that their lot describe born women as 'Cis' – sounds like syph, cyst, cistern; all nasty stuff – they're lucky I'm not calling them shemales. Or shims.) We know that everything we have we got for ourselves. 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.

It's been noted before that cyberspace, though supposedly all new and shiny, is plagued by the age-old boredom of men telling women not to talk and threatening them with all kinds of nastiness if they persist in saying what they feel.

The trans lobby is now saying that it wasn't so much the initial piece as Suzanne's refusal to apologise when told to that "made" them drive her from Twitter. Presumably she is meant to do this in the name of solidarity and the "struggle", though I find it very hard to imagine this mob struggling with anything apart from the English language and the concept of free speech.

To have your cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women – above natural-born women, who don't know the meaning of suffering, apparently – is a bit like the old definition of chutzpah: the boy who killed his parents and then asked the jury for clemency on the grounds he was an orphan.

Shims, shemales, whatever you're calling yourselves these days – don't threaten or bully us lowly natural-born women, I warn you. We may not have as many lovely big swinging Phds as you, but we've experienced a lifetime of PMT and sexual harassment and many of us are now staring HRT and the menopause straight in the face – and still not flinching. Trust me, you ain't seen nothing yet. You really won't like us when we're angry.


  1. wow. what a piece of crap masquerading as journalism. the irony is that while suzanne original argument had merit, it was overshadowed by the use of an ill-thought out metaphor. and now julie has made things worse by using a national platform to just be the bigger playground bully. in her own words "The reaction of the trans lobby reminded me very much of those wretched inner-city kids who shoot another inner-city kid dead in a fast-food shop for not showing them enough "respect". Ignore the real enemy – they're strong and will need real effort and organisation to fight. How much easier to lash out at those who are conveniently close to hand!" indeed. how much easier to fight amongst ourselves, all women (natural born or identifying as)than unite in strength and face the real enemy, oppression, assault, rape, hyper sexualisation, sex slavery, ineqaulity.

  2. What pathetic bullshit of an article. I'm very glad The Guardian got rid of it and apologized. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with this woman? Self-esteem issues? I can't see any other reason to lash out at transsexuals. "Supposedly picking at a minority"? Well, I'm sorry, they are a minority. For f's sake, change all 'transsexuals' in the article to 'blacks', 'asians' or anything of the like. How does it read now?

    'Shims, shemales, whatever you're calling yourselves these days – don't threaten or bully us lowly natural-born women, I warn you.' - 8th grade bully, anyone? Where on earth did she get the idea that transsexuals are bullying her? Damn.

    In fact, reducing the issue of transsexuality to just having the 'ideal body' is stupid and degrading.

  3. well..... definately would not call this an article... more like a rant/ get your feelings out that you don't let anyone see and burn shortly after rereading silently to yourself... i am a cis female person myself but certainly would never have anything published or even allow myself to think in this way... nastiness directed at nastiness doesn't make anything nice... the transsexual community may not have reacted so aggressively in the first place if there was a disclaimer "for satires's sake" or some thing.... but preferably saying something other than using a identity for pete's sake... then again what satirical things can you say nowadays without offending anyone? (slut shaming, misogyny, [insert here]phobic, man hating??)

  4. Brilliant, as per usual from Birchill. I saw the viciousness of the mob attack on Moore via Twitter, it was disgusting. She's right, they have been over educated into being useless pricks. White feminist privilege? Fuck off and go do another college course in how to become a victim.

  5. Stop fighting. There is a lot more going on in this world than a stupid mud slinging exercise. Everybody has a right to live their life. You might not like how they do it but at least respect human dignity. Trans and real women face different forms of prejudice just like Christian, Muslims and Jews not to mention people of a different colour. If this world is to improve then respect and try to understand the differences.

  6. Great article - I agree with everything she said.