Tag Archives: julie burchill

Dear Julie Burchill

ETA: I just realised I didn’t link to the piece. It’s here. Go give it some sunlight.

Sorry for the really inconsistent tone; I try to stay level and dry but I burn through my anti-snark reserves fast on this shit.

“It’s never a good idea for those who feel oppressed to start bullying others in turn”

I agree. However, it is generally a good idea for those who feel oppressed to express their anger at their oppressors, or were you not reading Suzanne Moore’s piece? This is not bullying, this is self-defence. Your strapline is nothing more than a transparent silencing tactic.

“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.”

Suzanne Moore was pulled up over a tasteless comment about Brazilian trans women (a group which are under constant threat of murder), and instead of apologising or editing her piece, she decided to keep on digging. She has no place to paint herself as a victim in this.

“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 crux of the criticism isn’t about her writing style, it’s about her contempt for transgender people. The analogy with the black and white minstrels is of course a revolting one; the black and white minstrels clowned at being black. Trans women are women, whatever you might like to pretend.

“Suzanne contributed a piece about women’s anger”

Just a little aside to draw attention to the irony of someone who wrote about the importance of women’s anger and then went on to discipline trans women for being angry at her.

“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.”

1) The equation of trans women with porn stars is misogynist, and just totally dismisses the idea that they might be real people (and in general that porn stars are real people)
2) Take a moment, please, to compare phrasing like “ the very vociferous transsexual lobby and their grim groupies” with the language and rhetoric of men whinging over how “feminazis” spoil everything for them.
3) If you were at all switched on to trans feminist authors, you’d of course be well aware that no small amount of attention is paid to the construction of an ideal female body and the amount of pain women (in particular trans women) are put through trying to achieve it. I assure you, it is easier for cis women to attain such bodies than trans women, and trans women are put under more pressure to do so – not only by society at large as a requirement for ‘passing’ but also (as you might have noticed from the explosion of #transdocfail) by the medical structures which ought to be assisting them, not policing them. I might also take a moment to point out that trans women by and large do not attain this ideal – certainly no more than cis women do – which puts them in danger. In this instance however, some people pulled out a particularly egregious part (the act of criticising writing should not shock you at this point in your career) and, again, instead of addressing the problem in her piece she decided it was more important to discipline the trans women who dared to criticise her.
4) Again, you’re attempting to construct Moore as the victim here by saying she was ‘picked on’; this has no more substance than a misogynist calling themselves ‘picked on’ when feminists pull them up on their actions.

“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”

1) Again with constructing cissexists as persecuted by transgender people. This is on a par with misogynists claiming to be persecuted by women. Julie Bindel is a vile example of a human being who delights in endangering the employment, safety, and lives of trans people so that she can mock them and set herself above them.
2) Perhaps you should engage with transfeminist literature if you’re so ill-informed that that is your only experience.

“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.”

1) You will find of course that merely not engaging with trans* issues is hardly something which attracts much outrage; she is picketed because she has the temerity to present herself as a campaigner for women whilst simultaneously tearing down women who don’t meet her criteria for womanhood. Don’t try to minimise her actions. They put people in genuine danger.
2) You make it sound as if there is somehow a shortage of people willing to speak on rape and trafficking without also being vile and cissexist, or that these are non-issues for trangender people. I can do nothing but assure any reader who might otherwise be misled that this is not at all the case.

“Similarly, Suzanne’s original piece was about the real horror of the bigger picture…”

This does not excuse bigotry in the process. If I write the world’s most moving and wondrous piece about the society we live in, and choose to use bigoted language in the process, that neither indemnifies me against criticism of my bigotry nor entitles me to respond to that criticism by digging deeper.

“…ruinous effects on the lives of the weakest members of our society, many of whom happen to be women…”

You write this as if trans women are somehow not themselves victims of this. Again. We are. We know.

“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”.”

Your evocation of this image is vile, racist and classist quite aside from being inaccurate. It’s more like, say, some wretched inner-city kids calling you an asshole for invoking stereotypes about them to attack trans women.

“Ignore the real enemy – they’re strong and will need real effort and organisation to fight.”

Trans people don’t ignore the “real enemy”. This isn’t ignoring the real enemy. Anyone who promotes cissexist attitudes is a real enemy. Nor do we ignore larger injustices; that doesn’t mean small ones are not worth fighting against.

“…endless decades in academia…”
“Educated beyond all common sense and honesty…”

There is this weird construction of trans people by some people as academics. I have literally no way to respond to this as it’s so entirely removed from anything resembling fact. I can only speculate that it’s an anti-intellectual fiction invented to invalidate our views as coming from an ‘ivory tower’ rather than the ‘real world’ that trans people apparently don’t have to navigate, live in, be killed in.

I’ll confess to having spent my own years in academia, but unless I can shoehorn in the analysis of the acoustic properties of someone’s voice into a transfeminist essay I’m pretty sure it’s not relevant.

“…accuse Suze of white feminist privilege…”

Crass stereotyping of Brazilian trans women is cis, white feminist privilege. You missed a spot. And of course, it’s an accurate accusation.

“…it may have been this that made her finally respond in the subsequent salty language she employed…”

It may have been her revolting contempt for trans women.

“She, the other JB and I are part of the minority of women of working-class origin…”
“Sod that, we’re having lobster and champagne at Frederick’s and I’m paying”

Good to see you retained your class consciousness there. Sorry, where was I.

“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… We know that everything we have we got for ourselves. We have no family money, no safety net. ”

This ties in with the myth of trans people as ivory tower academics of course; of course all trans women are white and wealthy and just looking for something to do (to clarify for the hard of sarcasm: we’re not; poverty, unemployment and homelessness are *gigantic* problems for trans people, especially trans women.) unlike you hard-nosed penny-pinching honest-guv’nor working class sorts.

“Sod that, we’re having lobster and champagne at Frederick’s and I’m paying”

Lost my place. Here we go:

“…trannies. (I know that’s a wrong word…”

Then you shouldn’t be using it.

“…having recently discovered that their lot describe born women as ‘Cis’ – sounds like syph, cyst, cistern; all nasty stuff…”

1) It’s the antonym of trans, crack a chemistry or latin textbook. You can dislike it if you want to, but it’s necessary because it gets around terminology that marks out trans people as other and cis people as default. It’s not at all the same thing as a slur, because a) it doesn’t have the intent to degrade and b) cis people have privilege over trans people, so it doesn’t have the capacity to cause harm either.
2) Nice try constructing it as misogynist, but of course it’s not; men who were assigned male at birth are also cis. This is not aimed specifically at cis women.
3) Going back to point 1: language like ‘born women’ reinforces the privileged, default status of cis women and constructs them as genuine – and by contrast marks out trans women as some kind of special case and constructs them as fake.

“And we are damned if we are going to be accused of being privileged”

No, you’re damned, and you’re going to be accused of being privileged. Because you are. Good grief, have you been asleep while everyone else has been learning to at least pay lip service to intersectionality?

“…men telling women not to talk and threatening them with all kinds of nastiness if they persist in saying what they feel.”

An adequate attempt at slipping in the idea that trans women are men. Trans women aren’t men. They’re women. The clue’s in the name.

“…I find it very hard to imagine this mob struggling with anything apart from… the concept of free speech.”

Ah, we’re round to the good old free speech derail! Tell me, does my right to free speech protect me from all criticism if I write a piece justifying rape, or explaining why women are inferior, or about how much I want to buy myself a mail-order bride? No? That’s because that’s not what free speech is; pulling that card to get out of trouble for writing something vile is disingenuous and you know it is.

“To have your cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women…”

Trans women are women regardless of surgical status, incidentally, they don’t magically become women when they have SRS (which isn’t the same as a penectomy, though of course this is how you like to describe it for the shock and disgust value). And we don’t plead special privileges as women; we demand basic human decency as women and as transgender people.

“…above natural-born women…”

Again with the cissupremacist rhetoric. You will find that most trans women are born women, regardless of what people try to impress upon them.

“…don’t threaten or bully us lowly natural-born women…”

We won’t. (Well, I mean some of us will. I can’t make guarantees for everyone, trans people aren’t some monolothic, er, lobby). We will continue to take cis women (and of course cis men) to task for their cissexism. Also another swing at constructing trans women as somehow having privilege over cis women.

“We may not have as many lovely big swinging Phds as you”

SEE BECAUSE TRANS WOMEN HAVE TESTICLES SEE LIKE BIG SWINGING NUTS ‘CAUSE THEY’RE REALLY MEN. I just needed to expand on that; thought that might have been a bit fucking subtle otherwise. Also again with the idea trans women are all academics.

“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”

I award you ten gumption points for implying that trans women don’t experience sexual harrassment, and one hundred thousand gumption points for implying trans women don’t go through HRT.

“I warn you… You really won’t like us when we’re angry.”

I thought we weren’t threatening and bullying. My mistake, eh.

Finally, a roundup of the slurs with no content to respond to:

“…by a bunch of dicks in chicks’ clothing…”

“after having one’s nuts taken off (see what I did there?)”

“screaming mimis”

“a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs.”

“stand-off with the trannies…”

“they’re lucky I’m not calling them shemales. Or shims.”

Actually hang on this one needs special attention: No, we’re not, because a) you just did, and of course you know you did; this is like a child going “I’M DEFINITELY NOT GOING TO SHOUT POO” then looking all indignant when they get told off, b) no, because that’s a matter of basic human decency not a special favour and c) even if you’d been called all sorts of horrible things (which you hadn’t been at this point) that would not give you the right to use slurs.
All caught up? Okay.

“Shims, shemales, whatever you’re calling yourselves these days -”

I thought you weren’t calling us that.

So in summary: “Trans women aren’t real women, also they should never criticise cissexist attitudes while any other issues exist, also they’re bullying my dear cis friends, also they are all rich academics also they don’t experience sexism, harassment or HRT ALSO JUST SHUT UP SHUT UP I DON’T WANT TO LISTEN TO YOU LA LA LA SHUT UP”

More seriously: the whole piece is about how mean it is of trans women to defend themselves against cissexist women, and every other line is just trying to silence us in the hope we’ll go away. Righteous anger, indeed.

Final count:
“Trans women are rich/academics/privileged ”: 5
“My cissexist friends got picked on :'(”: 7
Slurs: 8
Random swings into classist/racist/ableist analogies: 3



Filed under Uncategorized