Friday, 7 April 2017

Here we go with the Loopy Littlejohn Lay Opinion Again: My Response to Richard Littlejohn

Hi Mr Littlejohn.

You may never have heard of me before and probably won't once to hear from me again if you've taken the time to read this blogpost. I'm one of those members of the "gobby trans tyrannical minority" that you want to decry so vehemently for daring to challenge your backward, crummy values. You said before that "us Remainers" should give Brexiteers a break and "stop with the hate"....well this article you've penned today for the Daily Fail gives me a chance to categorically state that there are Leave voters out there who also happen to be equality advocates who would not agree with you. Not every Leave voter wants to emulate a 1950's "life was so much simpler back then" dual gender binary bubble lifestyle. Times have changed and attitudes towards sexuality and gender fluidity has moved on.
Homosexuality is now legal, trans people are openly accepted in the workplace (and are protected from being dismissed if they decide to go through Gender Reassignment Surgery) and we now have amazingly brave non-binary and intersex activists coming out "from the woodwork" who are not afraid of challenging conservative views. Even Christians (like me) are challenging views of the world based on outdated interpretations of scripture that discriminate against believers on the basis of their gender identity.

I understand. It seems like a brave new world for you. All these trans activists coming from "nowhere" and demanding equal representation in the world. However, trans and non-binary people have been around for eons...it's just that most heterosexuals haven't bothered to acknowledge their positive contribution to society. I suggest you get yourself a copy of "Trans: A British History" to find out from those who have fought hard to give trans, non-binary, gender-fluid and genderqueer activists a decent chance in this world. You know, women like  Christine Burns MBE who helped build up "Press For Change" and helped form the original Gender Recognition Act. She's already written 6 books but this curated anthology of 25 voices from trans people and their allies might be a revelation for you. Check the Unbound page for more details ;)

"Toilet panic gate" seems to have got you fired up once again. I say once again because I remember your transphobic article from December 2012 when you seemed to suggest that trans people shouldn't consider putting themselves forward to become teachers because somehow they'll "corrupt" young minds away from pursuing an "ordinary life". Well the concept of "ordinariness" has shifted dramatically since the 1950's and if we accept gay, lesbian and bi teachers in the classroom, there's no reason not to accept trans, non-binary, gender-fluid and genderqueer ones too. Gender identity or sexuality is only part of our overall identity. It doesn't dictate how well a teacher can engage with and enthuse pupils. It doesn't restrict a teacher's ability to deliver an effective curriculum either. You slandered Lucy Meadows' reputation in your article, making her feel that she was incapable of carrying on with a profession she loved, just because she decided to go through GRS. Your article also put off some fantastic potential trans and non-binary talent from entering the teaching profession. I know because I spoke to English and Maths grads who identify as trans who were considering going on the PGCE programme but were worried that fellow teachers and students would be unwilling to allow them to fulfill their potential. So you wonder why trans activists might be a teeny bit disgruntled with your commentary now given your past history. Hmm.

With a number of cis female commentators coming out trying to grapple with the "big" question of trans female authenticity and gatekeeping access to bathroom facilities, you felt as a cis man
that you needed to come out and tell them all that you were right. That you knew gender neutral bathrooms were coming and you should have listened to, like some transphobic Oracle of Delphi pontificating over the future of hate discourse in the media. Gender neutral facilities being opened in venues across the country is something to be welcomed, not sneered at. Yes there is a legitimate debate to had as to whether gender neutral facilities need to be added rather than adapted so that the traditional mens and ladies toilets that you seem so keen on keeping intact can be kept intact. A truly inclusive society understands the complex needs of members of that society and makes provisions accordingly. You may think that's a vindictive comment to make against conservatives but referring to transvestites and crossdressers as people who "raid the dressing up box" is a bit rich coming from someone keen to smear trans, non-binary, gender-fluid and genderqueer activists as vindictive. You're attributing an adjective to trans, non-binary, gender-fluid and genderqueer people that I rather think befits your own writings, Richard "Mr conservative with a small c" Littlejohn.
 
I don't know whether you've experienced any fear about going into a public toilet before. If you ask trans, non-binary, gender-fluid and genderqueer activists about their experiences you'd realise their experiences regarding bathroom use fear differs widely. I very rarely use a public toilet if I can help it because I have a thing about needing a proper workable lock on the cubicle and I prefer it if no-one else is in the bathroom when I go pee pee. I also pee sitting down and have always done so (yes Mr Littlejohn, not every trans woman, non-binary, gender-fluid or genderqueer person has been socialised to use a urinal...that may shock you but it's my own choice). As long as my privacy is respected, I don't tend to care which bathroom I use. Yet there are trans women who have faced harassment from men when they have to use the male toilet cubicle and trans women deserve to pee in peace just as much as anyone else. So rather than going off on your high horse pontificating over whether trans people "matter enough" for consideration, go and read and listen to their individual experiences. Trans people are not some "homogeneous group" that can be dehumanised whenever gender critical conservatives feel like it. Maybe after a few watches of Fox & Owl's YouTube blog you'll be more reluctant to pass judgement in such a tawdry way.

I find your comment about the "hard Left" laughable because I suspect what you've determined as a "hard Left" principle in your political mindset may in fact be a principle that is shared by centrist lefties like me, especially amongst Millennials. For example, considering changes to legal gender markers for non-binary and intersex people is not a radical idea in itself. You may think it's funny to point out that such passports wouldn't be recognised in Tehran or Moscow or wherever but it's really a moot point. You don't presume to figure out where gay or lesbian or bi people want to take their holiday, so why whip up some fake panic for non-binary people. Let them determine wherever they want to go.

Implementing age-appropriate Sex and Relationships (SRE) education in all schools, including faith ones, so that young people understand the need to show compassion and tolerance towards LGBTQIA+ peers and elders is also not a "hard Left" idea. We do need to equip young people with an understanding of laws surrounding consent as well as domestic violence and abuse. So why not design a few lessons around gender identity and sexuality? Besides, Stonewall already has a fantastic Schools Speaker programme, which will recruit more trans, non-binary, gender-fluid and genderqueer speakers over the next four years as part of their wide-ranging plan "A Vision For Change", so it's not as if lessons on gender identity aren't being delivered already. You may not agree ideologically but any scheme that can reduce instances of transphobic hate crime sits very well with me and I shall continue to back calls for LGBTQIA+ inclusive SRE.

There are other interesting policy proposals I could mention which are seen by those on the far-right as "Hard Left" ideals;  lowering the voting age to 16, making sure every primary school child has a healthy meal whilst at school, getting rid of unscrupulous zero-hours contracts etc etc. These sorts of policies are advocated for by a passionate, progressive, forward thinking Labour party, who by the way, delivered our first National Minimum Wage legislation and the Equality Act. I trust that the Labour party, along with the Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens can work together to come up with solutions to help improve the lives of trans, non-binary, gender-fluid and genderqueer people at home, at leisure and in the workplace. You may think that parties on the Left are so divided at grassroots level  that they won't be able to get it together to campaign for parliamentary seats to gain the power needed to enact legislative change. You may sit there and sneer at the policies I've outlined above and think small conservatives in wards such as Birchwood or constituencies such as Lincoln would do the same. However, when you ask residents here, they are sympathetic to improving the lives of people in their area, regardless of their gender identity or sexuality. That includes some self-confessed Brexiteers too!

Reading your article it seems to me that you don't like being challenged with the "bigot" label. I'd say calling trans people "unfortunate" who need to have GRS to become acceptable to the world is pretty bigoted. Not every trans person sees themselves as unfortunate and most non-binary people certainly don't think about having GRS so they can "fit in" with conservative gender values. Besides, what
you perhaps don't want to admit is whilst we are free in the UK to pretty much say what we think,
people are also free to take offence at such comments and where such comments fall foul of our Equality legislation (as in the case of hate crime),  you can get prosecuted for those comments and actions. I'm sorry Mr Littlejohn, but there is no free speech without consequences in this world. You're just upset that there are more people out there are now ready and willing to challenge your comments head-on. You may not like the guidance that has been produced to help make organisations and institutions more diversity friendly. You may hate PC language...well you do since you refer to recent guideline changes for maternity wards in England that trans men and non-binary patients should not be referred to automatically as "mothers"as "idiotic". I'm sorry YOU don't like it Littlejohn but in an equal society we respect the wishes of the individual and the world isn't suddenly going to cave in because a non-binary patient requests not be congratulated as a "new Mum". There are plenty of caring midwives out there who put the interests of their patients first instead of worrying about conservatives getting their starched trousers in a twist.

Anyways back to your gloating about being right about everything gender wise as usual including on bathrooms. Samira Ahmed's comments were her own to make. It probably shouldn't come as a surprise to you but the Left really doesn't engage in "groupthink" on everything. As I mentioned earlier in the article, discussions over whether gender neutral facilities can be added rather than just adapted from existing (often female loos) can be facilitated provided all parties engaged in the debate are prepared to listen to one another.

I don't fear a crossdresser or transvestite using the same loo as me and I say that as someone who's a rape survivor but I understand there are other rape survivors, sexual assault survivors and domestic abuse and violence survivors who may be uncomfortable with the concept of unisex toilets. However, I don't feel the comments you've added will help to facilitate discussion. In fact, I'm not even sure you really want a discussion to take place. "I'm Alright Jack...leave everything as God intended....never mind the little miniscule people in the debate".  Yet a discussion has to take place and take place soon. Trans, non-binary, gender-fluid and genderqueer people deserve to be able to access bathroom facilities without fear of being demonised. They should also be able to participate actively politically too. Perhaps it'll take the election of a trans or non-binary or gender-fluid or genderqueer person to get the ball rolling discussion wise so that we can. directly challenge you and your political ilk in Parliament (trust me, it's not much of an stretch to link you with the ridiculous naiveté  on LGBTQIA+ issues displayed by Philip Davies on an rather too regular basis). We gender non-conformists have always been around and we are not going anywhere. We're not going to sit down and shut up just to make gender critical radical feminists and conservatives feel better. We're going to lobby Government for changes to legislation, including asking for the Equality Act protected characteristic to be changed from "Gender Reassignment Surgery" to "Gender Identity" so that the law fully protects all gender non-conforming people in the UK. We're going to ask for consultations on gender neutral facilities, gender neutral domestic violence shelters and changing the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier for non-binary, gender-fluid and genderqueer people to change their legal gender. With the Lib Dems, Greens, SNP, Plaid Cymru and even Labour listening to us, I know that it's only a matter of time before the legislative changes are enacted. Not even a Hard Tory Brexiteer Government can stop equality progress for long. Change is a-coming Littlejohn. So why not take a leaf out of Stuart Tory Aphra Behn's book. After all, it was she who said that "Variety is the soul of pleasure".....

Signed "An Opinionated Gobby Miniscule Tyrant."