British gay group Stonewall may have egg on its face this Thursday when trans activists protest the organization’s eponymous awards at the V&A Museum.
Activists are annoyed over the group’s nomination of lesbian journalist Julie Bindel, who, in 2004, wrote an article in which she pitted her feminism against trans rights.
Twenty years ago, when I worked on an advice line for lesbians, I would take call after call from self-hating, suicidal women who had experienced horrific homophobia. Thanks to feminism and gay liberation, that situation has altered radically. What a disgrace, therefore, that our legacy amounts to this: if you are unhappy with the constraints of your gender, don’t challenge them. If you are tired of being stared at for snogging your same-sex partner in the street, have a sex change. Where are those who go berserk about the ethics of genetic engineering yet seem not to worry about major, irreversible surgery on healthy bodies? Also, those who “transition” seem to become stereotypical in their appearance – fuck-me shoes and birds’-nest hair for the boys; beards, muscles and tattoos for the girls. Think about a world inhabited just by transsexuals. It would look like the set of Grease.
Bindel later spoke at a panel and suggested “sex change operations constitute unnecessary mutilation.”
With Bindel’s nomination, trans activists and their allies are coming out to fight the “notoriously transphobic writer” whose work, some say, mirrors that of the Christian right. Stonewall, meanwhile, chalks the protest up to a “publicity stunt.” Even if that’s the case, it’s working. They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but this doesn’t look good.