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UK Activists Protest Newspaper’s Offices Over Julie Burchill’s Transphobic Column

Screen Shot 2013-01-20 at 5.25.34 PMMore than 100 trans people and allies demonstrated outside the London offices of Guardian Media Group on Thursday evening to protest writer Julie Burchill’s transphobic column in last Sunday’s Observer.

In the column in question, Burchill defended friend and fellow writer Suzanne Moore, who had written than biological women are being pressured to have the body “of a Brazilian transsexual.” The ensuing backlash led Moore to deactivate her Twitter account and an incensed Burchill to tell transsexuals to “cut it out.”

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.

In her column, Burchill used a number of offensive terms to refer to the trans community, including “a bunch of dicks in chicks’ clothing,” “trannies,” “shemales” and “bed-wetters in bad wigs.” She defended her blatant bigotry, claiming she and fellow feminist Julie Bindel earned their stripes through a lifetime of struggle:

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. And we are damned if we are going to be accused of being privileged by a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs.

Martha Dunkley, a member of TransLondon, called Burchill’s article “deliberate baiting” of the transgender community. “It was straightforward, transphobic hate speech for which, had she been targeting another group, she would have been arrested.”

While the demonstrators say they want a full apology from the Observer and reassurances it won’t allow its pages to be a platform for hate speech, MP Lynne Featherstone is asking for Burchill to be fired.

The Observer has removed Burchill’s piece from its website, and issued a statement through a spokesperson:

“We respect the reasons behind today’s peaceful vigil by members and supporters of the trans community. The Observer withdrew Julie Burchill’s comment piece earlier this week, acknowledging that on this occasion we got it wrong.

The Observer readers’ editor will respond to this issue at greater length in due course. We have spoken with representatives from the gathering with a view to continuing this dialogue once we have considered and reflected on the letter they have delivered to us today.”

 

By:           Dan Avery
On:           Jan 21, 2013
Tagged: , , , , ,

  • 11 Comments
    • 2eo
      2eo

      Good work, first person to punch her in the face gets a beverage of their choice on the house.

      Jan 21, 2013 at 8:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • chainbear
      chainbear

      @2eo: No, don’t say stuff like this.

      Jan 21, 2013 at 8:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • vklortho
      vklortho

      I have been keeping track of this controversy for most of the time it’s been around. One thing positive that has come from this in my opinion is I think more trans women are going to be willing to trust feminism now after seeing quite a few non-trans feminists stand up to Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill. Before this I know that I personally was always unsure of whether a given feminist group (or even feminism in general) was anti-trans or pro-trans unless they had it explicitly written out somewhere due to what felt like 90%+ of any feminism related discussion involving She Who Must Not Be Named. During this controversy I have seen many people do great things as allies and all around decent human beings.

      Jan 21, 2013 at 9:03 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 2eo
      2eo

      @chainbear: Why, house beverages are usually reasonably priced, it isn’t like I said “pick a cocktail, any cocktail” and ran with it.

      @vklortho: Indeed, it’s good to see that a slightly different hat doesn’t mean there’s much difference in the overall ideals, nice to see people standing up for people for a change.

      Jan 21, 2013 at 9:40 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 2eo
      2eo

      @chainbear: Why, house beverages are usually reasonably priced, it isn’t like I said “pick a cockt@il, any cockt@il” and ran with it.

      @vklortho: Indeed, it’s good to see that a slightly different hat doesn’t mean there’s much difference in the overall ideals, nice to see people standing up for people for a change.

      Jan 21, 2013 at 9:41 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ruhlmann
      Ruhlmann

      @2eo: One lousy drink?

      Jan 21, 2013 at 10:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andreusz
      Andreusz

      @2eo: The right to free speech should be absolute. Rather point out the inaccuracies and illogicalities in her argument.

      Jan 22, 2013 at 1:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 2eo
      2eo

      @Andreusz: People more eloquent than me have already done that, and in a better, more informed way than I could. You know, like the article says in a bunch of links and has written in clear text.

      @Ruhlmann: Well, it’s just one punch, if someone fancies firing an exocet missile at her I’ll scale the present accordingly.

      Jan 22, 2013 at 4:58 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ruhlmann
      Ruhlmann

      @2eo: I’ve thought it over, I would never hit a woman so….three fingers of 18 year old Glenfiddich, neat, and I’ll pinch her arm really mean and give her such a dirty look she’ll think twice before insulting women she is really deep down threatened by. Let me know.

      Jan 22, 2013 at 5:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 2eo
      2eo

      @Ruhlmann: Sorry, a pinch in the arm is only worth 2 rolo’s and an Orangina.

      Jan 22, 2013 at 6:38 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ruhlmann
      Ruhlmann

      Story of my life….never heard of an Orangina. It sounds like a woman’s complaint.

      Jan 22, 2013 at 7:58 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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