Video: Trans community speak of their hurt at Julie Burchill’s Observer article

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Equality charity Scottish Transgender Alliance (STA) is promoting a YouTube video that shows personal individual responses to a transphobic article published in the Observer this month.

The video “Trans Cabal: Right to Reply” was compiled by TransBareAll (TBA), a group which works to improve the health and welfare of trans people. It features a number of trans people and allies giving an insight into how a transphobic article by Julie Burchill and the media furore surrounding it affected their lives.

The title of the video references a tweet made by columnist Julie Bindel, who accused the trans community of forming a “trans cabal” against Burchill and her friend Suzanne Moore over the article.

The video opens with a statement from a person covering their face, who says: “‘Offended’ does not cover how I feel. I am terrified. Too terrified to show you my face, and I’ve done nothing wrong.”

Another speaker says: “I’m really worried that as a direct result of that article there are fewer trans people around. It’s not an exaggeration if you look at the results from the trans mental health study.”

The mental health study in question was co-authored by TBA founder Jay McNeil and links instances of depression among trans people to their depiction in the media.

51% of people involved in the study felt that the portrayal of trans people and issues in the media had a negative effect on their mental wellbeing.

Mr McNeil said: “Some of the terms published [in the article] are so deeply rooted in discrimination, violence and hatred that it is just not ok to say them. It refers to me. It refers to many of the people in this film. It harms all trans people, and the people who love us.”

TBA say that they hope more people will come forward with video responses, not as an attack on freedom of speech, but as a demonstration of “the real impact of recent transphobic stories.”

An STA spokesperson said of Burchill’s article: “Such offensive language was used purposefully to attack the identities of trans people. We know that transphobia has a hugely negative impact on the mental health of transgender people, and in this case it was directed at them using the British media.”

The charity warned earlier this month that Burchill’s article was symptomatic of “rising transphobia in the British media”.