Trans author perfectly explains how transphobia has become ‘respectable bigotry’ in the UK

Juliet Jacques on transphobia

Trans author Juliet Jacques perfectly explained how transphobia, seen across the political spectrum, has become “respectable bigotry” in the UK.

Last month saw the launch of the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights, a grassroots campaign which warned that the Labour party has “failed to act as transphobia has gained ground”, despite the party’s official support for trans equality and gender recognition reforms.

Labour leadership hopefuls Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy both signed up to the group’s pledges, which included to “expel transphobes” from the party and stand with the trans and non-binary community, but Keir Starmer did not (he however sign the LGBT+ Labour pledges).

Jacques, author of Trans: A Memoir, wrote in an opinion piece for the New York Times: “The outcry was immediate: People started the hashtag #expelme on Twitter. Hecklers disrupted leadership hustings. And Tony Blair, a former leader and prime minister, warned of ‘the cul-de-sac of identity politics’.

“To many, the sight of a center-left party failing to support trans rights without equivocation must be baffling — not least to American Democrats, whose party, divided in many ways, is firmly united in its support for trans and non-binary people.

“But really, it’s no surprise. Transphobia, constantly amplified by the country’s mainstream media, is a respectable bigotry in Britain, shared by parts of the left as well as the right.”

Juliet Jacques explained that there are two primary types of transphobia in the UK, which spread across political parties and mainstream media.
The first, “employed most frequently but not exclusively by right-wing men”, completely rejects the idea that trans people exist and insists that gender must only be defined by physiological traits.

Jacques continued: “The other type, from a so-called radical feminist tradition, argues that trans women’s requests for gender recognition are incompatible with cis women’s rights to single-sex spaces.

“At its core, such an argument is not at odds with the first type – both rely on the conceit that trans and non-binary people should not determine their own gender identities – but it is this second strain that is often expressed on the British left, from the communist Morning Star to the liberal New Statesman and The Guardian.”

Jacques said that when tackling “Britain’s unreformed and unrepentantly hostile media, and the virulent transphobia it endlessly churns out, calls for unity won’t be enough”.

She added that the Labour Party and its new leader must “decide whose support is worth keeping, and pick a side”.