Folk star Grace Petrie has a stern message for transphobic lesbians: ‘Trans people are not the enemy’

Grace Petrie

Iconic lesbian singer-songwriter Grace Petrie has explained how transphobia in Britain will become a “stain” on the country’s history, and will be looked back on with “shame” by history books.

As a butch lesbian whose butch identity is a “central idea to her songs and her identity on stage”, Petrie told PinkNews that she feels “an urgent responsibility to distance myself from [‘gender critical’ feminism]”.

Butch lesbians have become a pawn used in arguments by anti-trans feminists, who insist that young people are transitioning instead of embracing their butch identity.

“Butch-phobia is a real thing… it’s a specific kind of homophobia,” Petrie said, while vehemently disagreeing with the transphobic talking point.

If anti-trans groups are truly “worried that kids are deciding that they’re trans because they’re unhappy just being butch lesbians”, she asked, why would they not make it their “mission to increase the level of positive butch representation?”

“The idea that the response to that is to take away access to health care for trans kids is so the wrong way around,” she said. 

Petrie explained how “damaging” it was growing up with “absolutely no butch representation anywhere”. She said that while is was definitely true that more lesbian representation was desperately needed, it is “saddening and maddening” to see that topic “co-opted for the persecution of another group”.

“It’s not the case that we’re suddenly overrun with trans rights and trans representation, or that [trans people] are in some way colonising the spaces that we have for lesbians. That isn’t true at all.

“It’s still overwhelmingly the case that like 99 per cent of culture is catering to straight, white, cis, able-bodied men… Trans people are not the enemy.”

Passionately, Petrie said: “I want to say to these transphobic lesbians, ‘Turn your ire towards the deserving target of it! Turn it towards the patriarchy, which is where it belongs!”

“I’ve played shows in this country to thousands and thousands of queer people, and thousands of lesbians, and lesbians are not asking for the persecution of trans people. You know, that’s not on their radar.

“So if you actually were listening to lesbians, I don’t think this would be where you would be putting your energy.”

The rampant transphobia in the UK makes Grace Petrie ‘ashamed to live in this country’

With the onslaught of transphobia from politicians across the political spectrum and the media, as well as fringe “gender critical” groups, we  have reached the point of “classic British moral panic in the same way that we had with gay people in the 80s”, Grace Petrie said.

“It’s been eye-opening to live through the last couple of years, and realise that that’s what it would have been like as a gay person in the 80s.

“The onslaught is literally daily, in ways that are just maddening and sickening.

“I mean, the articles that used the murder of Sarah Everard to further the cause of transphobia.

“As a woman living in this country and feeling so unsafe as a result of the horrible truths that came out about that horrific murder, the idea that anybody could be looking at, and thinking, ‘This is a way for me to get my point across’, when trans women are just as terrified as cis women about that case.

“[Trans women] are facing just the same threats of walking down the street in the darkness and not knowing if harm is going to come to them.

She continued: “When people are that obsessive about it, that they would take a story like that and turn it to their own advantage… It makes me ashamed. It makes me ashamed to live in this country.

“I have no doubt that we’re going to win in the end. But I think in thirty or forty years, people will look back on it and they will see it as a stain on this country’s history, the same way that we regard section 28, the same way we regard the response to the AIDS epidemic.

“It’s another mass moral panic and failing of queer people, and it will be looked back on, I think, with absolute shame by the history books.”

Grace Petrie’s new album Connectivity was released on 4 October and is available on streaming platforms now.