Trans icons Juno Dawson and Hannah Graf rally against ‘dangerous’ anti-trans public figures

Juno Dawson, Joanne Harris and Hannah Graf MBE

Trans icons Hannah Graf MBE and Juno Dawson have slammed well-known public figures and for stoking “uninformed and divisive” views against the trans community. 

The pair spoke at the PinkNews Awards 2022, supported by joint headline sponsors Lloyds Banking Group and United Airlines, where they presented the Ally of the Year award to Chocolat author Joanne Harris.

In her speech Graf, a former officer of the British Army, detailed how “vital allies are” and shared how she had felt “isolation and fear” while growing up.

“On a positive note younger trans people, particularly today, we have more role models, more support networks, more understanding of who they are than ever before.

“That support is from parents, friends, organisations like Mermaids, they now have somewhere to turn to and feel that little bit less alone.”

Juno Dawson, Joanne Harris and Hannah Graf.

Juno Dawson, Joanne Harris and Hannah Graf. (PinkNews Awards 2022)

But despite the increased support available, Graf highlighted that “trans young folk remain under attack”. 

“They are bullied at school by their peers, sometimes even their teachers,” she said. 

She added that trans children’s families are often attacked for supporting them and the media “continues to debate their very existence”.

“This becomes truly dangerous when it then gets involved with public figures with huge social media followings, most of whom have never talked to a trans child or their terrified parents.”

She said these figures spout “uninformed and divisive” views, and added: “The mainstream media would have us believe these are innocent concerns vocalised for the good of society, but freedom of speech should not be freedom from consequence. 

“For example, the sustained and utterly inexplicable Twitter campaign from a certain author – she who who must not be named – against trans youth charity Mermaids of which I’m a proud patron.”

Graf said the impact of the author’s Twitter campaign has been “truly devastating” and led to the abuse of the charity’s volunteers.

She recalled terrible names the team have been called and said “multiple death threats have been made specially at individuals”, with people’s and addresses and phone numbers also being shared online. 

“This is to a charity that has been largely run by mothers, fathers, volunteers, all of who are now afraid for their own safety and the safety of their children.

“I’m sorry, but If your words incite these behaviours then you are accountable,” Graf added.

Hannah Graf MBE (l) and Juno Dawson

Hannah Graf MBE (l) and Juno Dawson at the PinkNews Awards 2022. (PinkNews Awards 2022)

Bestselling author Dawson noted the mainstream media “like to create a myth that there is some great ideological divide between cisgender women and trans women”. 

She explained that the first people she came out to were all cisgender women and highlighted how if they speak up for their trans brothers and sisters they are “shut down and locked out”.

The duo then presented the Ally of the Year award which went to Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat, who said it was “so wonderful” to finally have a “supportive, wonderful, fabulous community that I understand and that understands me”.

Joanne Harris

PinkNews’ Ally of the Year Joanne Harris. (PinNews Awards 2022)

She said she didn’t feel she deserved the award as she “only tweeted” and said a few things, so she dedicated the award to her trans son, who came out in June. 

Harris was subjected to vicious online abuse this year due to her support for trans people, with one academic claiming people with trans children should be forced to “declare” their family relationships.

“I’m still coming to terms with what that means, but I’m so impressed by this young generation of people who are so incredibly articulate about their gender, their sexuality and their mental health.

“These magical children who don’t need a special hat to tell them who they are, but who have actually worked it out for themselves.”

‘I was a target’

In an interview at the PinkNews Awards 2022, Harris said she started talking about trans issues five years ago but didn’t realise there would be so much “push back”

When he son came out as trans Harris realised “not only was he a target, but so was I”.

“So I thought, damn it, I’m just going to come out and say things as they are. I think it’s important that people understand that this ridiculous media-driven culture war narrative, where the trans people are the enemy, is just so dangerous and so divisive and it absolutely needs to be combatted.”

Harris added there are so many powerful and influential people sharing the anti-trans narrative that it is time “that somebody else stood up and spoke the truth”.