Power, Trans People, and the UK Press

Content warning for extensive transphobia and for mentions of sexual assault.

I will use the term ‘anti-trans activist’ in this article to describe people and organisations who campaign to spread fear and scepticism surrounding trans people (particularly trans women and transfeminine people) and/or to roll back the legal rights of trans people, regardless of whether this is an explicitly stated aim. I have chosen this term rather than transphobe or ‘TERF’ (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) because it centres the intentions and material consequences of their organising.

Pro-trans activists, broadly, are people who campaign to improve/protect legal rights for trans people and to spread positive views of trans people. Pro-trans activists include cis, trans and non-binary people across all genders, but the heart of pro-trans organising lies with trans and non-binary people.

I’ve generally used the term ‘trans people’ when describing who is harmed/targeted by anti-trans activism, even though it cannot be overstated that an overwhelmingly high percentage of all anti-trans activism specifically targets trans women. Transphobic organisations – and the news and opinion pieces that cover/bolster these organisations – focus disproportionately on binary trans women, rarely mention trans men, and almost never mention non-binary people; trans women (and those who are construed as trans women, such as non-binary trans femmes) are constructed in a uniquely dangerous and transgressive way. However, trans men and non-binary people organise together with, and for, our trans sisters – and a hostile environment for them is a hostile environment for all trans and non-binary people, even though that hostility is particularly targeted towards trans women. 

On 25 October 2019, the Examination Schools of the University of Oxford hosted a Woman’s Place UK (WPU) event, centred around a panel of prominent anti-trans academics and speakers.[1] WPU is one of a growing number of outwardly ‘respectable’ anti-trans organisations which align themselves with feminism; its aims ostensibly begin from a position of women’s activism, but it uses the pretext of fighting violence against women to spread scepticism about, and fear of, trans people and pro-trans legislation.[2]

WPU are more careful not to let the mask slip than most anti-trans organisations are; they usually refuse to directly utter the words ‘trans people’, instead indirectly inferring the presence of trans people in the discussion by centring the need to protect women’s ‘sex-based rights’ (which evokes the people who are construed as threatening these rights – trans women) and the need to protect the ‘free speech’ (anti-trans speech) of specific anti-trans speakers.[3] There are occasional explicit mentions of the topic at hand, however, such as retweeting the statement ‘enforcing the dogma that transwomen [sic] are women is totalitarian.’[4]

WPU’s priorities can be derived most easily from its speakers. The four speakers at the WPU Oxford event were Selina Todd, Susan Matthews, Raquel Rosario Sanchez and Allison Bailey. Selina Todd is an Oxford history professor, self-avowed ‘gender-critical feminist’ and has retweeted comments claiming that transitioning is a form of ‘eugenics’ for gay people.[5] Susan Matthews writes for Transgender Trend, an anti-trans website which has spread the pernicious myth of ‘Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria’.[6] Raquel Rosario Sanchez is a PhD student in gender and violence who is associated with various anti-trans groups and has supportively retweeted a speech by the LGB Alliance, a specifically anti-trans fringe group aiming to cut the ‘T’ out of ‘LGBT’;[7] and Allison Bailey is a lawyer and founding member of the LGB Alliance.[8] Anti-trans views are the common link between these four speakers; if WPU was genuinely a pro-women group first and foremost, it would be highly unlikely that its speakers would share a consistently negative view of trans people and an association with anti-trans organising, given that most feminists are not actively involved with anti-trans organisations.

I will profile how anti-trans campaigners, including WPU, further anti-trans sentiment and push back pro-trans legislation under the false guise of women’s activism in a further article. In this article, I wish to address the constructions of power which are promoted by these groups, and are supported by most UK media coverage of pro- and anti-trans activism: namely, the construction of anti-trans speakers and organisations as oppressed, bullied and courageous, and of trans people and pro-trans activists as possessors of power, bullies, abusers, and opponents of free speech.

How anti-trans activism is represented

Newspaper coverage of clashes between anti-trans and pro-trans activists tends to talk a lot about abuse, bullying and censorship. An anti-trans PhD student is described as the victim of ‘bullying’ by a ‘transgender activist’ who ‘could cost her a visa’; pro-trans activists are on a ‘witch hunt’, they’re a ‘hate mob’, they’re ‘putting children at risk’ with a ‘political agenda’; they ‘hound’ people out of their jobs; they’re ‘bullies’; they are waging a ‘war on women’; they’re ‘scaring’ people.[9] Those who ‘cave’ to pro-trans activism are ‘betraying’ and even ‘eliminating’ (!) women.[10] Meanwhile, anti-trans activists are the bullied, the hounded, the inconvenient women burned as witches. Even in articles where the headline appears more neutral, such as ‘UK universities struggle to deal with ‘toxic’ trans rights row’, the article is almost entirely devoted to the ‘abuse’ and ‘fear of speaking up’ experienced by anti-trans activists.[11]

There is often a deliberate conflation between ‘abuse’ and ‘criticism’ in these discussions. For instance, a 2018 Guardian piece talks about the ‘abuse’ and ‘fear’ faced by anti-trans academics, beginning with a reported abusive comment experienced by an anti-trans academic (‘transphobic Nazi who should be raped’), but then proceeds to describe:

  • a lecturer requesting that an anti-trans academic ‘be blacklisted from giving any papers or attending events at their law school’
  • students calling for an anti-trans academic’s talks to be cancelled
  • another academic being ‘publicly labelled transphobic’ by their university’s student union
  • a nebulous fear about voicing views on the issue (alongside a noticeably problematic comparison to censorship under apartheid)
  • a person cancelling their place at a humanities conference when they heard that an anti-trans academic was going to speak there.[12]

It should be self-evident that it is disingenuous at best to associate much of this with ‘abuse’, rather than disagreement, criticism and freedom of response. Conflating genuine abuse, such as death threats or rape threats – which are abhorrent, and should be dealt with via institutional and/or legal channels – with criticism and protest serves anti-trans activists’ ends, because it means they can situate themselves as wronged actors and dismiss legitimate criticism as illegitimate abuse.[13] If a woman is being criticised on the basis of their bigotry, or on the basis that their actions threaten the safety of trans people, that cannot be dismissed as misogyny.

On WPU’s list of their five ‘New Year’s Resolutions’, number 1 is ‘Women have the right to self-organise’, or, in its expanded form: ‘Women have a right to self-organisation, to speak and be heard free from fear of abuse, threat or vilification in public and political discourse and in academia. This should be actively facilitated by those with civic or legal responsibility for promoting equality.’[14] The third term WPU uses, ‘vilification’, is a deliberate turn from ‘abuse’ and ‘threat’: ‘vilification’ is a term much harder to pin down, and it seems to imply that it is abusive and/or censoring to heavily criticise or ostracise any woman for the views they express, regardless of said views, simply because they are women. Anti-censorship and pro-women terms have been co-opted to smuggle in an anti-criticism and anti-consequences argument. We can imagine how a woman promoting racist pseudoscience or fascist ideology could, in theory, use these same arguments: generally they don’t, but that’s because people on the far right usually aren’t trying to attract an audience who are sympathetic towards feminist language, while anti-trans activists often are.

Articles that support organisations like WPU talk about the ‘abuse’ faced by anti-trans feminist academics who merely ‘wonder about’, ‘ask about’ and ‘worry about’ the ‘implications’ of ‘practices that are proposed to improve the lives and treatment of transgender people’.[15] There’s an obvious power dynamic being constructed here: the female academics and legislators are innocently speculating about possible harms to women, but they are met by a wall of powerful, disproportionate abuse from trans people and ‘trans activists’.[16] Power is piled into pro-trans activists’ every movement – a chant at a protest can be reconstituted as ‘yelling abuse’; to describe someone’s ideology as transphobic is to ‘slur’ them – and is stripped from anti-trans activists’ language.[17] The privilege of civility is granted to anti-trans activists, who are given a seat at the table at which they are allowed to speak in a calm register. Pro-trans activists, however, who are often comparatively marginalised, have to yell to be heard.

Trauma and trans activism

The division in power between anti-trans and pro-trans activists is emphasised by the representation of trauma experienced by anti-trans cis women, versus trauma experienced by trans and non-binary people. When anti-trans activists experience backlash, criticism and protest from pro-trans activists, they may have their status as trauma survivors foregrounded, such as being a sexual assault survivor or a survivor of domestic abuse.[18] Thus, pro-trans activists are construed as (male) aggressors who are deliberately harming traumatised women. Anti-trans activists’ trauma is permitted space because of the individuation of particular anti-trans figureheads, the relatively protected status of cis people compared to trans people, and the political efficacy of anti-trans activists’ trauma in this context, which becomes recognised purely in the service of turning pro-trans activists into abusers. Pro-trans activists cannot access that same space for their trauma.

In the 2015 US Transgender Survey (the most recent iteration), more than half of respondents (54%) reported having experienced some form of intimate partner violence, and 47% reported being sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.[19] In the context of the WPU Oxford event, a staggering 98% of trans students at Oxford report that they have experienced mental health issues, and 49% report having self-harmed.[20] Yet trans and non-binary people are, here, tacitly positioned as somehow in league with sexual assaulters and domestic abusers, rather than as also being victims. The way this rhetorical turn is accomplished is by being purposefully vague about who ‘pro-trans activists’ actually are.

When a shadowy mob of angry, threatening protestors, without any consideration given for their status or why they might be protesting, are compared to a single, crystallised cis woman activist, sympathy automatically shifts to said cis woman. When particular pro-trans activists are given any identifying characteristics, it tends to either involve abusive remarks attributed to people with ‘he’ pronouns (the spectre of the abusive cis man using pro-trans activism to mask his misogyny), or fleeting mentions of trans people/‘transgender bullies’ who make complaints and call people transphobic.[21]

Pro-trans activism is driven by trans people, and trans people experience far more precarity than, say, an anti-trans professor – they are at high risk of being cut off from their families; of economic precarity, unemployment and homelessness; and of experiencing mental health issues.[22] They may refuse to be personally identified due to the risk of being outed, or of receiving targeted transphobic abuse. However, the lack of scrutiny as to who pro-trans activists actually are is deliberate – the shadowy crowd can be covertly defined as a group of misogynistic cis men, of misogynistic and aggrieved trans women, or of unidentified people with an assumed mass power.

The motives of pro-trans activists are very rarely considered in UK media coverage. They are assumed to either be acting on a childish desire to deplatform people they ‘don’t agree with’, or on a similarly childish desire to yell ‘transphobe’ at anti-trans academics, as if ‘transphobe’ was a contentless insult.[23] The conditions of trans existence, and the material harm done to trans people by anti-trans organising, do not enter into the coverage.

Transphobic abuse

Whilst an anti-trans survivor of sexual assault may legitimately experience protests and angry confrontations as traumatic – and a small minority of comments experienced by anti-trans activists may be legitimately abusive – ample space is given to the trauma they experience through willingly engaging in anti-trans activism, and very little space is given to the trauma experienced by a trans rape survivor who is told she is a sexual predator, or that of trans people studying in institutions that host transphobic speakers, or that of individual trans figureheads being doxxed and harassed by transphobes.

Lily Madigan, a 21-year-old trans woman, student and Labour activist, has experienced ceaseless harassment since coming into public notice as Labour’s first trans women’s officer, including being the subject of disturbing prolonged abuse by transphobic figurehead Posie Parker.[24] Various prominent anti-trans academics have targeted Madigan without even a pretext for doing so, including Kathleen Stock, who posted a Tweet misgendering Madigan and referring to her as a ‘heterosexual male’ shortly after Madigan posted about coming out as gay.[25] Posting such a statement unprompted, as a securely employed academic several decades Madigan’s senior, looks to be a simple exercise of power and cruelty over a young, and comparatively vulnerable, figure. This is not how people conduct themselves if they truly believe that any anti-trans statement will result in compromising their personal safety.

Meanwhile, anti-trans activists’ utterances and actions are conceptualised in the neutral, sympathetic terms of ‘wondering’ and ‘worrying’ about the bad effects pro-trans legislation may have on women.[26] But when trans people have to exist under conditions of suspicion and prejudice, when their legal rights and access to healthcare are jeopardised, when they have to coexist alongside people who consider them malicious and deluded, then that is a material harm which can very much be caused by anti-trans activists ‘wondering’ and ‘worrying’ in a public, targeted way. The fact that anti-trans activists may receive abuse does not mean their views are correct, does not mean that they are not in possession of relative power compared to trans people, and does not mean they are not causing harm to a marginalised group.

It would also be disingenuous to treat anti-trans activism as divorced from everyday transphobic abuse. Many anti-trans activists affiliate themselves with ‘gender critical feminism’, and any trans person who is active on social media is acutely aware of the deliberate harm inflicted by a large population of avowed ‘gender critical feminists’ on trans people. Pro-trans Tweets on Twitter are quickly swarmed with anti-trans talking points, and Reddit has various highly active subreddits dedicated to insulting, mocking, delegitimising and threatening trans and non-binary people, chiefly trans women.[27] The mood on these subreddits is not that of a persecuted minority fighting a supposed threat to their rights, which is the image of women’s anti-trans activism that high-profile anti-trans activists promote: it is that of a vicious, jubilant hate mob.

Trans Redditors have been sent messages from anti-trans Redditors goading them to kill themselves; r/itsafetish exists to argue that being a trans woman is a twisted sexual perversion; trans women are routinely mocked as ‘men in dresses’, while trans men are infantilised as misguided cis women or coerced butch lesbians; members of r/itsafetish have stalked trans women on Facebook and posted pictures of their profiles; regular posts ask how to convince family members not to support a trans child or trans relative; misgendering of trans people is constant.[28] A post was shared while this piece was being edited claiming that a trans woman asking to be called she/her is the equivalent of ‘a man masturbating in public staring at you’.[29]

Claims are made that trans people transition because they find it easier to exist as trans people than as gay people, that they are trans due to watching too much porn or too much anime, or because they’ll be treated as ‘special’ if they transition – all of which are laughably false, and have the manic ring of similar homophobic arguments from 10 or 20 years ago.[30] Obsessive attention is paid to the supposed grotesqueness of trans people, particularly trans women: an entire subreddit, r/neovaginadisasters, has been created to document and mock the supposedly monstrous results of gender confirmation surgery.[31]

This is a tiny sample of an enormous, and deeply affecting, constant stream of online hate. As a non-binary person, I have to heavily limit how much I expose myself to these subreddits even to debunk them, because being exposed to transphobia that virulent can render me depressed – and it’s far worse for transfeminine people, who bear the brunt of these subreddits’ abuse. But when this daily burden of just existing as trans/non-binary renders us rightly furious, we are tone-policed for shouting at rallies, for telling those who wish to strip us of legal rights to ‘fuck off’, for asking for accountability. We’re told we’re lying about our experiences, that we’re lying about how many people attend our rallies, that our genders themselves are a malicious lie.[32] Then, we’re construed as the ‘bullies’ with all the power, when that reflects the exact opposite of our conditions: anti-trans views are welcomed within almost every British mainstream newspaper, while the views of trans people and trans allies often find the British media far less hospitable.[33]

The problem of power

It should automatically raise alarm bells if academics, particularly permanently contracted professors, are consistently being presented as victims of students, particularly trans students; academics obviously have structural and economic power on their side. More informally, having completed two degrees myself, I am aware of various academics and university staff who are widely known to be abusive, to have plagiarised former students, to have spread racist and/or sexist propaganda, or to have actively failed students in their care; I expect precisely none of these people to lose their jobs any time soon, and I find anti-trans academics’ claims that they are at risk of being fired because of their views to not accurately reflect the current state of academia.

It is abhorrent to spend an entire article speaking about the various inconveniences transphobic academics have experienced for expressing their views, and then to tack on a statistic about how ‘more than a third of trans students faced negative comments from university staff in the past year’ at the end without paying proper attention to the ramifications of that statement.[34] Why are these ‘negative comments’ and not ‘abuse’, a word that is often used describe any form of chanting and shouting at pro-trans counter-protests? What effect does it have on a vulnerable trans student if they are misgendered and/or verbally abused by a university staff member responsible for their care?

When the duties of academics such as Kathleen Stock and Selina Todd include potentially being the supervisors of trans students (I am aware of at least one trans student who has a prominent anti-trans academic supervising them) then it is reasonable to argue that those academics may be failing in their duty of care. It is not solely ‘wondering’ or ‘raising questions’ if the concrete outcome of anti-trans academics’ speaking engagements, writings, the organisations they platform and amplify, is to make trans students feel unsafe in the institution in which they work. Anti-trans speakers cannot strip their utterances of power, and their attempts to do so show that they are manipulating a sexist perspective of ‘women as harmless’ to their advantage while ostensibly promoting a feminist agenda.

The tactical use of ‘womanhood’

Anti-trans organisations that ally themselves with feminist sensibilities often substitute referring to their members with referring to ‘women’, in the sense of ‘all women’: ‘women must be heard’ is used to mean ‘we must be heard’; if someone criticises an anti-trans organisation, they are criticising ‘women.’[35] The ideology and action of anti-trans activists is substituted with a protected category (womanhood), by implying that any sane woman must be concerned by this apparent threat to her existence and must act accordingly.

Referring to anti-trans goals and opinions as the goals and opinions of ‘women’ conveniently erases the fact that many cis women are pro-trans, and also heavily implies that pro-trans activists consist solely of misogynistic cis men and self-interested/misogynistic trans women. The shadowy pro-trans mob, here, serves yet another anti-trans purpose. Pro-trans activism includes pro-trans cis women, who are the victims of misogynistic abuse, sexual violence and domestic violence at the same rate as anti-trans cis women. Therefore, pro-trans cis women must be erased if anti-trans cis women are to use their vulnerability to misogynistic violence to legitimise themselves as speakers.

Anti-trans activists often treat womanhood as a kind of victimhood that will absolve them of power and of blame. This is extremely effective, because anti-trans activists who align with feminism often aim to appeal to an audience that (correctly) believes that women are broadly victimised by men, but that is suspicious of more complex and intersectional discourses. (Some anti-trans academics, such as Raquel Rosario Sanchez, build their platform through being scholars of gender who reject contemporary intersectional gender studies, referring disparagingly to stereotypes of identity politics and ‘blue hair’).[36] Thus, the idea that only those who are ‘biologically female’ can experience misogyny, and the idea that cis assigned-female-at-birth people are the most marginalised gender identity in all situations, is taken as common sense.

Trans-exclusionary feminist activism is ultimately designed to benefit white, middle-class, feminine cis women. Positioning womanhood as good and manhood as bad actively erases the interactions of gender with class and race: for instance, women of colour are often typified by white people as ‘more masculine’, a racism which fully broke the surface in the Caster Semenya controversy, where assigned-female-at-birth athlete Semenya was called a ‘man’ and an infiltrator of women’s sport while also receiving vast amounts of racist comments.[37] Additionally, making ‘being a man’ synonymous with ‘being assigned male at birth’ implies that trans women have an experience identical to cis men, which is demonstrably false. Trans women experience heightened levels of sexual assault and domestic violence, experience misogyny like cis women do, while also dealing with an additional burden of transphobia and transmisogyny that cis men do not experience.

Blurring cis men and trans women together as a supposedly abusive and threatening shadowy coterie of pro-trans protestors means that cis men are described as de facto predatory and misogynistic (which is bioessentialist and thus furthers sexism), and means that trans women are considered identical to cis men, which should be proven false simply by the conduct of anti-trans activists. There are no subreddits being founded to mock the mannerisms and genitals of cis men; no anti-trans figures have been cautioned by the police because of their conduct towards cis men.[38] Meanwhile, implying that all pro-trans cis women secretly side with anti-trans cis women, but are either too scared to say it or have been coercively convinced otherwise, is a deeply sexist viewpoint.[39]

This performative universal victimhood serves only to shore up power, and to cement anti-trans academics as holding both the orthodox position (‘everyone thinks like us, but nobody actually wants to say it!’) and the countercultural position (power-deprived, unorthodox, cutting-edge, truthful). Meanwhile, pro-trans activists are supposedly establishment, but are deprived of resources and media coverage. Responsible coverage would pay due attention to the material conditions of pro-trans activists, to the true lived experience of trans people, and to the actual power possessed by a group that claims to be being silenced and censored while seeming to have no problem gaining speaking gigs, academic posts and supportive articles in mainstream publications.

The true danger posed to academic freedom by characterising protest and criticism as ‘abuse’ and ‘bullying’ far exceeds that supposedly posed by anti-trans academics being unable to express anti-trans views without consequences. The tokenisation of women’s trauma and the promotion of women as powerless victims furthers sexism from within the guise of women’s activism. And all the while, fighting against transphobia is criticised as either misogynistic or baseless.

It’s not difficult to see the faults in UK media coverage of trans people and trans activism. UK society and UK journalism simply refuses to recognise its blatant bias against trans people, and while that bias remains unchecked, trans people will continue to suffer and have their suffering ignored.

[1] https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-womans-place-is-at-the-lectern-tickets-75579284675

[2] I will elaborate on how WPU performs anti-trans activism under the guise of women’s activism in a further, dedicated article on ‘single-sex spaces’ rhetoric. Trans Action Oxford has published an open letter criticising the University of Oxford for hosting a WPU event (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1d4U5prqgrw7010u0iCY0W8S90iFBCSXrKVl-9NBTeVE/edit) and has recorded sources for their claims (https://twitter.com/transactionox/status/1186617629118738432).

[3] Two recent retweets: https://twitter.com/LabWomenDec/status/1197632160573861888 and https://twitter.com/Womans_Place_UK/status/1197061512529108992

[4] WPU retweeted this Tweet from Dr Nicola Williams, the director of Fair Play for Women, an anti-trans organisation associated with WPU: https://twitter.com/AskNic/status/1194974155776708608

[5] https://www.oxfordstudent.com/2019/04/29/oxford-professor-found-tweeting-transphobic-tweets/

[6] https://womansplaceuk.org/2019/11/04/one-possibility-susan-matthews-at-a-womans-place-is-at-the-lectern/. Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, or ‘ROGD’, is a diagnosis which purports to describe the onset of gender dysphoria in young people as sudden and as induced through wanting to copy the behaviour of trans peers; this is used to delegitimise trans children. The term is not recognised by any major professional association. The key study purporting to support ROGD (Littman 2018) – which namechecks Transgender Trend (https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0202330) – is highly controversial and was edited and republished following a post-publication review. A description of the controversy can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/22/rapid-onset-gender-dysphoria-is-a-poisonous-lie-used-to-discredit-trans-people.

[7] https://twitter.com/8RosarioSanchez/status/1190760837629300738

[8] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/lesbian-barrister-my-bosses-bowed-to-transgender-hate-mob-shm6x09v8

[9] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bullying-by-trans-student-at-bristol-university-could-cost-me-my-visa-7pzr3b7lv; https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/10/08/trans-activist-witch-hunt-against-academics-threatens-whole/; https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/lesbian-barrister-my-bosses-bowed-to-transgender-hate-mob-shm6x09v8; https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/27/trans-lobby-pressure-pushing-young-people-to-transition; https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/lib-dem-trans-activists-hounded-abuse-victim-b6dx39tv3; https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/stonewall-backing-transgender-bullies-slvn00vng; https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/03/transgender-activists-and-the-real-war-on-women/; https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/10/trans-rights-have-gone-wrong/.

[10] https://www.economist.com/open-future/2018/07/06/changing-the-concept-of-woman-will-cause-unintended-harms; https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/caving-trans-activists-always-have-eliminated-women/

[11] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/oct/30/uk-universities-struggle-to-deal-with-toxic-trans-rights-row

[12] Ibid.

[13] References to the ‘misogyny’ of pro-trans activists are common in anti-trans activism, particularly in far-right outlets such as Spiked: https://www.spiked-online.com/2019/11/05/the-trans-lobby-has-finally-met-its-match/. WPU’s reply to Trans Action Oxford’s open letter calls Trans Action Oxford’s rebuttals ‘misogyny in action’: https://womansplaceuk.org/2019/10/24/misogyny-in-action-a-rebuttal-of-statement-by-trans-action-oxford/

[14] https://womansplaceuk.org/women-have-the-right-to-self-organise/

[15] https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/12/women-are-abused-in-the-name-of-trans-rights-but-do-mps-care/

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid; https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/03/transgender-activists-and-the-real-war-on-women/. Many anti-trans activists argue that TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), a term coined by a TERF, is a misogynistic slur; this is a method of furthering the disingenuous argument that trans-exclusionary views are possessed by all cis women and only cis women, so criticism of those views must be misogynistic criticism.

[18] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/lib-dem-trans-activists-hounded-abuse-victim-b6dx39tv3; https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/oct/30/uk-universities-struggle-to-deal-with-toxic-trans-rights-row

[19] https://www.transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/USTS-Full-Report-FINAL.PDF

[20] https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/oxford-university-trans-report-transphobia-mental-health-discrimination-no-platforming-hate-crime-a8685651.html

[21] For example, this article mentions a ‘he’ shouting an abusive comment as the first point of the article: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/oct/30/uk-universities-struggle-to-deal-with-toxic-trans-rights-row. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/stonewall-backing-transgender-bullies-slvn00vng

[22] https://www.stonewall.org.uk/system/files/lgbt_in_britain_-_trans_report_final.pdf

[23] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/oct/30/uk-universities-struggle-to-deal-with-toxic-trans-rights-row for ‘don’t agree with’ and for Kathleen Stock’s complaint of being called ‘transphobic’; this article – https://www.feministcurrent.com/2019/04/10/i-supported-trans-ideology-until-i-couldnt-anymore/ – refers to the term ‘bigot’ as ‘name-calling’

[24] https://twitter.com/joss_prior/status/1138540135283400704; https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/12/05/trans-teen-lily-madigan-begs-the-media-and-anti-trans-activists-to-stop-attacking-her/

[25] https://twitter.com/Docstockk/status/1080825483825213441

[26] https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/12/women-are-abused-in-the-name-of-trans-rights-but-do-mps-care/

[27] https://www.reddit.com/r/GenderCritical/; https://www.reddit.com/r/itsafetish/; https://www.reddit.com/r/GenderCriticalGuys/; https://www.reddit.com/r/TrollGC/ – there are also various relatively inactive subreddits dedicated to anti-trans ideology, such as r/terfisaslur and r/transgenderkids, and various subreddits that are not explicitly dedicated to anti-trans ideology but contain a lot of anti-trans users and anti-trans content, such as r/truelesbians and r/truebisexuals.

[28] A few recent examples of suicide baiting: https://www.reddit.com/r/GenderCynical/comments/cr04e5/a_terf_messaged_me_this_after_i_posted_on/; https://www.reddit.com/r/GenderCynical/comments/db421l/terf_invades_rasktransgender_and_encourages_a/; https://www.reddit.com/r/GenderCynical/comments/cr134b/more_examples_of_terf_harassment_feat/. Some examples of abuse concerning trans women’s appearance are compiled in Natalie Wynn’s video ‘Gender Critical’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pTPuoGjQsI; https://np.reddit.com/r/itsafetish/comments/dw5bar/facebook_agps_vs_reddit_agps_my_findings_inside/; https://www.reddit.com/r/GenderCritical/comments/dsiqim/how_to_protect_my_child_trans_relative/, https://www.reddit.com/r/GenderCritical/comments/cntrsz/to_all_those_parents_who_do_not_support_their/; misgendering is constant in the comments in r/GenderCritical, but here are two examples – https://www.reddit.com/r/GenderCynical/comments/bafqcv/terf_misgenders_ftm_boyfriend_behind_back_what_a/, https://np.reddit.com/r/GenderCritical/comments/8olinn/uppercasechase_talks_about_his_youtube_channel/e04cndm/

[29] https://imgur.com/PyzQex9 (the Twitter account appears to have since been banned, so the original Tweet is inaccessible)

[30] https://www.reddit.com/r/TrollGC/comments/dr3bgz/stolen_from_twitter/; https://www.reddit.com/r/GenderCritical/comments/aju6ly/correlation_between_tims_and_anime/; https://www.reddit.com/r/GenderCritical/comments/dvfvfi/unremarkable_men_transitioning/

[31] https://www.reddit.com/r/NeovaginaDisasters/ – on 22/11/2019, while this article was being edited, r/neovaginadisasters was banned.

[32] After the Trans Action Oxford protest of the WPU Oxford event, various accounts claimed that Trans Action Oxford was lying about the attendance of the protest by using disingenuous photos of the protest after it had ended: https://twitter.com/Liz1985UK/status/1187990916566585347. Trans Action Oxford has footage of the protest at its height: https://twitter.com/transactionox/status/1188084600955920391.

[33] I conducted a brief analysis on the most recent articles that substantially discussed trans people/trans issues in various newspapers: The Times, The Telegraph and The Daily Express espoused primarily or entirely negative views about trans people, The Evening Standard and The Mail Online expressed a roughly even split between negative and positive/neutral content, and The Independent and The Guardian espoused mostly or entirely positive/neutral content. (The Sun and The Mirror were difficult to classify due to a high proportion of showbiz content, though anecdotally, The Sun appears generally trans-negative and The Mirror appears largely trans-positive.) This does not necessarily reflect trends over time – The Guardian was criticised by the US Guardian last year for an editorial on trans rights ‘colliding’ with women’s rights (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/02/guardian-editorial-response-transgender-rights-uk) – but it does paint a representative picture of what trans coverage looks like in the UK media. Also, even if a newspaper slants towards positive coverage of trans people, that does not necessarily mean it is willing to platform trans writers or to substantially consider the effects of transphobia on trans people.

[34] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/oct/30/uk-universities-struggle-to-deal-with-toxic-trans-rights-row

[35] Woman’s Place UK is an example of this: they tend to self-promote as wishing to make sure ‘women’s voices are heard’ (hence their stock event titles beginning ‘A Woman’s Place is…’, such as ‘A Woman’s Place is to be Heard’ and ‘A Woman’s Place is at the Lectern’, where the platforming of specifically anti-trans women is described in general terms as platforming ‘women’ and listening to ‘women.’ Preventing transphobic speech is often construed as ‘silencing women’ in media coverage: https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2019/05/women-are-being-silenced-from-speaking-about-transgender-rights/; https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/08/06/new-trans-orthodoxy-scaring-even-stalwart-organisations-silence/

[36] https://womansplaceuk.org/2019/11/08/a-womans-place-is-in-academia-raquel-rosario-sanchez-in-oxford/

[37] On the coverage of Caster Semenya and its intersections with transphobia and misogynoir: https://www.huckmag.com/perspectives/opinion-perspectives/the-caster-semenya-ruling-is-a-disgrace-on-the-sports-world/

[38] Graham Linehan, notable Twitter transphobe, has received a police caution for harassing, misgendering and deadnaming a trans woman on Twitter: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2018/oct/07/graham-linehan-police-warning-complaint-by-stephanie-hayden-transgender-activist-twitter. Posie Parker has been questioned under caution for Tweets against trans people: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/fighting-for-free-speech-in-uk.

[39] Anti-trans activists and transphobes use the term ‘handmaiden’ to describe pro-trans cis women, a term which hearkens back to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and which means that pro-trans cis women have been coerced to serve their oppressors. For instance, this repository of transphobic rhetoric refers to ‘liberal feminists’ as ‘handmaiden[s]’: https://www.peaktrans.org/terfs/