Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Trans Media Watch gives its evidence to The Leveson Inquiry

TMW submitted their written evidence today. If you visit The Leveson Inquiry website you can read that submission, and also a transcript of the oral evidence given in the afternoon to Lord Leveson in court by Ms Helen Belcher for TMW - you need to read pages 36 to 69. (I'd put in a link to click on, but for some reason Blogger refuses to let me)

I think TMW have made a pretty noble effort. I do hope it has the desired effect, which is to put in place some recommendations that should clean up the press reporting of events or issues that involve trans people.

The examples given of prejudicial or damaging articles directed against trans people - either individually or as a group in society - seem well-chosen and fair. You do wonder at the corporate mentality of the newspapers concerned. Do they really think that this stuff could interest anyone of intelligence and proper feeling? Or do they simply want the money, and are prepared to publish any salacious rubbish to that end?

TMW's examples of bad journalism hurtful to trans people are disturbing. And it's more than just the disrespectful tone. The basic approach of these articles - as I apprehend it anyway - reminds me of how the repression and persecution of the Jews, gypsies and other 'degenerates' began in Germany during the 1930s. And in other places too, wherever there are those who are well-protected and those who are not. First you single out your chosen scapegoats; then you ridicule them; then you attack them; then you dehumanise them and strip them of all their rights. No doubt the staff on some of these papers have absolutely no intention of provoking the outrages characteristic of the Nazi regime. But those who read these papers, and unthinkingly lap up what they offer as 'true news', might totally accept what they read, and decide that trans people - whether children or adults - deserve to be harmed. It is right to stop this tendency going any further.

No doubt the press will pick holes in the evidence put up by TMW. For instance, I spotted one very minor inconsistency concerning the true cost of NHS genital surgery for MTFs, which was '£10,000 to £15,000' in one place but '£12,000 to £15,000' in another. In fact this wouldn't alter one whit the basic point being made: that the true cost of genital surgery is nowhere near the £60,000 carelessly being quoted by the online version of The Express newspaper. Express reporters please note: I paid £10,500 to have it done privately a year ago.

So well done, TMW.

I noticed however that nothing about this evidence made the main BBC news in the evening. The triumph of a certain Mr Redknapp over the HMRC was clearly more important. In case you weren't aware of it - why should you be? - Mr Redknapp is an important football manager. Oddly enough, he claims to be so unlettered that he can hardly scribble a sentence, nor type out an email on a computer. Perhaps just the sort then to be influenced by the humorous, lowbrow, easy-to-digest style of one of these offending tabloids.


  1. There used to be a saying in press circles, 'Publish and be damned'. Unfortunately that attitude has the effect of damning the minority in society.

    Shirley Anne xxx

  2. Lucy,
    Your analogy to anti-semitism in Nazi Germany is spot on. When the Nazi's burnt "degenerate" books in Berlin in 1938 Bertold Brecht made the comment : The society who burns books will soon burn people" : how true was that.
    Football I am afraid is the new Opium of the people and the Redknapp/Terry saga proves that. It provides good opportunity to bury bad news. Syria got relegated to the back end of the BBC news bulletins the other night as football related matters dominated the news. The "Ministry of Truth" loves it!!!!!!



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