Friday, 17 October 2014

That Spectator article by Brendan O'Neill

Say what you like, the trans world (like any other minority group) has eyes and ears, and can judge as well as anyone else. Some trans people have a public presence and can speak out against whatever seems wrong or prejudicial. A few shout a little too vehemently, and that attracts the attention of journalists looking for a good article to write.

This brings me on to a piece just published in the Australian version of The Spectator magazine, which you can read at I found out about it by reading Dru Marland's blog ( I saw that nearby blogger Andie Davidson ( had seen the article too, and had actually made a comment. Dru had declined to fan the flames, but had written a post about it. I decided to do both.

Nowadays I reckon my trans credentials are pretty thin. Essentially I'm post-trans. The process is finished, bar endless refinement and finishing off my electrolysis. People in general - I mean neighbours, the new people I meet around the country, and so forth - treat me as if it's all over and done with, to the extent that it seems pointless to ever bring up the subject. I really only talk about trans stuff on this blog, and with other trans people. Nobody else.

My blog is now all about my antics on holiday and things like that, and not much about the issues that gravely concern those teetering on the edge of transition, or swimming for their lives in it. And I dare say I've lost popularity with the trans world, because I want instead to discuss ordinary things - ho hum topics like rag rugs, say - or at least things that seem irrelevant to someone on the rack about whether, or when, or how, to commit themselves to a very different life that may destroy everything they have previously valued.

Even so, I know I will never lose the marks and legacies of the former existence, nor cease to be aware of how much my remaining life will be an ongoing compromise. So I haven't at all turned my back on the trans world, nor other trans people. And although I'll never now become an activist, nor would want to be, I am most definitely a supporter and upholder of the principle that trans people are part of humanity and require fair and equal treatment.

In this case, journalist Brendan O'Neill, to earn a few dollars, has been rather snide and nasty. He's had a go at the people who give the trans world a bad name. I don't think he understands much about the real issues. That, of course, never stopped a competent writer from turning out a publishable piece that will sell well and keep him (or her) solvent - and serve to enhance their reputation.

You can read my riposte if you follow the Spectator link above (scroll down quite a bit for the Comments section), but I reproduce it here anyway:

This sort of stuff sells magazines and so long as it does journalists will be able to make a living. If the public mood changes, another subject will get written about, and journalists will have to adapt.

I can't tell if Mr O'Neill really holds in private the views he has expressed, so it's pointless having a go at him. He may be sincere, or he may not. I suspect he is just cynically doing his job.

The article is certainly critical of trans activists with a strident political agenda. In so far as these people transgress the ordinary bounds of proper behaviour I'd say they set themselves up for a backlash, including a degree of ridicule and demonising. As any 'extreme' group could expect.

I'm trans myself, but I quietly get on with an ordinary life, and the straightforward contentment that brings is proof to me that (a) my life is true and natural, and (b) it's all about personal feelings. There's nothing to debate. I took my feelings about myself to the medical world and got fixed at my own expense, and I see that as the best thing I ever did. It was a break with convention and the culture of accepting the identity thrust on one at birth. I feel I acted honestly.

The activists are of all sorts. The ones who engage in undramatic but insistent pressure for change have my tacit support. The ones on a hate offensive do not. As for people who claim to be, say, women, but keep the appearance of men, what can one say? Why wouldn't a genuine woman be frantic to lose all signs of excessive hair growth, and get voice therapy? So I too don't 'get' performers with beards.

The spotlight is on women escaping from a male appearance. Don't forget the men escaping from a female appearance. And the ones who cope with a life as a 'normal' masculine-looking woman, or as a 'normal' effeminate man, who may not reckon themseves to be trans, but might be. All of us are to some extent touched by transness, just as all of us are touched by gayness. In most, obviously, the touch is unnoticeable. In some it is more evident. And in some it's the driving force. Think of a spectrum.

Articles on any topic like this one play on the widespread human fear of being different. Most of us are timid sheep, who play for safety. That's why it's easy to see the ones who turn their lives around not as heroes and possible role models but as a dreadful menace. Wolves, in fact. And you know what happens to wolves. People want to shoot 'em.

Lucy Melford

It was useful to write that. I'd wanted an opportunity to encapsulate my current attitude on trans matters, and where I stood. Even if it's wasted on The Spectator, I can repost this anywhere I like now, as a standard comment to make whenever someone sounds off against brave men and women struggling to escape from their birth appearance, and the social conditioning that was thrust upon them without the option.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely put Lucy. Sadly we are still the last easy target for lazy and insecure journalists...


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