The day I’d had enough of media bullshit – guest post by Nikki O’Connor
Today is the day that I hit an all time low in terms of the British media’s distorted and dangerous comments about transgender people. And I need to vent!! How can we be in 2017 and the media still be publishing toxic bullshit that defines an entire group of humanity solely by the contents of their pants leaves me both breathless with astonishment and incandescent with rage.
However I am not surprised by the bigoted and ignorant backlash from the media. Just as trans activism and visibility permeates the public consciousness and starts to make waves, along comes the backlash tide of hate and prejudice to push us back under the water to drown our voices. Like society did with the women’s movement, with the gay revolution, with anything that’s revolutionary or speaks of freedom and authenticity.
I am the mother of a trans child and we have known since she was four. We let her find her own way, explore her identity and didn’t get third party specialists involved until it became a major source of fear and anxiety for her around 7years old. Many people in society accuse us of child abuse, or “persuasion”, or for hurting our child emotionally and setting her up for a lifetime of genital mutilation and hormone pumping. Ha! Let me tell you some of the realities. This is a dangerous and pernicious lie with potentially fatal consequences.
Until you are the parent of a trans child you have absolutely no idea what it is like. How hard it is. How you live in fear every day for your child’s safety at school, on the street, in adulthood. You think we choose or encourage this? What planet are you on?? Would you choose to see your child deteriorate into a panicked and confused state because “God made me all wrong”. Would you choose to watch your child cry themselves to sleep threatening to cut off their genitals because they hated their body so much? Would you encourage them to “jump on a trend” that made them ostracised, ridiculed, lonely and self-loathing. Would you – would you honestly and really do this? It that trendy enough for you?
Because it’s all so “new” isn’t it? Where have all these trans people suddenly come from? Let me tell you something. They have always been here – always, since the dawn of time. However, in recent years, they just hid themselves away because of ridicule, violence, ignorance and the fear that if they ‘came out’ they would lose their families, their homes, their jobs. Which they very often do. Hidden in the dark like dirty secrets. Made invisible by insulting and derogatory media coverage by writers who haven’t the faintest notion of what it is like to raise a transgender child. However, when brave progressive souls expose themselves, others follow. And then more. And more. And more. See? Always there. Never seen. Until the walls come tumbling down.
The media can call us bad parents for getting support and help for our children. Over 50% of trans children attempt suicide because of the ignorance and faux-protective bigotry of others. To use a somewhat hackneyed but nonetheless crucial phrase, I’d rather have a happy daughter than a dead son, so please spare me the misplaced concern about children who know who they are and who they are not. But kids don’t know who they are I hear them cry! They’re just kids! If they said they were a unicorn would you believe them? To patronise a child and deny them the authenticity of their feelings is both dangerous and incredibly stupid. If your child told you they were in terrible pain but you couldn’t identify that pain, would you believe them? What is even more callous is that the writers and pundits in the media would never question the authenticity of a cisgender child for stating that they are a boy or a girl – no that is perfectly acceptable to them.
It’s a unique and complex struggle and unless you’re in it you have no right to try and cover up unimaginable anxiety with such laughably unintelligent comments. People who take their children to GIC clinics do so to get support, information and advice. We are not there pumping children full of hormones or telling them to do anything other than explore their feelings, support their convictions and tell them their struggles will be heard. It is a long, long, slow journey that takes many, many years and it’s one that is done with love and support at its heart. So it’s time people got off their slippery soap boxes and educated themselves on trans issues before another few thousand dead trans kids fill the headlines of our shameful media tabloids, radio shows and television programs.
The contents of someone’s pants is nobody’s business but theirs. But then surely if a trans person goes into a gender specific changing room they will show everyone their genitals, right!? Of course they will! They’ll flash the parts of themselves they hate! Logical assumption people! Or, terrifyingly, a cisgender man will use a “trans” disguise to go into women’s cubicles and changing spaces to prey on girls!! Of course they will! Because there is no recorded evidence of a transgender person ever actually doing this! And of course cisgender men haven’t been raping, stalking, abusing and sexually exploring women and girls since time began, have they! Oh I see, they just need an excuse to put on a dress and then they have a reason to do it! Silly me!!! Just think it through for goodness sake.
But of course it’s a fad isn’t it? Like being gay! You just chose it on a whim! Headlines in the media such as “50 children a week now referred to gender clinics for treatment!” just fuel the flames of bigotry and claims of child-led PC craziness. Let’s consider that for a moment.
There are 66 million people in the UK with an average lifespan of 82. If 50 people are referred to specialists from now into perpetuity at an average of 15, that means that we’re talking about about 0.27% of the population seeing a specialist. Does 0.2% make a headline? Ha! Skewed and sensationalised statistics sell papers and perpetuates dangerous misconceptions.
But the media need these headlines to keep people locked into battle. Nothing sells paper like a bloody battle! What do the parents possibly know? What do the kids possibly know? They’ve just magically “turned trans” so they can be “turned back” right? Like all those gay kids whose sexuality wasn’t accepted by their parents and turned out to be straight! Didn’t they?? DOH!
But aren’t we all leading our poor unsuspecting kids (who think they are unicorns, because they have no minds of their own at any age) into the operating theatre for horrific irreversible surgery? Has nobody in the media heard that this isn’t even legal until adulthood?! Any clinical intervention prior to that is puberty blocking hormones which for the record is completely reversible and just a “pause” button on their puberty – and then, if they want them and if the medical team which comprises of different disciplines such as psychiatrists, psychologists, endocrinologists approve, then at the age of 16 or older cross-sex hormones might be given in accordance with strict NHS guidelines. These are in the vast majority of cases life-saving interventions that prevent excruciating emotional and psychological harm.
But all that physical change! It’s not right to tamper with nature right?! So how come cisgender adults can routinely have breast implants, penis enlargements, nose jobs, face lifts, vaginal surgery to “neaten the labia”, butt lifts, whatever! Who’s up in arms about that??! Why can’t a trans adult choose to change their body too???
I now need a stiff drink. It’s way past 2pm and there’s a bottle of Prosecco in the fridge. I’m going to celebrate being a parent who refuses to be silenced by the backlash media brigade. A parent who loves their kid and has their child’s back. A parent who has a beautiful, bolshy, sassy kid who won’t take shit from anyone. A kid who I’ve raised to grow one set of balls to replace another. A kid with hope that one day she can just be treated like everybody else. That should be a right and not a privilege.
If you’ve made it this far down my post then thank you – I applaud your tenacity – Nikki
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