Media Hate

The day I’d had enough of media bullshit guest post by Nikki O’Connor

Media articles can lead to severe depression in transgender childrenToday 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[1]. 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.

The Tavistock Centre - UK's only GIC for transgender children and adolescentsIt’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???

[1] Stonewall – School Report 2017

The post has had by far the most views to date and is therefore nominated as the best post for October/NovemberBest post winner for October.November 2017

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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11 Replies to “Media Hate”

  1. I love this paragraph:-
    “But kids don’t know who they are I hear them (the anti-trans cabal) 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?”

    Of course they would, they would rush them off to their GP immediately and demand that their child is listened to – and if not satisfied would seek a specialist’s second opinion. That is what good parents do – they don’t tell them that they are confused and that they will grow out of it.

  2. Beautifully and forcefully expressed, as it should be. What a horrible few weeks it has been in the media for trans people in general and trans children in particular. I remember back when I was in school (in the ’90s, which should have been a more progressive decade) and badly wanted to come out in school as trans, but it just seemed too terrifying a step to openly take at the time, with no offers of support anywhere. It is sickening to think that is just the level of non-support these wretched journalists consider to be right and proper for the trans kids of today to be receiving, in the hope that sheer desperation will make them “choose normal.” My best hope is that their panic over all this is indicative of a hopefully irreversible movement in the right direction …

  3. Dear Nikki,
    I just read your defence of your daughter against the immoral media. Actually, I don’t think evil is too strong a word for the human detritus that attacks children like your daughter. I totally agree with Eleanor Burns – beautifully put and forcefully expressed.
    I grew up trans in the 60’s, sick to death of the media. I think we need to get better organised to fight back and support each other. Do you have good support?

  4. Dear Nikki,
    Having just read your Blog my heart goes out to you. Mainly because every terrible shameful thing that you say is true. Hopefully one day (And that is what we live for) XXX

  5. Dear Nikki

    What a fantastic mother you are. Your daughter is going to be fine with you by her side and, as she gets older, she’ll draw on the courage you are giving her. I wish you both love and strength to be who you are.

  6. I’ll admit that, as someone who is almost a year into accepting that they’re on the trans spectrum (at 47!) and still coming to terms with things and exploring this side of me, I’m starting to find the media onslaught both wearing and angering in equal measure – and I rarely bother to look at media these days. But it really does feel like the 1980’s all over again at times.

    IPSO are apparently toothless, so what to do? Not worked that one out yet, but writing and sharing articles, blogs and comment pieces like this all help, so thank you.

    Most people really dont understand trans stuff, because they dont experience it and have no frame of reference, which is where better education etc comes in – especially when its such an emotive subject, and doubly so when kids are involved. That education isnt there yet, and the media reaction is part of trying to get it in place.

    But as a whole, people really dont like change, more so when its a change to one of the fundamental premises of society. Societal change is slow and painful, even when its peaceful.It encompasses many generations with entrenched ideas, across class, political and religious lines. That’s a lot of hurdles, some we will jump, others we will stumble over.

    But keep doing what you’re doing – helping your child find and be themselves – even though its damn hard. To me, that’s a luxury I was never afforded (quite the opposite) and a sign of increasing progress and awareness. And talk to the kids who are in college and uni now – by and large, they get it – so theres hope and optimism for the future.

    Best wishes to you and your family

  7. I’m sure you’re doing the right thing for your daughter. (I think you know this, but I also think you need to hear it). I’m sorry there are so many bloody-minded people, and I’m sorry parts of the media stir up the hate.

    I think it’s rather hopeful that the bigot who introduced the bathroom bill in Virginia lost his seat to a transwoman recently. I hope your daugter will live to see a world where people wonder what all the fuss was about, like most people do with gay or interracial marriage.

  8. I wish, wish, wish that my parents were as supportive as you. Every goddamn thing said in this blog is right (save the non-inclusion of nonbinary people but whatever that’s probably somewhere in it and I just can’t read) well done, keep marching on and those people who say you’re abusing your child are abusers themselves.


      Everything that absolutely needed to be said and everything I kept wanting to say myself.

  9. Well said Nikki! I’m a trans female who came out at the ripe old age of 59. The last year and a half while transitioning have been the toughest of my life but I can barely imagine the hurt, rage and frustration you must feel when you are attacked for simply loving your child as they are and my heart goes out to you.

    I read this article because I recently cancelled my subscription to the Times (which you’d think would have a better standard of journalism) but I got sick and tired of every day seeing an article whose conclusion was either:
    1) trans females are faking it to abuse ‘real’ women
    2) the all powerful trans lobby are shutting down reasonable debate
    3) said lobby are persuading innocent children to be trans and then force feeding them hormones
    In the end I cancelled not as a protest but rather self preservation. Reading your comments helped express the anger and frustration I was feeling inside and really helped me – thank you.

    Love and big hugs, Frankie

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