An Actually Seriously Worrying Case About Trans Rights

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Sourced from our usual depositary of everything wrong about trans rights and complaints there’s this story about a woman on the Times.

O’Donnell alleges multiple counts of illegal behaviour towards her after she transitioned to female, and her claims lift the rock to show a “boy’s club” of entrenched sexism, bordering on misogyny. But the case also introduces something that hasn’t previously been tested. Buzzfeed: O’Donnell and her lawyer… allege that it wasn’t just what happened in the newsroom but also what those inside it published in the newspaper about trans people that constituted a hostile, transphobic place to work. If O’Donnell wins, newspapers and other media outlets would have to reconsider their reporting of all minorities – not just gender and sexual minorities such as LGBT people, but anybody with a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. Content that bullies and demonises groups would be considered workplace bullying.

Now of course Carrie is all in favour of this. But Carrie should be – as we all should be – very scared of this, very scared indeed. Frightened fecaless at the thought that anyone would put such a right into law.

For, what is being argued is that a newspaper printing stuff which would, if said to a member of staff be counted as breaching the rights of that protected class, is in itself breaching the rights of that protected class on the staff.

No, really:

On another occasion in 2014, she wrote to Witherow about a “virulently transphobic” opinion piece by a freelancer who had previously said they would refuse treatment from a GP if they were trans. Although the article was not published, the fact it was commissioned and considered for publication concerned O’Donnell. She said she was also alarmed that Witherow did not respond to the email. At the tribunal, however, Callan countered that opinion articles were meant to “stimulate debate”. The Times’ counsel also referred to an internal email from Witherow to the assistant comment editor referring to O’Donnell’s note: “Does she not have a point?” How, the lawyer asked O’Donnell, does that violate your dignity? “When I read this piece,” began O’Donnell, “it made me cry… it was such a foul piece, and derogatory,” about trans people to the extent that it led her to wonder, “how can my editors not see that this is an awful thing?”

Now, we’re obviously against such things because we’re adult and sensible. Someone having the vapours because a columnist is being a meanie can bugger off. Rod Liddle should indeed be allowed to refer to poofters and shirtlifters – if he wishes to – whatever the sexual activities or views upon them of a section editor at The Times. Well, assuming that it’s some other section, not the one commissioning Liddle. In fact, thinking of the section and editor I am thinking about he’d be very much more vociferous on this point than I am.

And here’s the reason why Carrie should be equally opposed:

If O’Donnell wins, it could also set a precedent for news covering a range of minorities that are protected under the Equality Act 2010 from discrimination and abuse: gay people, disabled people, BAME people and those from different faiths.

Religion’s a protected characteristic. Some religions being markedly opposed to what some of those with other protected characteristics get up to. Using the logic being argued here we could then see observant Muslims arguing that a newspaper publishing a piece arguing that gays shouldn’t be thrown off buildings are creating a hate filled climate for them. The Muslims, not the gays. Even, an adherent of the Iranian Mullahs might argue – as they do – that male on male attraction should be solved by either hanging or forcible conversion to a newly female being attracted to males. Which is how some plurality of the Iranian Women’s soccer team was born male.

The mistake that’s being made here is to assume that if these “rights” are made more general, that it will be the rights that protect you which will be. And let’s be honest about it, what do we think is true? That there are more trans people around or more heavily religious opposed to such trans issues? So, who’s going to win if newspapers can’t publish stuff which offends staff with a protected characteristic?