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Index for censorship plans for dialogue on trans issue
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Imnobody4 · 17/10/2020 10:27

www.indexoncensorship.org/2020/10/we-need-to-end-the-abuse-around-discussions-of-feminism-and-trans-rights/
We need to end the abuse around discussions of feminism and trans rights

09 Oct 2020

BY RUTH SMEETH

Free speech is difficult. It should be difficult. After all it protects our right to say things contrary to popular opinion. It protects the minority view. It facilitates debate. It provides the legal framework for protest. It allows people to tell their own stories. Most importantly it moves society on.

It’s why we so desperately need to protect our right to free speech, to cherish it and fight for everybody to be able to use it.

Index was founded to do just that. To cherish the concept of free speech. To expose repressive regimes who were censoring their citizenry and, when necessary, stand up against restrictive practices in our own countries. And for the last 50 years that’s exactly what we’ve done.

What we weren’t established to do was to pick a side on any individual issue that is currently being debated in society. It will surprise none of you that I have quite strong personal opinions on most issues and so does every member of our team, but Index’s job is solely to make sure that other people’s voices can and should be heard if they are being silenced. In the words of Stephen Spender, one of our co-founders, to be a voice for the persecuted.

Which brings me to the current discourse on gender and trans rights. I think we can all agree that this has become increasingly toxic. There is limited constructive dialogue, a huge amount of hate and little meeting in the middle ground to discuss practical ways to come together. Far too many exchanges are now less about the issues themselves, and more about whose side you are on – or even worse, about who has the right to participate in the conversation. The discussion has now switched from one embracing free speech to one of informal censorship.

When we talk about a chilling effect in the public space it is embodied by this issue. Some are genuinely scared to engage in any of the issues for fear of abuse. Members of the trans community, who face daily intimidation and persecution, are rarely being heard at all, as others silence them by claiming to speak for them. This is helping no one.

Index will be launching a new work stream in 2021 to build spaces for dialogue on this subject and others so that people can come together to air issues and find constructive ways forward. But in the interim I want to make it clear what our position is.

All women, whether a successful novelist like JK Rowling or a struggling blogger expressing their gender identity, have a right to their opinions and a right to have those opinions heard.

Death threats, online bullying and attempts to undermine people’s careers are unacceptable. We stand against this censorship. We stand in solidarity with the targets of this abuse and we will fight for their right to be heard.

Trans people face daily persecution and are subject to some of the most appalling abuse in society. Their voices, apart from a few limited exceptions, are not being heard. They have stories to tell but they are being largely censored. We stand in solidarity with them and we will ensure they too have a platform.

These positions aren’t contradictory and they shouldn’t be controversial in the UK in the twenty-first century. As ever Index does and will always stand against censorship.

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RozWatching · 17/10/2020 10:57

Glad to see this, I won't nit-pick but tbh I thought IoC had lost their way a bit since Jodie Ginsberg stepped down, and this doesn't totally fill me with confidence.

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Cascade220 · 17/10/2020 11:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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WeeBisom · 17/10/2020 11:15

I find it interesting that we are told that trans people are incredibly vulnerable, subject to appalling abuse , daily persecution but we aren’t told that it’s these same victimised trans people who are sending death and rape threats to women.

I’m also getting fed up with this claim that trans voices aren’t being heard. I think considering they are a tiny segment of the population their voices are incredibly amplified. Off the top of my head I can think of Paris Lees, India willoughby, Munro Bergdof, Alok, Katelyn burns... I’ve seen countless documentaries about the trans experience - about trans men giving birth, trans kids, trans surrogacy. I just find the claim that trans stories and voices are being silenced. If this is silence then what on earth is full coverage like?

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Aesopfable · 17/10/2020 11:16

Death threats, online bullying and attempts to undermine people’s careers are unacceptable. We stand against this censorship. We stand in solidarity with the targets of this abuse and we will fight for their right to be heard.

Trans people face daily persecution and are subject to some of the most appalling abuse in society. Their voices, apart from a few limited exceptions, are not being heard. They have stories to tell but they are being largely censored. We stand in solidarity with them and we will ensure they too have a platform.

Death threats, online bullying and attempts to undermine people’s careers are unacceptable. We stand against this censorship. We stand in solidarity with the targets of this abuse and we will fight for their right to be heard.

Trans people face daily persecution and are subject to some of the most appalling abuse in society. Their voices, apart from a few limited exceptions, are not being heard. They have stories to tell but they are being largely censored. We stand in solidarity with them and we will ensure they too have a platform.

Remind me again who is making the death threats and to whom? Remind me which voices are controlling the debate? Who is being publically funded to the tune of millions of pounds to ensure their voice is heard? Who is going into schools, public bodies, government and the police to promulgate their voice?

Angry Angry Angry Angry

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Aesopfable · 17/10/2020 11:19

Index for censorship censoring the actions of transideologues.

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Imnobody4 · 17/10/2020 11:26

Yes that was my gut response - disappointment, really miss Jodie. No debate was the TRA mantra and they should own that, it's a movement predicated on the destruction of freedom of speech. Claims of being silenced are absurd unless you're talking about Miranda Yardley etc.

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Thesuzle · 17/10/2020 11:27

The persecuted will always feel persecuted, if the persecutor does not agree with them. Certain factions of society have tin ears with regards to everything, and shout loudly at the rest of society when they perceive any slight no matter how small, they see it is their right to be offended (about anything), whilst not acknowledging the rights of others with opposing views.

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OldCrone · 17/10/2020 11:28

Index on Censorship don't seem to be very well informed. Have they never heard of the BBC, the Guardian, the Labour Party or the Scottish Government?

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JellySlice · 17/10/2020 11:30

Members of the trans community, who face daily intimidation and persecution, are rarely being heard at all, as others silence them by claiming to speak for them.

This is a valid point.

Shame, though, that they condemn the unspecified 'appalling abuse' that trans-identifying people get, but not the clearly specified rape threats that gender critical women get.

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RozWatching · 17/10/2020 11:35

Why does it not state that the death threats, bullying and undermining careers is directed at women?

I'm hoping it's only because Ruth Smeeth isn't fully up to speed.
Most people don't realise how long it has been going on, they think JK Rowling started it.
But yes, the "we're here for the persecuted - trans people are persecuted" framing is unduly emotive and slanted for IoC.

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OldCrone · 17/10/2020 11:39

I'm hoping it's only because Ruth Smeeth isn't fully up to speed.

In that case it would just show how effective the silencing of women has been and how well the 'no debate' censorship strategy has worked.

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FloralBunting · 17/10/2020 11:42

Well that's a nicely weighted statement. Tres objective.

Biscuit

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ARoombaOfOnesOwn · 17/10/2020 11:54

You do wonder about the effectiveness of an organisation such as this when they can completely misunderstand a situation that is supposed to be their area of expertise.

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highame · 17/10/2020 12:53

So you're shooting it down before seeing the possibilities?

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FloralBunting · 17/10/2020 13:06

I'm not shooting it down. I'm greeting a statement that mentions women once, and is heavily stressing the oppression and suffering of trans people without mentioning the same of women, with lukewarm curiosity rather than eagerness.

I'm very jaded after seeing statements more promising than this turn out to be dust and vapour.

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picklemewalnuts · 17/10/2020 13:11

Be Interesting to see how it develops with time and attention.

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Thelnebriati · 17/10/2020 13:43

@highame

So you're shooting it down before seeing the possibilities?

No, the statement itself is being critiqued, because it is biased.

Why is the debate being presented as 'feminists vs trans activists'?
Why is the 'both sides as bad as each other' narrative included?
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AchieveBelieve · 17/10/2020 13:46

They probably think they’re being incredibly balanced and fair by even allowing the mention of JK Rowling in that release. That’s enough to bring in a lot of criticism and accusations of bias from the TRAs. Giving the benefit of the doubt, I am thinking the transgender people that are ‘most vulnerable’ and who are not being heard aren’t the ‘choke on my dick, ‘die in a grease fire’, ‘TWAW’ mantra changers, but the ones who are thinking ‘WTF’ has happened in the past 10 years - how am I viewed the same as some teenager who is experimenting with their sexuality and identity and declaring themselves neither male or female? There are plenty of former ‘transsexuals’ out there as cynical and as disinclined to open their mouths about the subject. Let’s hope they get the chance to speak too. The crazy voices need to be put in their proper context because at the moment they’re occupying the former mainstream.

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MissMarplesGlove · 17/10/2020 13:55

The problem is when people/organisations call for a respectful calm debate, they say stuff like this:
Trans people face daily persecution and are subject to some of the most appalling abuse in society. Their voices, apart from a few limited exceptions, are not being heard. They have stories to tell but they are being largely censored. We stand in solidarity with them and we will ensure they too have a platform.

Without acknowledging that women are abused and persecuted daily, from the most "ordinary" catcalling in the street (sexual harassment by any other name) through to an average of 2 women a week murdered. With stops in between at 15% sex pay gap, redundancy while pregnant, coercive control, domestic violence ...

If organisations want to name the harm done by discrimination towards transwomen, they must also name the everyday sexism and extreme misogyny that 51% of the population have to deal with as a "normal" part of being alive.

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SebastianTheCrab · 17/10/2020 13:58

Trans people WOMEN face daily persecution and are subject to some of the most appalling abuse in society. Their voices, apart from a few limited exceptions, are not being heard. They have stories to tell but they are being largely censored.

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NiceGerbil · 17/10/2020 14:05

I love the way they say we're not here to pick a side and then firmly pick a side Grin

Even the nod to women is watered down.

'All women, whether a successful novelist like JK Rowling or a struggling blogger expressing their gender identity, have a right to their opinions and a right to have those opinions heard.'

So jk Rowling, and someone who is trans (male or female).

They just couldn't help it could they.

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Cascade220 · 17/10/2020 14:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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DonkeySkin · 17/10/2020 14:23

The main difficulty with having a dialogue about trans issues is that the core demand by those who claim transgender status is the demand that other people treat them as a sex which they are not.

This demand can be managed to an extent by politeness (i.e., other people pretending that they don't notice the sex of a person who claims transgender status), but inevitably at some point politeness will clash with reality, especially when other people's needs (e.g. women's need for sex-segregated sport) are impacted.

That's also where free speech comes into it. Trans ideology, with its foundational claim that people are whatever sex they say they are, is incompatible with free speech, because it is based on a lie. Indeed, it requires massive government and institutional repression in order to maintain this lie. Witness what is happening in Ireland with the Barbie Kardashian case, especially in regard to press freedom.

Unless Index on Censorship grasps this point, I fear that any attempt at dialogue won't get far.

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stumbledin · 17/10/2020 15:40

So right down to the second to last paragraph I thought they were going to do what they are meant to do.

But then suddenly it is made perfectly clear that they have taken a side.

It would have been so easy to have had a line mentioning death threats to women, and all the other oppression.

But no, they have to show that they too are part of the work rainbow coalition that demands that we must all bow down and acknowledge that the most oppressed are those identifying as trans.

I'm afraid it seems to me the tide isn't turning. The tsunami of trans rights above everyone else's rolls on. So many institutions captured.

Angry

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Ereshkigalangcleg · 17/10/2020 15:42

It wasn't feminists who started #NoDebate

Just look at what happened when Venice first tried to organise a debate...

Exactly.

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