Why the media lies about trans people’s objectives and intentions

An LGBT+ Pride march in London, 2010. Marchers are holding up a banner by the campaign group Press for Change that reads: ‘Respect and Equality for All Trans People.’
A trans campaign banner at Pride London, 2010. From WikiMedia Commons. [https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Respect_and_Equality_for_All_Trans_People_(4764133272)_(2).jpg].

The trans community is a demon to the British media. Our political objectives are dismissed as vacuous, politically correct nonsense, our motivations are questioned at every turn, and, most significantly, we are scapegoated as the apotheosis of a wider effort to wipe out free speech. We appear as public enemy #1 in mainstream news outlets, whose hatred for us and our alleged debate-shyness seemingly knows no bounds.

It was not without reason that Christine Burns, a leading light in the first wave of UK trans activists, described the British press as ‘the single most terrifying force in the lives of…

Why did a parenting resource site become an echo-chamber for Trans Exclusionary Feminism, and what does it tell us about extremism on social media?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash.

In March 2018, a small group of cisgender feminists gathered at a south London swimming pool, announced that they ‘self-identify’ as men, and gate-crashed a men-only event.¹ Some wore fake beards. The pool’s regular patrons were more confused than outraged.

The group had met and organised the stunt on the Mumsnet message boards. It was intended as a protest against trans women using women-only spaces, and, more generally, against potential reforms to the UK’s Gender Recognition Act 2004 that would enable people to self-identify their legal gender.²

As weird and comical as it seems at face value, the swimming pool…

Groundbreaking books that will change your perspective on the trans past

Photo by Tom Hermans on Unsplash

LGBT+ History Month comes around every February in the UK (and October in the USA) to commemorate and celebrate the queer past. Emphasis is usually placed on the history of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, with the ‘T’ being an afterthought. Some people aren’t even convinced that trans people have much of history, believing that trans identity was invented by liberal busy-bodies and ‘snowflakes’ sometime after the Second World War.

Quite the contrary. Trans history is now a burgeoning field with a growing list of innovative texts for readers to choose from. …

A trans historian’s reflections on the past and future of trans identity

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

February in the United Kingdom marks LGBT+ History Month, a tradition initiated by a Missouri schoolteacher in 1994 and celebrated at different times of the year around the globe.

While gay and lesbian history has become relatively well-known over the past two decades, trans history remains an uneasy addendum to the commemoration merry-go-round. Every year, the effort to foster public awareness of trans history runs into the pervasive belief that trans identity was invented recently by medical quacks and Millennials/Gen Z. Convincing society that the trans past is even real remains an all-consuming preoccupation.

Historians have proposed a number of…

Trans Pride, Brighton, 2018. Photo by author.

After more than fifteen years of tireless campaigning and awareness-raising, the British trans rights movement was disappointed in the summer of 2020 to hear the UK Government reject plans for a significant reform of the Gender Recognition Act (2004), which gives trans people limited rights to change their legal gender. They were even more dismayed to hear government ministers justify the decision by referencing the arguments put forward by so-called ‘Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists’.

But what is this controversial brand of feminism, and how did it become so influential in the United Kingdom?

The label ‘Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist’ (TERF)…

How conspiracy theorists laid claim to a vanished colony of Norse Greenlanders

‘Summer in the Greenland coast circa year 1000,’ by Carl Rasmussen, 1874. From Wikimedia Commons.

Around the year 985 AD, on the rocky southeastern shores of Greenland, a small community of Viking settlers laid down their roots.¹ The homesteads they erected formed the northwestern extremity of a Viking trade network that spread all the way to North Africa, the Middle East, and China.² This proved a relatively stable arrangement until sometime in the fifteenth century when European traders permanently lost contact with the Norse Greenlanders. What had become of them, or whether they still lived, was up for speculation.

We now know that the Norse did not survive long after becoming isolated. Whether they were…

Exploring and explaining the conspiracy movement’s harmful views on trans issues

A common QAnon logo atop the trans flag. Image created by the author.

QAnon, one of the defining conspiracy movements of our time, is a socially conservative system of thought that mobilizes mass disinformation in service to the Make America Great Again (MAGA) ideology of former President Donald Trump. Its followers see foul play around every corner.

QAnon adherents associate progressive causes like LGBT+ rights and feminism with the movement’s arch-enemy, a powerful (and fictional) set of pedophiliac elites who run the world behind closed doors. Die-hard believers often see trans people as one of the most insidious Trojan horses deployed by the evil cabal.

This is despite the total absence of trans…

How Nazism nearly destroyed the little Principality — and how it survived

The Liechtenstein flag with the crown in the top-left corner replaced by a Nazi swastika.
Nazi sympathisers in Liechtenstein wanted to replace the crown on the country’s flag with a swastika. This mock-up was created by the author.

Friday, 24 March 1939 — Spring had just begun in the Principality of Liechtenstein, a tiny pocket of sovereign land nestled between Austria and Switzerland. The First Austrian Republic, a shadow of a once sprawling Austrian empire, had been absorbed by Adolf Hitler’s Germany just one year prior.

The fall of Austria brought soldiers of the Third Reich to the borders of the defenceless and officially neutral micro-state of Liechtenstein. While fear gripped most Liechtensteiners, die-hard Nazi sympathisers welcomed the potential Anschluss (unification) with Germany. True to Nazi form, they plotted a putsch — a violent takeover of power —…

The Transgender Pride Flag flies on the Foreign Office building in London on Transgender Day of Remembrance, 20 November 2017. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Transgender_Pride_Flag_(37827573944).jpg.

Since the passage of same-sex marriage into law in 2013, proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2004 have been at the forefront of the British LGBT+ rights movement. The Act provides a very limited process by which trans people can, through the approval of a panel of medical experts and bureaucrats, attain legal recognition for their gender identity in the form of a Gender Recognition Certificate and an altered birth certificate. …

Left: Donald Trump at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference. From Wikimedia Commons, under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Right: Rudollah Khomeini in Neauphle-le-Château. From Wikimedia Commons, under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Critics of Donald Trump have been scrambling for the last four years to find appropriate historical comparisons that help us make sense of the sheer awfulness, the cataclysmic incompetence, the undisguised racism, and the antidemocratic impulses of the 45th President.

From other terrible US Presidents like Warren G. Harding and James Buchanan, to nationalist strongmen like Benito Mussolini and Vladimir Putin, to Adolf Hitler himself, exhausted commentators have plumbed the depths of available comparisons.¹ Nothing seems to capture the essence of this deplorable, buffoonish man.

However, there is another, less obvious comparison that may help us understand at least one…

Rebecca Jane Morgan

Historian of modern Britain, popular culture, and queer identities. PhD student, trans activist, and Quaker from South Wales. She/her pronouns.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store