Recently there has been an outbreak of outrage, since it became more widely known that the UK LGB organisation Stonewall (their website describes the organisation as being for the rights of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals) lists someone named Julie Bindel as a nominee for their Journalist of the Year award.
Most of my information regarding this has so far been sourced from auntysarah
. Her posts so far can be found as follows: Down With This Sort of Thing Too
; Bindel's Found Us
; Bindel/Stonewall Update
; Second Letter to Stonewall
The primary objection is that Julie Bindel is transphobic and deserves no award or nomination to honour her journalism, especially not from any organisation which claims to support the rights of queer people.Some of what she wrote in 2004
, in which she makes her disrespect for the lives and identities of trans people:
It's not all bad news, however. The British Columbia supreme court in Vancouver recently overturned an earlier decision of the human rights tribunal that Vancouver Rape Relief had breached the human rights code when it refused to allow Kimberley Nixon, a male to female transsexual, to train as a counsellor of female rape victims. In 2002, Nixon had won $7,500, the highest amount ever awarded by the tribunal, for injury to "her dignity".
The arrogance is staggering: having not experienced life as a "woman" until middle age, Nixon assumed "she" would be suitable to counsel women who have chosen to access a service that offers support from women who have suffered similar experiences, not from a man in a dress! The Rape Relief sisters, who do not believe a surgically constructed vagina and hormonally grown breasts make you a woman, successfully challenged the ruling and, for now at least, the law says that to suffer discrimination as a woman you have to be, er, a woman.
I am incandescent with rage at this nonsense, fed up
with radical feminists pushing the absurd idea that the motivation for trans people to transition is a desire to conform to ridiculous stereotypes of gendered behaviour. It is plain wrong to attribute this shallow caricature of a motivation to trans people; for anyone to do so suggests ey is either ignorant of the subject or speaking from bigotry or malice. Bindel also, by the way, expresses disappointment in the existence of butches and femmes.
In 2007 Bindel tried to distance herself
from some of the language she used in the previously linked article (such as the phrase 'man in a dress'), but the core of her ignorance (or lies, pick one) remains:
Feminists want to rid the world of gender rules and regulations, so how is it possible to support a theory which has at its centre the notion that there is something essential and biological about the way boys and girls behave? As someone who spurned dolls and make-up as a child, I find it deeply troubling that, had I gone to one of the specialist psychiatrists while growing up and explained how I did not feel like a "real girl" (which I did not, because I wanted to be a lesbian), I could be writing this as a trans man.
Again, this is not true. In at least most cases transsexuality is about remapping body to match body image, not a desire to act out stereotypes of gendered behaviour, or a belief that behaviour dictates gender and prescribes sex.
That she claims criticism of trans people is forbidden among liberals is a bit hilarious.
If, as she says, "My concerns about the increasing acceptance of "transsexuality" as a diagnosis are based upon my feminist belief that it arises from the strong stereotyping of girls and boys into strict gender roles[,]" then she can go home comforted by the assurance this is not the case.
During the debate I argued that sex change surgery is modern-day aversion therapy treatment for homosexuals. The highest number of sex change operations take place in Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death. Sex change surgery, therefore, renders gays and lesbians "heterosexual".
And this is bizarrely wrong. The situation in Iran is dreadful, and those laws need to be changed, but to generalise the situation there to everywhere else is ridiculous. There are some people, even trans people, who argue the purpose of transition is heteronormativity, but that position is bigoted whoever claims it. Again, Ms. Bindel seems to be entirely ignorant about what a trans person is, acting as if transition is something always forced upon people and not a choice made or actively pursued.
Forbidding people and to transition and requiring they be treated for a 'psychological problem'? That
would be more like aversion therapy, forcing people to live and suffer in ways deeply distressing to them.
I probably could have let those quoted portions of her articles stand as they are, but I did not feel right presenting them unaddressed.
For those who would be in the area, there is a protest
Date: Thursday, November 6, 2008
Time: 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Location: Outside the Victoria & Albert Museum
Street: Cromwell Road SW7 2RL
City/Town: London, United Kingdom
There is also a petition
which can be signed; I signed a couple of nights ago.
Finally, like many people, I emailed Stonewall last night:Very disappointed to see Julie Bindel nominated for Journalist of the Year. With the views she has printed and publicly expressed about trans people she would be a better candidate for Bigot of the Year. Or would Stonewall be equally disposed to nominate someone who argued that some other segment of the population should be erased from existence? I would hope not, although if not that would suggest Stonewall as an organisation is specifically transphobic, rather than merely callous to the situation of those outside the boundaries it has declared for its scope.
Bindel did not to the best of my knowledge make such an argument. If she had perhaps it could be said she was being honoured for her work concerning the queer community and with no regard to any other aspect of her life. Instead she argues that many members of the queer community be denied their rights, be stuffed back into the closet, and their identities further invalidated. She would have many gay men made to live as and pretend to be heterosexual women. She would have many lesbians made to live as and pretend to be heterosexual men. This is reprehensible, and no one who advocates such a position should be honoured by any organisation claiming to represent lesbians, bisexual persons or gay men.
Not long after, I received the same form reply so many others have:Dear Johann,
Thank you for your email.
Julie Bindel was shortlisted for a Stonewall award in recognition of her journalism during the last 12 months which often brings a lesbian perspective into the mainstream press.
The awards nominating panel are not endorsing everything she has ever written. A nomination in any category does not mean that the awards panel agree with all of someone’s opinions. Stonewall recognises that some people may disagree with shortlisted nominees.
[letter not presented entirely unedited - I reduced the spacing between paragraphs and changed the font]
Now composing a further and not at all pleased reply.