16 January 2013
The Green Party has called for the Observer to drastically change its approach to trans writing after an article by Julie Burchill first published in the paper caused outrage across its readership and the wider world.
The article, Transsexuals should cut it out, written by the freelance journalist and published as a comment piece in the Observer, has been widely condemned across the trans community. The Green Party’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) Group said: “We are shocked and dismayed that free speech is being used to defend and promote an outpouring of prejudice and hatred attacking a minority: the Trans community”.
“Whilst the Green Party defends a free press, there is no doubt that had there been an equally vicious racist or homophobic article, it would not even have been presented to the editors in the first place.”
“Sadly transsexuals are still considered by many to be easy game.”
“The trans community are an extremely marginalised group. The extent of discrimination in housing, employment – not to mention health care – faced by trans individuals can be extremely damaging and disruptive.”
The LGBTIQ Group also highlighted the work that the Green Party has recently undertaken working with and listening to the trans community: "Brighton and Hove council, led by a Green Party majority, has set up a cross-party scrutiny panel including independent advisors and of course local Trans individuals, to investigate how to tackle the inequalities faced by the Trans community. After lengthy consultation, the panel are finalising work and will be bringing the report to a council committee on Monday 28th January.”
After admitting to the “hurt and offence” caused by Burchill’s article, the Observer has since removed the piece from its “Comment is Free” site, and editor John Mulholland has published an apology.
The Green Party LGBTIQ Group, in a statement released today, said that this apology does not go far enough, and particularly "does not explain how such abusive and prejudicial language can be seen to be ‘an attempt to explore contentious issues’".
The group added: “One of the most important methods of improving the lives for Trans people is for better information to increase understanding and acceptance.”
“In view of this, we call on the Observer to publish a positive article on Trans issues, ideally commissioning an article from a Trans author.”