Julie Burchill

Is a ‘Transgender Day Of Remembrance’ really necessary?

Is a 'Transgender Day Of Remembrance' really necessary?
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On hearing that a ‘transgendered flag of remembrance’ was being flown by a government department for the first time (the Department of Education, on November 20th, the Transgender Day Of Remembrance) I was reminded of that old line about prison food - ‘It’s rubbish, and there’s not enough of it!’ It seems the height of duplicity that the sort of people who would mock a flag being flown to support our war dead (indeed, they might well use it as an excuse to break out the DIE TORY SCUM spray-paints) suddenly approve of running a bit of flimsy tat (which looks unpleasingly as if an Argie flag got put in a washing machine with a job-lot of red bedding) up a flagpole to celebrate a man’s right to tuck his tail between his legs and call himself Linda.

[caption id="attachment_9316502" align="alignnone" width="620"]The flag was raised above the Department for Education to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance. The flag was raised above the Department for Education to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance.[/caption]

My scepticism was further teased when I found out that the brains behind it was Nicky Morgan - so good, as the old song almost said, that they named her twice, as Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities - who spoke thus:

‘I’m proud that for the first time a government department is flying the transgender flag – a mark of respect for all transgender people who have suffered discrimination and lost their lives due to hatred, violence, and prejudice. We have come a long way when it comes to raising awareness and increasing support for transgender individuals. But we must continue to make further progress and ensure all members of our society can live their lives free from fear, and able to fulfil their potential.’

Of course I’m aware of the old Emerson saw that ‘a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds’ but the fact that this was the very same Nicky Morgan who a mere two years ago voted against gay marriage did make my nostrils flare somewhat at the suspicion of a whiff of cattle waste in the air. Oddly she changed her mind the next year, saying that she wished supporters of same-sex marriage had been more vocal about their position before the vote - which is a bit like asking Mariah Carey to sing up.

And how adorable to hear Jeremy Corbyn offering his ‘good wishes to all those campaigning for the rights and equality of transgender people. It is not right that any person, anywhere, should face suffering or persecution because of their gender.’ Let’s hope he has a word about this with his mates from Hamas and Hezbollah next time they’re out on the town for a few Cosmopolitans - maybe he could even bring it up during his proposed negotiations with Isis. They like to throw LGBT people from the roofs of high buildings and we in the wicked West like to fly flags on government buildings for them - maybe there’s a happy medium we could agree on, like throwing flags off of high government buildings?

There’s no doubt that transgendered people have a high chance of leading sad, confusing lives. They are vulnerable to physical attacks from stupid people and low sarcasm from smart people like me. The Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in the USA in 1999 in honour of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was murdered in Massachusetts; this year it coincides with an investigation being launched into the death of another transgender woman, Vicky Thompson, in a men’s prison. Every transgendered death is a tragedy and, as a lifelong believer in capital punishment, their killers should, in my opinion, be executed. But two women a week are murdered by partners and ex-partners - are they going to be given their own flag on government buildings any time soon? How about the victims of so-called honour killings, murdered by their own barbaric families? Little children, beaten, tortured and/or raped to death by both strangers and parents? When do they get their flag?

It’s the word ‘remembrance’ that jars. While individuals will always remember loved ones who died before their time, I don’t see why the transgendered dead deserve their own national day of mourning any more than the groups I’ve mentioned above. I very much doubt whether the government is going to put more money into detecting and punishing the violent criminals who attack and kill these poor creatures, so the flag seems something of a sop - like giving someone with a grim job a fancy new description rather than a raise. There’s an air of ‘because you’re worth it’ about the enterprise which I find patronising and pointless.

There’s also the point that the transgender lobby has hardly covered itself in glory over recent years, with its repeated and revolting attacks on veteran feminists who were knocking themselves out to improve the position of the most vulnerable people in our society when Paris Lees and her mates were making makeshift tissue-paper tutus for their Action Men. Feminist campaigners from Suzanne Moore to Germaine Greer have been threatened with everything from no-platforming to death (it’s hard to know which one bothers us media whores more) while actresses like Alice Eve and Rose McGowan have been hounded on social media for daring to express the personal view that the monumentally narcissistic and self-promoting Caitlyn Jenner may not be the actual Second Coming. In a supreme act of pitchfork-waving ponciness, the veteran transgendered activists Ru-Paul and Jayne County have been demonised by people who have never flushed an enemy’s wig down a toilet in anger in their lives. And these caterwauling cry-bullies deserve their own flag?

So as the world tears itself apart, we are instructed by the government to commemorate a sect who spend their lives looking down their knickers and swooning at the wonder within. Contemplating one’s navel has long been understood as describing someone so involved with their own small cares that it has rendered them insensible to the reality of the world; contemplating ones genitals while Rome - and Paris, and Palmyra - burns appears to be the default setting of this new crew. And as they’re so keen on giving natural-born women nasty-sounding names - cis, TERF - please let me return the favour.

Do you believe in the existence of a male brain and a female brain (what next, a black brain and a white brain)? Do you habitually use Feminist as an insult (far more than the Tories do these days)? Are you so entrenched in male-born privilege that you yowl for every space to be a safe space except for the ladies lavatories, where a woman who seeks the right to change a tampon away from pre-op transgender people is called a ‘trans-exclusive’ fascist? Does a Conservative government fly your flag and float your boat? Congratulations, you’re a TRANSERVATIVE!