No laughing matter: accusations of transphobia wrecked Graham Linehan’s life

Graham Linehan is an unlikely political campaigner, but in 2018 the sit-com writer embarked on a second career in what is possibly the most contentious and vitriolic arena of our time. According to Linehan, he was fighting for women and children, but his advocacy has cost him dear. Accused by his opponents of transphobia, he has found himself out of work and out of his marriage. Jobs began falling away, and a tour to Australia to teach comedy was cancelled In Tough Crowd, he tells the story of how he ‘made and lost a career in comedy’. It’s a tough read – a man who once made so many people

I feel sorry for those stupid enough to believe that ballet is racist or transphobic

Sick though one may be of the way that the poison dart of ‘woke’ is lazily flung at what is a real and complex set of problems, I fear that it’s deservedly winging its way towards Leeds’s Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Last month it announced that it would no longer require a competence in ballet for its auditions on the grounds that it is ‘an essentially elitist form’ built around ‘white European ideas and body shapes that are often alienating’. Stifle your groans for a moment, and let me unwrap this and offer some context. First of all, it is not uncommon for schools specialising in contemporary dance to

When I was the victim of a transphobic hate crime

The question was direct and to the point, ‘Are you one of them blokes?’ With those six short words, I was the victim of blatant transphobia. We have been advised to report such attacks. ‘We need the stats,’ explained one transgender campaigner in 2018. That was in response to ‘hateful’ stickers which read ‘Female is a biological reality’ appearing in Edinburgh. This attack was personal and in my face. But if this was transphobia, I was in no danger. The woman who asked the question was in her 60s, laden down with groceries and she would have needed to stand on a box for it to be truly in my

The SNP’s transphobia muddle

For a party so devoted to trans rights, it seems strange that the SNP is less than forthcoming over its new definition of transphobia that their National Executive Committee adopted in recent days. The mind boggles over what they may be hiding. Despite the twin pressures of Brexit and Covid-19, not to mention a key Scottish election three months away and the ongoing Alex Salmond affair, it seems that the party is prioritising the gender debate. As a trans person, even I am getting exasperated by this relentless focus.  Let’s be clear: transphobic hate crime exists but it is nowhere near as commonplace as the transgender lobby would like us to

The SNP was wrong to back down to the transgender mob

The SNP’s hate crime bill has done plenty of damage to the party’s credibility. But it seems the party leadership is determined to make matters even worse. The Scottish government has announced that it will withdraw an amendment to the bill that would have permitted free speech on transgender issues. This move, a capitulation to activists, puts fears about the legislation back at an all-time high. The trans debate is already one in which it is difficult to speak out for fear of being abused, so providing for free speech on this topic is critical. Failing to do so could leave people, and women in particular, open to accusations of

Why does Innocent think this pensioner is guilty of ‘transphobia’?

The trans debate can be a nasty one. And when women (and it usually is women) have the courage to speak out, they face being shamed and silenced. Their crime apparently is ‘transphobia’. But all too often, this word no longer means the hatred or fear of trans people like me. Instead, it refers to the simple act of disagreeing with an ideology that insists men and women are defined, not by their biology, but by feelings. Dame Jenni Murray, Professor Kathleen Stock, Joanna Cherry MP, Julie Bindel, and many other women have been hauled before a kangaroo court and been found guilty. But behind these high-profile cases, ordinary women face the same treatment. An

Eddie Izzard and the denigration of women

I’m done with being white. It’s boring. From now on I choose to identify as black and I insist that you all refer to me as a black man. Please do not mis-race me. Of course I am not going to do this because it would be mad and also a tad racist. Clearly I am not black. And I expect that calling myself black would be an affront to actual black people, who would rightfully point out that I am as white as the driven snow. ‘You can’t just put on the black identity like a piece of clothing’, they’d say, and rational people everywhere would agree. So why,

Suzanne Moore’s departure is a sad day for the Guardian

Who runs a newspaper – and especially a great liberal newspaper – in a digital age when liberalism often seems to be in retreat, menaced by its enemies internal and external? In the not-too-recent past, the question would be easily answered: the editor, supported by his (for in the past it was usually ‘his’) senior journalists ran the paper. Things are more complicated now. At least they appear more complicated at the Guardian and at the New York Times. At both papers, each the proud inheritors of certain liberal traditions, one may no longer say with confidence that editorial control of the paper resides with the editorial staff. This evening,