Why do I risk everything to battle the madness of the trans activists? What’s my endgame? It’s simple. I am concerned about women losing their words, safe spaces and sports to fanatics who denounce the very idea of womanhood. I want to reveal the havoc gender identity has wrought on society, expose those who enabled it and help to bring about its end.
I flew into this battle full of beans. The beliefs of the other side were so insane I thought my friends would quickly realise how crazy it all was and start lending a hand. I believed it was only a matter of time before they would fly to my aid, the satirists, the stars, the progressives, the feminists… those I’d made famous with the TV sitcoms I wrote, and who had made me semi-famous in return. I thought they’d be along any minute.
But to my astonishment, no one turned up. I begged friends to say something about how children shouldn’t be undergoing experimental treatments with no evidence base, about the crime against humanity that is telling gay and autistic young women that if they only removed their breasts then they would be happy. But most stayed silent.
Instead, I was cancelled. Friends were ghosting and blanking me, not returning calls, giving my wife grief on the phone, writing nasty letters about the importance of kindness, and perhaps worst of all, sympathetically nodding while telling me why they couldn’t get involved.
From the start, I was subjected to waves of activists on Twitter. First came anonymous violent threats, then hot on their tail the ‘trans ally’ celebrities who didn’t understand the issue beyond the opportunity it gave to broadcast their virtue and harass me.
From the start, I was subjected to waves of activists on Twitter. First came anonymous violent threats, then hot on their tail the ‘trans ally’ celebrities who didn’t understand the issue beyond the opportunity it gave to broadcast their virtue and harass me, writes GRAHAM LINEHAN
One of the cast of teen comedy series Derry Girls (a product of Hat Trick, the same production company as Father Ted) started campaigning for my removal from Twitter. Pretty soon the public perceived me as toxic and they also tuned me out. I was targeted, too, by a media eager to find some dirt on me. Gender-goofy newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent interviewed colleagues of mine to get them to condemn me, which many were delighted to do.
The LGBTQ+ website Pink News – which reports few gay issues and even fewer lesbian ones, existing primarily to pump out trans propaganda – has to date written more than 75 hit pieces on me, all of them designed to paint my perfectly commonplace beliefs as evidence of bigotry and madness. There’s no doubt about the sheer scale of the media machine that makes this happen. If anyone edits my Wikipedia page to say ‘campaigner for women’s rights’ (which is what I am) rather than ‘anti-transgender activist’ (which I most definitely am not), the edit reverts back within 15 minutes.
The ideological capture of the media is such that, if a celebrity comes out as trans or non-binary, they fall over themselves to use his or her new pronouns. When this involves the use of ‘they’ for a single individual, it tends to make an article unreadable. It’s even worse with news reporting involving those who identify as trans – notably on the crime pages.
The more-captured-than-most Independent ran a story headlined ‘Armed and Dangerous’ about a woman sought for allegedly killing her boyfriend and brother.
You had to do some puzzled digging before you discovered that the ‘woman’ was a man and the ‘boyfriend’ a woman. Through a gentle tweak by an unseen hand, the meaning of essential words had been changed, and journalists used this planted evidence to pin the blame for a horrific episode of male violence on women.
A lot of people trying to shame me into silence will say, ‘Why do you care so much?’ The implication is that a concern for women’s rights (normal, explicable) is actually an obsession with trans rights and is bigoted and deranged.
But trans rights only become an issue when they negatively affect women’s rights. There aren’t too many areas where these conflicts come into play. However, when they do, it’s devastating. All over the world, male prisoners are being admitted to women’s jails if they announce they’re trans, and female prisoners run the risk of receiving extra time on their sentences for ‘misgendering’ these opportunists. ‘Misgendering’ became taboo practice because of the combined efforts of trans activists and the privileged members of the laptop classes enforcing the new orthodoxies but it’s a taboo that has been imposed without debate or consent.
Which is why, according to our new ethical overlords, an Oscar-nominated actress has re-emerged as a man called Elliot Page, and activists and ‘progressives’ consider it a hate crime even to mention Elliot’s former name.
But these taboos, supposedly driven by ‘kindness’, empower the most dangerous men in society. If we rewire our brains to such an extent that we see men as women, it will be easier for opportunistic predators such as Adam Graham – the double rapist almost admitted to a Scottish women’s prison by Nicola Sturgeon’s government – to access single-sex spaces across society, not just in prison.
The young actors from the Harry Potter series of films instantly betrayed J.K. Rowling. If I were a star who had never shown any ability to act past the pre-pubescent level that got me into the business, I’d be keeping my head down, not signing statements insinuating that my old mentor was a bigot
No matter how many times I explained all this, the same question kept coming, over and over. ‘Why do you care so much?’ All I could say was: ‘Why do you not?’
The intercession of the most famous children’s writer in the world in the trans debate was a moment when I thought the argument would shift decisively in my direction. So beloved were the Harry Potter books, so impeccable were J. K. Rowling’s socialist credentials, so compelling her backstory, she would be listened to.
But no, not a bit of it. HMS Rowling – which had piped on board generations of children, and taught them to read for their pleasure and then for their children’s pleasure – was deserted faster than a plague ship, so taboo were the author’s perfectly commonplace views on women’s rights.
The young actors from the Harry Potter series of films instantly betrayed her. If I were a star who had never shown any ability to act past the pre-pubescent level that got me into the business, I’d be keeping my head down, not signing statements insinuating that my old mentor was a bigot.
Those actors – Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint – deserve to be remembered as symbols of the most remarkable arrogance, cowardice and ingratitude. But asking what Rowling actually said that was so terrible produces nothing. You’ve never seen a transphobic statement from J. K. Rowling because none exists.
Another time I thought the argument must surely be won by my side was when Martina Navratilova, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, publicly addressed the problem of male cheats in women’s sports. I thought, well, Martina is golden; she’s a lesbian icon, she even had a trans coach, so they had nothing on her.
I reckoned without Anthony Watson, a gay British businessman who is on the board of a leading American LGBT group. He told Martina she should be ashamed of herself. Watson lobbies for this, the most homophobic movement in history, which tells children who would otherwise likely grow up to be lesbian or gay that they’re born in the wrong body and need lifelong medicalisation. He’s scarcely a public person, whereas it’s hard to think of a more iconic gay figure than Navratilova. It was a big shock to me that such an inconsequential character could talk to a lesbian hero like that.
There’s a crucial question in the trans debate we rarely hear asked, let alone answered.
Quite simply, what does ‘trans’ mean? Does anyone know? I have never heard the same definition twice.
I used to think it meant transsexual – those who suffered terribly because of a disconnect between how they saw themselves and how the world saw them and it was impossible not to sympathise.
Your heart goes out to anyone with so debilitating a condition that they take drastic steps – often life-shortening, always irreversible – by means of surgery and medicines to bring reality into line with a vision of themselves they can’t shake.
Society treated them with a fair degree of respect. The Gender Recognition Act of 2004 encoded their vision of themselves into law and the Equality Act 2010 protected them from discrimination by including gender reassignment in its list of protected characteristics.
All this seemed admirable, society doing its best to help troubled people. Crucially, it was only a tiny subset that these laws were serving.
But one day, early in my fight, a comedian friend complained that ‘Terfs’ (‘trans exclusionary radical feminists’) had ‘hurt my trans friends’. I was mystified. Trans friends? How many did she collect? How was she continuously encountering what we were always told was only a tiny portion of society?
It occurred to me that maybe ‘trans’ did not refer to transsexuals. This was borne out by a look at the glossary provided by Stonewall, the LGBTQ+ lobbying group.
TRANS: An umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth.
HMS Rowling – which had piped on board generations of children, and taught them to read for their pleasure and then for their children’s pleasure – was deserted faster than a plague ship, so taboo were the author’s perfectly commonplace views on women’s rights
Those actors – Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint – deserve to be remembered as symbols of the most remarkable arrogance, cowardice and ingratitude
There are a few problems here. First of all, sex is not ‘assigned’ at birth; it is observed and recorded, often before birth.
And what exactly is ‘gender’? GENDER: Often expressed in terms of masculinity and femininity, gender is largely culturally determined and is assumed from the sex assigned at birth.
Stonewall’s site lists all the individuals supposedly encompassed by those categories: Transgender; Transsexual; Gender-queer (GQ); Gender-fluid; Non-binary; Gender-variant; Crossdresser; Genderless; Agender; Nongender; Third gender; Bi-gender; Trans man; Trans woman; Trans masculine; Trans feminine; Neutrois.
Note that transsexual is second on the list.
The same Wikipedia which has been smearing me as a bigot for years lists a few more, which I include here mostly for their comic value: Omnigender; Graygender; Eunuch Pangender; Neurogender; Man of trans experience.
I haven’t made any of these up. No wonder my comedian friend was suddenly swimming in ‘trans’ people if anyone could call themselves one.
This was around the same time that Stonewall began to push for what is known as self-ID. This would mean that, if you were a man who wanted to legally change your sex, all you had to do was declare yourself a woman. If this idea were enshrined into law, any chancer could put on some purple lipstick and invade women’s spaces, such as changing rooms, toilets and rape-crisis centres. Self-ID didn’t just unlock the hen-house for any passing predator; it scattered a buffet of treats to lead it to the door.
The more I looked into the issue, the more I found that ‘trans people’ covered too many different experiences to be a useful phrase. It described young women who were succumbing to a new, more viral form of anorexia that caused them to remove their breasts and take drugs that gave them the dubious gift of male-pattern baldness.
It also described middle-aged men who decided to leave their families in order to live as clownish visions of the women they had fallen in love with online. And it covered young men disgusted at what they felt was their own toxic masculinity, and young men who enjoyed nothing better than indulging in it. These groups had little in common with each other. ‘Trans’ was not a stable category.
While there’s no precise data on the ‘transgender’ population in the UK, estimates suggest it is around one per cent, which means roughly 670,000 people. Other information suggests the majority of trans-identified males retained their penis.
These weren’t transsexuals. These were just men, acting under a variety of motives, some benevolent, some far less so. But crucially, under self-ID, there was no way for women to tell the difference.
This led me to investigate some of the people being protected by this uniquely violent form of discourse. I’ll give just one example, but a significant one: Aimee Challenor.This individual began dressing in girls’ clothes and using the name ‘Aimee’, and immediately gained a crucial upgrade in social status by suddenly qualifying as a ‘transgender teen’. In Aimee’s home town of Coventry, local LGBT groups and progressive political organisations became ‘allies’.
Over the next few years, Aimee’s political career and online profile could not have been hotter: Aimee joined the Green Party and within two years became its national spokesperson for equality. By the age of 20, Aimee was running for deputy leader of the party, and was celebrated with a fawning profile in The Guardian.
Aimee was also advising on safeguarding in institutions such as Girlguiding, MI5 and the NHS as a member of Stonewall’s Trans Advisory Group.
Footage of Aimee at an Oxford Union debate reveals an awkward young person with no charisma, ability or insight, an unexceptional talker and thinker repeating trans-activist talking points to yet another docile audience too cowed to ask questions.
This swift rise took place under the close supervision of Aimee’s father David, who also went into the Green Party. Despite the fact David had been charged with raping, kidnapping and torturing a ten-year-old girl, Aimee appointed him as election agent.
David Challenor is now serving a 22-year sentence for tying the girl to a joist in the attic of the family home, where Aimee also lived, and raping her and torturing her with electric shocks. The Green Party launched an inquiry, but long before this reported back, Aimee cried ‘transphobia’ and ran into the welcoming arms of a bigger party, just as eager to climb aboard the trans bandwagon: the Liberal Democrats.
They dumped Aimee less than a year later when it emerged that the activist was engaged to marry an American named Nathaniel Knight, who openly bragged on social media that he had written pornographic stories about molesting children.
Having crossed to the US, Aimee became an influential moderator at the social media behemoth Reddit. With a much older, cross-dressing friend, Peter ‘Katrina’ Swales, the pair used his grip over LGBT social media to silence critics who brought up safeguarding issues around trans activism, such as vulnerable minors being targeted and groomed by adult men with fetishes.
Aimee was brought on to Reddit’s payroll after becoming so powerful at the corporation but was then dropped when Reddit users started asking questions. It’s widely believed that Challenor continues to moderate a swathe of Reddit’s forums.
Another time I thought the argument must surely be won by my side was when Martina Navratilova, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, publicly addressed the problem of male cheats in women’s sports
I have some sympathy for Challenor. But I have nothing but contempt for politicians, charity bosses and journalists who thrust Aimee into the spotlight, abandoning all critical thinking on hearing the word ‘trans’ and silencing whistleblowers who tried to raise the alarm.
Challenor is one example of what I called a ‘central outlier’, someone supposedly unrepresentative of the ‘trans community’ yet who was lauded and promoted within it.
There are others. The muddiness of the word ‘trans’ empowers opportunistic men, even as it disempowers children and women.
When the internet turns on you, as it did the moment I entered into the debate around women’s rights v transsexuals’ rights, it isn’t pretty. What I find particularly galling is that I remember how excited I was when the internet arrived in our lives. The future was bright. We had an instantaneous method of communicating with practically anyone. In this new world of transparency and connection I simply couldn’t imagine how an epoch-defining darkness such as the Holocaust could ever occur again.
If we were all keeping an eye on each other, then everything should be fine, shouldn’t it? We now know differently – that it is possible for a group such as trans rights activists to poison the internet’s nervous system, to use it to overwhelm society with so much misinformation that reality itself warps and woofs.
The most extreme voices are finding it too easy to steer others who have less certainty about their opinions, who have a desire to be told what the right thing to do is so they can go and do it.
Not bad people. Busy people, who are nevertheless well-meaning.
But when we trust the cat’s cradle of gossamer-thin connections we’ve made online and fail to check the reliability of primary sources, we leave ourselves open to having our society hacked by a conspiracy of online weirdos who know what buttons to press to make life’s vending machine give them what they want.
© Graham Linehan, 2023
- Adapted from Tough Crowd by Graham Linehan (Eye Books, £19.99) to be published October 12. To order a copy for £17.99 (offer valid to 15/10/2023; UK p&p free on orders over £25) go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 31