By Ollie Bell
This June, RTE’s Liveline dedicated a three-day-long debate with “The Countess”, a TERF (Trans Exclusionary “Radical” Feminist) organisation given enormous prominence. This group staged a protest outside the National Women’s Council of Ireland’s (NWCI) AGM after being denied entry when it sought to interrupt the AGM to protest the democratic re-election of Sara Philips, a trans woman and well-known LGBTQ+ activist, onto the NWCI’s board.
What followed was a deliberate distortion of the group’s intentions. Joe Duffy allowed members of The Countess to lie about how they were refused admission to the AGM for wanting to simply ask questions about NWCI’s position to remove the word ‘woman’ from legalisation.
This was a stark example of how the so-called ‘trans debate’, which started in Britain, has now reached the Irish media.
Trans community under attack
These events led to outrage among the LGBTQ+ community. Dublin Pride terminated its media partnership with RTE. But this wasn’t the last of the Irish media stoking the fires of an attack on the Trans community.
On the morning of 7 August, trans people across Ireland woke up to four articles dedicated to their lives in the Sunday Independent. One such article was titled, ‘The future will condemn us for pandering to the trans agenda’, while others spread misinformation about the Tavistock Clinic and the Cass report. All four articles were behind a paywall, meaning the Sunday Independent were using the anti-trans sentiment and ignorance present in society as a way to make a profit.
While Dr. Paul Moran has been heavily quoted in Sunday Independent’s articles on Tavistock and trans healthcare, no articles have been published on the dire state of the trans healthcare he oversees in Ireland. Nowhere is there mention of the real issues facing trans people in Ireland, such as the 6+ year-long waiting list, NGS’s outdated model of care or the increase of violence towards LGBTQ+ people.
The increase in anti-trans articles sparked Trans & Intersex Pride Dublin to organise a protest outside The Indepedent offices. This transphobic media storm coincides with the increase in violence towards the LGBTQ+ community, the most shocking of which was the murders of Aidan Moffit and Michael Snee in April.
The case of Enoch Burke
It is clear that the right-wing establishment is drumming up anti-trans rhetoric in order to divide the working class. The bigot Enoch Burke’s case is just one example of this. RTE, The Independent and The Irish Times pumped out articles with headlines carefully misrepresenting the reason Burke was jailed. You would be led to believe that he was jailed for refusing to use a trans student’s pronouns. To many so-called free speech advocates, Burke is seen as a martyr against ‘transgenderism’ and was wrongfully jailed for standing up for what he believes in.
What really happened was a series of events that led to the school having to take legal action. A High Court injunction was sought after Burke had repeatedly shown up to school despite being suspended. He was jailed on 5 September, not for his beliefs or the schools, but for breaching the order.
Profiting from lies
The facts of the case wouldn’t have generated as many clicks, however. So to try to grab people’s attention, clickbaity titles focusing solely on the pronoun issue were used. What The Independent and many other Irish media outlets are doing is profiting from spreading misinformation and misrepresentation of the trans community.
The media is a non neutral body, ultimately it reflects the outlook and prejudices of the capitalist system and will use every tool it has to divide and rule the working class. This mud be opposed. We must build a multi-gendered, multi-racial working class movement that fight for a socialist society based on true equality and this allow the poison of prejudice to fester and grow.