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Media Transphobia 'Has to Stop,' Says Letter Signed by Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson signs open letter denouncing British media's coverage of transgender people.

Published by The Herald, the letter was signed by dozens of female celebrities, journalists, and women’s rights activists.

Dozens of prominent British women have signed an open letter denouncing news coverage that antagonizes trans and nonbinary people, particularly trans women.

More than 70 female celebrities, politicians, and women's rights activists -- including Academy Award-winning actress Emma Thompson, British Vogue columnist Paris Lees, and Scottish Member of Parliament Mhairi Black -- added their names to the letter, published by The Herald on Sunday, calling out "trans-exclusionary writers" who are "recycling outdated arguments" to produce reporting, analysis, and commentary that make trans people's lives harder.

"They do not speak for us," the letter reads. "Trans people have played an integral role in every civil rights movement to date; from LGBT equality to women's causes. Attempts to airbrush trans people from conversations regarding equality and human rights, or to exclude them from advancements for LGBT and women's rights, have happened before. Such efforts may have re-energised, but they are nothing new, and we say as a collective of women: they are not representative of us. We support trans rights."

For context, trans-exclusionary journalists and broadcasters have a much bigger media platform in the U.K. than their American counterparts do in the U.S. "TERFs have effectively succeeded in framing the question of trans rights entirely around their own concerns," explained feminist theorist and geographer Sophie Lewis in a recent New York Times op-ed. "That is, how these rights for others could contribute to 'female erasure.'"

Debate over proposed reforms to the country's Gender Recognition Act, which would make it easier for trans people to legally change their gender, have inflamed such debates in recent years. The letter urges journalists and news outlets to consider the impact of such debates on trans people, reminding them of their "ethical responsibility" to marginalized people beyond their newsroom.

"This has to stop," the letter reads. "We believe that national conversations about gender-based discrimination and violence are necessary, however these conversations should not in any way attempt to roll back the rights that trans people already have in Scotland, nor spread misinformation."

A similar letter of support was signed by the editors of many LGBTQ+ women's media outlets in December, including DIVA, Curve, and Autostraddle. Their "unapologetic message of support and solidarity to the trans community" is believed to have been written in response to the explicitly anti-trans turn that lesbian women's site AfterEllen took after Evolve Media purchased it in 2016.

RELATED | AfterEllen Was a Refuge for All Queer Women Until It Wasn't

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