Why I’m Not Buying The Guardian Anymore

This is painful. Aside from The Guardian newspaper being one of the few independent and largely reliable news sources available, it is also a newspaper I’ve been reading since I was a kid. Over the years, as I’ve travelled round the world I would by The Guardian Weekly to catch up on UK news and later would subscribe to the newspaper electronically.

The backlash against recognising the basic human rights of transgender people has taken many forms. It is no surprise to find right wing extremists demonising and dehumanising people because of their gender but the anti-trans element of the centre & left has also been vocal, particularly in the UK. In the process supposedly progressive voices have adopted far-right rhetoric and modes of argument to push positions that will make life as difficult as possible for transgender and gender non-conforming people.

The Guardian and it’s Sunday equivalent The Observer appears to have had a degree of internal conflict over the past few years. Opinion pieces pushing alarmist arguments on the topic of people transitioning or transgender people in sport have been frequent. However, the agenda against transgender people has extended into news articles.

Consider this article:

Politicised trans groups put children at risk, says expert:Counsellors and other mental health providers fear being labelled transphobic.
School counsellors and mental health service providers are bowing to pressures from ‘highly politicised’ transgender groups to affirm children’s beliefs that they were born the wrong sex, a leading expert has warned.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/27/trans-lobby-pressure-pushing-young-people-to-transition

Once you get into the article it becomes clear that what is being cited is the opinion of just one person. However, the structure of the headline and the piece is designed to create the impression that these are all likely events corroborated by an ‘expert’ as opposed to this being an inflammatory opinion by a guy with an beef against his ex-employer. More pertinently nowhere in the article is any space given to anybody to refute these claims. Specifically no spokesperson for any “trans groups” is asked for comment, no school counsellor or mental health service provider who doesn’t think they are “bowing to pressure” is asked.

The article breaches multiple aspects of The Guardian’s own code of conduct (https://www.scribd.com/document/273521476/Editorial-Guidelines#fullscreen&from_embed ) most obviously Article 2 of the Editors Code “Right to Reply”.

The hostility to transgender people within The Guardian has also become clear with at least two people having resigned because of a culture of intimidation: https://www.buzzfeed.com/patrickstrudwick/two-transgender-employees-quit-guardian-transphobia

This shouldn’t be hard. It really shouldn’t. I understand that shifting attitudes and just simply paying attention to the issues is something that many progressive cisgender people have had to work through — I know I have had to dump a whole pile of toxic ideas and casual assumptions. However, there’s some basic touchstones of human decency that should set off alarm bells for anybody who regards themselves as not just progressive but basically a decent human being: if you words and attitudes and opinions are DIRECTLY HURTING PEOPLE then you have a moral obligation to STOP and reconsider.

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24 thoughts on “Why I’m Not Buying The Guardian Anymore

  1. This is not a surprise. The Gnauriad has supported and given notorious TERF Julie Bindel a platform since at least 2004.

    That they’re transphobic themselves is sadly nothing new.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m one of the (US) readers who had no idea. Ugh. I’ve certainly had some issues with the Grauniad lately, but mostly in terms of the highly uninformed ax-grinding that makes up a lot of their US-based op-eds (if I want to read the 10,000th piece about how only [pick author’s idol] can save the Democrats from themselves and everyone else can go to hell, I can find that plenty of places, it’s not what I’m looking for in an international paper)… but I hadn’t seen any of this particular ugliness. Very sad.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As another example, they employ Harriet Sherwood for writing about the Israel-Palestine-conflict. She has previously been their Jerusalem correspondent and Foreign editor.

    But she’s also a member of the deeply racist pro-Israel organization “Honest Reporting” with the tagline “Defending Israel From Media Bias”. An organisation that routinely defends war crimes, ethnic cleansing and land theft.

    Not one penny to The Guardian as long as they employ defenders and PR-agents for apartheid.

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  3. Yep. And their agriculture coverage is not at all trustworthy. They announce the funding, yeah, but they did get a significant grant from a group connected to animal rights advocacy to write a series of anti-animal agriculture articles. So not at all trusting that aspect of their coverage, either. I knew about the transphobia, and had raised my brows at the Israeli-Palestine coverage. Sigh.

    Anyway, here’s the link to the bit about the animal ag issue.

    https://ghgguru.faculty.ucdavis.edu/2019/03/18/guardian-and-opp-ink-deal-to-pen-stories/?fbclid=IwAR3W_je1e0Msol1KIE1uBKxlAiiTIR5YoLxOqPfoA0p-8_GEDmOR0kuwvW8

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  4. i usually have a dark chuckle whenever I see people referring to the Guardian as a far left wing newspaper, I can see why folks particularly from America might think that way but, honestly with all the just plain nasty reporting on Jeremy Corbyn along with as mentioned above the support for Israel and Support for radical feminists and anti-trans-views i’m failing to see how they qualify as a social Marxist outlet planning to destroy the west.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes, it was pretty shocking for the Americans — we didn’t realize how much different country versions of the newspaper diverged. It’s clearly an editorial issue — the people in charge are transphobic and hiring and putting out stuff accordingly. I don’t know if that’s a symptom of various British groups on the left, corporate dictates or what. But it’s certainly helping to kill newspapers further; we just cancelled our subscription to our local print newspaper on similar issues, including misleading headlines and false statements in op eds.

    What is becoming clear is that there seems to be a fair amount of coordination and language adoption between parts of the far left in various countries and the far right — anti-vaccination, transphobia, anti-gender fluidity, pro-apartheid of Palestinians, pro-Russian militarianism, etc. A kind of burn everything down focus that is highly anti-civil rights.

    And sadly transphobia seems to be the frontrunner persecution campaign of all and remarkably common as “discussion” in news media. The Atlantic went transphobic, etc. Here’s hoping the central UK The Guardian does some house-cleaning and makes amends, but who knows these days. You can always justify repression when you’re in the dominant group with the leverage.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, but the question is why. Bigoted myths are used to justify inequality, unjust laws and persecution in order to advance and maintain political and economic control and power for specific groups. For the far right, their transphobia goals are clear — it’s been part of the overall use of persecuting the LGBTQ+ community to increase political power and fundraise for groups and religious churches, and it’s been extremely successful. When marriage equality started passing in country after country due to civil right activism, far right groups immediately ramped up the transphobia and they declared in much larger and strident numbers that trans women were dangerous in public bathrooms, etc. It has deliberate strategies for specific end goals for groups like the Family and power-mongers like the Koch brothers.

        For individual leftist pundits, pushing transphobia persecution may also improve their personal economic and fame fortunes as a motivating factor, but it fits less into leveraging an identity into economic and political power for groups that would find this a strong thing to back. They are pushing bigoted lies that they know are lies, like an imaginary epidemic of trans women raping in women’s prisons. What’s the endgame? Is it giving them more MP seats, like it does for the far right? Are they seeking more control over portions of the media? Is it part of the overall linking of “common concerns” of far left and far right that has led to cozying up with Russia and an economic payday from it?

        I saw one article that mentioned that far left women pushing transphobia or did but left that movement tended to have severe sexual assault trauma in their pasts and deep distrust of men, and thus regarded trans women particularly as threats. But while the personal can spur bigotry, it’s much more often that bigotry is useful for building an identity that offers more power, money and/or status if it can be successfully pushed on the society or a sub-set of society. They are pushing lies that they know are lies. For the far right, that’s part of the whole grift, but what is the goal for the far left?

        Why are British newspaper editors and their bosses pursuing persecution of trans people? What are the political and economic goals of that for them on the left side? Being anti-vaccination provides an elite, heroic status to the anti-vaxxers, an identity that they are in control and under siege, one that has been extremely profitable for many grifters to exploit. What is the UK Guardian trying to exploit with transphobia and fake claims about trans people to encourage violent persecution? Is it a way to move spirituality seeking suburban moms from one political group to supporting another? (Also a goal with anti-vaccination stuff.)

        Bigotry is never pure. There are always underlying motivations that use it and our comfortableness with it as a tool. If trans people are being pushed as a deep threat to British civilization, then it’s wrapped up with using anti-immigration, Brexit, attempts to cut decent work conditions, etc. Those who run The Guardian are willing to lose readers — young readers — over this, so clearly there is another goal in mind. There needs to be a lot more scrutiny of who is funding the far left, because those folks are driving the bus.

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      2. I think it maybe as simple as generational power in leftist spaces. Transphobic rhetoric as a marker and a way of pushing back at newer generations of leftists with the convenience of trying to portray others as ‘misogynist’.

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      3. I don’t think it’s anything nearly so complicated. Transphobia is deeply engrained into Western culture. Look at The Crying Game or AceVentura for examples of how hating trans people (especially trans women) is shown to be not only acceptable but funny. A million schoolyard ‘jokes’, a million stories told and re-told and dozens of men playing the “trans panic” defence at their trials and allowed to go free after killing a trans woman have all served to keep transphobia alive and well.

        It’s a deeply toxic mix of homophobia, Patriarchy and prurience which has festered for much too long. I recommend Julie Serano’s Whipping Girl for more background.

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      4. Yes, trans people challenge rigid patriarchal hierarchies and the myths of men’s superiority from that hierarchy. So that may be part of what men editors and/or owners at The Guardian are seeking from having anti-trans narratives and columnists. But the lesbian anti-trans movement is more complicated. It may be something of a turf war, with lesbian anti-trans activists trying to consolidate more power in the overall LGNBTQ+ movement and seeing trans women as a threat to that they want attacked — even though it threatens their own civil rights, and it may be partly a generational struggle, as Cam suggested.

        But the consolidation of the Guardian staff/editorial with lesbian and other women anti-trans activists means an alliance that all parties feel supports their individual goals. The Guardian hasn’t been simply casually anti-trans, but deliberately and increasingly so, giving lesbian anti-trans activists a bigger platform, even though other goals of these women threaten patriarchy and are not homophobic.

        I don’t mean to imply a mass conspiracy situation. These things are usually less organized than that. But anti-trans activity in the far right is ideologically on brand, whereas on the left with its emphasis on civil rights and anti-authoritarianism, it produces a dichotomy. Part of that is people not being able to give up bigoted beliefs of their youth and the status identity they hold on to from that. But deliberate and intense activism against some civil rights usually involves other political, financial and ideological goals around that prejudice. They’re not really trying to “save Western civilization” from a threat. They’re pretending there is a threat because they think it will be beneficial to them to persecute trans people and block their civil rights. Hatred and discomfort are one part of bigotry but hierarchical power is the other, more systemic part.

        This quote from this article: https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2019/08/employees-quitting-jobs-britains-liberal-newspaper-transphobic-editors/

        “She also said that the transphobia affected the newspaper’s coverage because there was a powerful group of people “who have an agenda to push.” She said that the newspaper would pounce on any story of a transgender person behaving badly and even published an article that described a transphobe as an expert being silenced by the “trans lobby” for standing up for parents who support their transgender kids.”

        This for me is a big question because it affects what happens with the UK Guardian edition and other leftist papers. Powerful people in charge of the paper who are deliberately pursuing a campaign agenda targeted at increasing transphobia in the culture — that’s a political movement. The use of the term “trans lobby” is a political angle, routinely used to imply that groups working for their equal civil rights are politically powerful and thus a threat and their civil rights should be legally removed. They are placing themselves in the anti-trans lobby, a political effort directly aimed at government and laws towards trans people. So the political goals of that effort are important, not just that the Guardian editors see trans people as “icky” and a threat to their man status. That lesbian activists are claiming that trans women are a physical threat to them when they know factually this is an easily debunked lie — that’s a political movement, not just unease with and contempt towards trans people. So why are these two leftist groups allied in and pursuing this particular anti-civil rights political movement and at this time? Because that’s a key factor in countering it in the culture.

        Steve Bannon took up the mantle of Breibart and sent it full force into white supremacy and then into a larger political campaign, for instance. But that was again ideologically on brand for the far right. Who is the person leading the charge of transphobia as the pet political issue at the Guardian UK? They’re abandoning a potentially important readership of up and coming young leftists to do it, so that’s an issue.

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      5. The Lesbian TERFs are all second-wave feminists who believe that gender is a social construct. Trans people’s very existence destroys the foundation of their belief structure, and they can’t have that.

        It’s as simple as that. That’s what’s driving the push from the Left.

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      6. And in attacking trans people as threatening to social constructs of gender, they push a rigid, patriarchal and sexist social construct of women as a gender, harming non-femme lesbians, non-binary people, genderqueer, etc., and ditching their own civil rights as lesbians, since lesbians are not following the very same gender constructs they are insisting trans people follow.

        But that approach also does have political goals and political power efforts for these women, as well as personal financial enrichment. It’s an attempt at social and political control that is totalitarian and patriarchal in nature, insisting that the society essentially follow far right views while carving out a political and civil exception bubble for themselves — status in identity. One that they won’t be able to hold against their far right “allies.” The question is how they are using that not just in the media platforms but towards the British government and laws. Anti-civil rights efforts always look for violent enforcement through the law, since they often lose culturally with younger generations.

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  6. Without getting too much into the weeds on this issue, the reality is that the LGBT movement has often thrown trans people under the bus in many cases, it seems to be something to do with respectability in the sense that Gay and lesbian people can say look, we”re just like you as well we dislike The strange and unusual, it’s like they’re trying to be accepted into mainstream society.
    Note also the number of right-wing people who identify as gay, who are attacking refugees for being homophobic.

    Liked by 2 people

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