Sent this off to Laura Doughty, Stonewall’s Director of Communications and Fund-raising:
Dear Ms Doughty,
I hope this does not come as a shock – but I am writing to ask that you, on behalf of Stonewall, be prepared to provide a public apology both for your nomination of a transphobic journalist for an award, but more importantly, for your somewhat bizarre defence of your actions.
You may have noticed myself – along with various members of the transgender community – out and about today in some astonishment not just at your decision to nominate Bill Leckie to receive one of your awards, but even more bemused by your defence of that decision.
I have written at length about the subject: but I think the issue is summarised fairly well by exchanges on the Facebook Stonewall page which I believe you contribute to.
In essence: the original column put together by Bill Leckie was transphobic and recognised as such by Stonewall Scotland. He subsequently followed that up with another column about a year later in which he questioned the right of prisoners to their gender identity. So if he “mended his ways”, as you imply, he has only done so in the last two years.
The issue, here, is not so much about Mr Leckie, whose award or otherwise must be determined by the appropriate judging panel, as your own rsponse both to criticism and to questions about who is best placed to judge the degree of offense caused to a given group: the group themselves, or others outside that group.
As it is, your position today seems to be that since Stonewall can’t see how transphobic certain remarks were, they obviously weren’t. This really doesn’t wash, since I can see Stonewall – and yourself – erupting in howls of rage if some straight, white middle-class audience decided that a range of comments were not homophobic – and then proceeded to disparage and patronise any representatives of Stonewall who claimed otherwise.
Your position also raises a number of questions. First, whether, as an organisation supposedly committed to equalities, you can pick and choose between different sets of rights. Would you equally endorse someone who was openly racist? Or does the length of time since the last racist utterance matter? In which case, how long is long enough? A week? A year? Ten years?
(The above is not, by the way, a rhetorical question: I genuinely would like to hear your answer).
Second, you need to make your mind up as to whether you do or don’t have a voice in the debate about transgender issues. If you feel that you do – or you should have – then maybe the best starting point is to listen and stop talking AT us. If you don’t, fair enough – but please, then, stop pretending to any special standing in respect of the transgendered.
Last but by no means least, I am asking for – and expecting – an apology from Stonewall. To me personally – and to all those who are currently experiencing the daily prejudice and discrimination that goes along with being transgendered. I do not represent anyone in the way that you do – although through my privileged position as a writer and journalist, I know that my views are not wholly at odds with those of many in the transgender community.
Your organisation and your comments have caused upset. Please say sorry.