‘If you were bullied by 338 colleagues, what would you do?’ – This is the question asked by award-winning journalist Suzanne Moore, after resigning from The Guardian following staunch, gang-like opposition to her views on the trans debate.
“At its best, the paper deserves to see itself as a beacon of the Left, but lately it has been hard to define what the Left consists of beyond smug affirmation” Moore has today written in The Unherd. “During the Corbyn years the paper had a difficult job to do: support Labour but to be honest about Corbyn and his cronies’ monstrous failings.”
“Now, six months on, I have resigned. And I am still trying to work out why I have been treated so appallingly.
“My hurt is obviously minuscule compared to so much of what has happened in the world. It’s a flesh wound and I shouldn’t make a fuss. But, do I look like a doormat with Welcome written on it?
“There were no such upset letters organised regarding the various hot Tory takes about difficult subjects that we sometimes publish. Seumas Milne even reprinted a sermon by Osama Bin Laden. What about that? Not a word. So what did I do that was so terrible? I stepped outside the orthodoxy.
“Why did I speak up? I have no hatred or fear of trans folk. As a feminist, I would argue that gender is socially constructed, and it can be reconstructed.
“I believe quite simply bodies exist. I have been there when babies are born. And been there when people die. I know what happens when bodies no longer work…what shall we call my view? Materialism?
“As trans ideology came into being, to question this was to question trans people’s “right to exist” — how is that even possible? They obviously exist! — when really we were questioning the ways in which we think about gender and oppression and how complex this all is.
“It remains so. Yet somehow morality had entered the debate. To be good — ie, modern — one didn’t interrogate the new trans orthodoxy. Sex was no longer binary, but a spectrum, and people didn’t need to change their bodies to claim a new identity. All this was none of your business, and had no effect on your life.
“I disagreed. By 2018, the atmosphere was poisonous. A fellow columnist at The Guardian replied to a message I sent about being civil at the Christmas do with: “You’ve prompted the most sickening transphobia, for which you have never apologised, you called islamophobia a myth and you publicly abuse leftwingers.” This person went on to say that I felt insecure “because a new generation of younger leftists have caught the public mood”. I didn’t even understand the accusation of Islamophobia. More broadly, I understood that the possibility of a left-wing government was exciting, but unlike half the paper, I didn’t believe that Corbyn had actually won in 2017. I also didn’t like the macho, bullying culture around him propped up by writers at my place of work.
“I complained to my editor about this person at the time but was told that as neither of us were on staff, nothing official could be done. Really?
“The moral climate had shifted from “trans rights are something we need to discuss and we must support trans people in all the ways we can” to a denial that such rights may at certain points compete with women’s rights. Friends were under threat, no-platformed in schools and universities if they questioned what had become a fixed set of beliefs.
“Women who said that were subject to threats of violence were told they had to suck it up. Any discussion of trans rights had now mutated into a denial of the existence of trans people and therefore actual violence.
“Eventually, I was allowed by a great editor to write about how gender critical women wanted to assert their basic rights. A professor of working-class history at Oxford, Selina Todd, was disinvited from an event. I noted, referring to this incident, that it is women again, never men, who were losing jobs, incomes and public platforms if they spoke up. Many of them were emailing me: not on one side or another, but generally worried. I wrote that I believed biological sex to be real and that it’s not transphobic to understand basic science. To my mind the column was fairly mild.
“It was published. The next thing I know there are loads of people on social media thanking me for saying what needed to be said. And then another lot: the “die in a ditch terf” lot, amazingly telling me to die in a ditch. Again.
“Seven years of this sort of abuse now, and no one from the Guardian had ever spoken to me about it. I just carried on. Do they care? Why should they? They should care, if they truly want more “diversity” in journalism, but that’s a lie which liberals tell themselves. How can you bring on working-class writers if you damn them for not knowing the codes upon which the media runs? If you won’t tolerate the heresies of outsiders? If — gasp — they haven’t been to Oxbridge?
“In the new orthodoxy, where do I fit in? What is my place in the tickbox set of Left beliefs? I was Brexity, though I voted Remain. I want independence for Scotland and a united Ireland. I want England to be England. I don’t believe in the monarchy or the UK. I think biological sex is real… I have never hidden any of these views.
“My experience is that I have been censored more by the Left than the Right and it gives me no pleasure to say that. Laziness of thought is my big fear, this unthinking adherence to some simplistic orthodoxy. There are values and there is experience and there are people. Complicated fuckers, all of us. The Guardian. Labour-supporting except for its Lib Dem blip in 2010. Endlessly “good”. Yeah; right.
“The letter made it clear to me that it wasn’t just social media activists who wanted me out of the paper. My fellow staff were gunning for me: time to hand over my job to the young Corbyn crew who spend their lives slagging off the mainstream media but cannot wait to be part of it. Could they write a good sentence? Say something from the heart? Does that matter? Apparently not, they simply think the right things.”