Munroe Bergdorf slams the media for ‘screwing up’ transgender kids
Transgender model and activist Munroe Bergdorf has spoken out against transphobic media coverage.
2017 saw a huge increase in transphobic stories in the mainstream press, prompted by what some including former Labour leader Ed Miliband have called a transgender “moral panic.”
In October, Stonewall chief executive Ruth Hunt said the UK was an “unsafe, unwelcoming and frightening place for trans people”.
And last month, trans teenager Lily Madigan – who was at the centre of a vicious hate campaign – begged for the abuse to stop after The Times published five articles targeting her.
Bergdorf endured transphobic abuse too, after she was fired by L’Oréal just days after the makeup giant made her the first trans woman to front a UK campaign – for calling out white supremacy and white privilege.
When she tried to open up about that abuse on Piers Morgan’s ITV show Good Morning Britain, she was told to be quiet.
Speaking to BuzzFeed, she vowed to do exactly the opposite.
She said she felt “a big responsibility for being a voice for the voiceless.
“I’ve got 12-year-old transgender kids messaging me saying: ‘Can I talk to you? My parents are trying to stop me from transitioning’,” she revealed.
“And to me that’s just such a crazy concept that you’re not listening to your child – that’s all you can do when you’ve got a trans kid.”
When it came to how parents treat their trans children, Bergdorf blamed many prominent British publications for their approach to the issue.
She commented that “nothing surprises me when it comes to the British press”, adding: “I was a transgender child.
“Trans kids aren’t kids forever – they turn into transgender adults, and I just think how this is going to be screwing up the future adults of tomorrow, stopping them from succeeding and becoming the best humans they can be.”
She opened up about her most recent appearance on GMB, during which she was told to stop saying the n-word.
“People were more upset with the fact that I said it than the fact that I’m being racially abused, and that’s what I’m talking about,” she pointed out.
“So we seem to have an inability to speak about race, and anytime that someone does it’s a case of ‘shoot the messenger’.
“So for me it’s just been a formative year, and it’s opened my eyes a lot to how far we have to go, and how much we have to do when it comes to race and gender, and how we even interact with each other,” she added.
On a personal level, she said it had been “a good year and a bad year.”
Getting used to having a media spotlight constantly trained on her was a “huge adjustment,” she explained.
“It’s been very, very difficult to deal with.
“I’ve had moments where I feel like I can take on the world, and I’ve had moments where I’ve just wanted to stay in bed, but I haven’t really had that option, because I don’t have that option now of having a normal job,” she continued.
“I’m not really an unrecognisable person – there are not a lot of people that look like me – so it’s difficult in some ways.
“I don’t really have any other option but to carry on.”
Being a household name has “impacted everything,” she said, including “my relationships, dating, and I’m in an open relationship anyway, but it’s tricky, it’s really tricky.”
Bergdorf added that the abuse she’s received has at times brought her to tears.
“I mean, of course, when you’ve got literally the whole media of the world painting you as this renegade woman, you do start in your private moments thinking, well, am I this person?” she said.
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“It’s scary that the media can be so powerful and so consuming.
“It is very difficult – we all have moments when we’re completely alone, when we’re by ourselves, when it all gets a bit much, so yeah, I had a little cry every now and again, but I get over it.”
She added: But mostly I feel that if I can get through 2017, I can do anything.
“It’s very much like that meme – ‘if Britney can get through 2007, we can get through this’.”