British newspaper apologises for ‘dehumanising’ cartoon portraying trans people as ‘predatory’
The Morning Star, a British daily newspaper, was condemned Tuesday after it published a cartoon branded as “dehumanising, facist” and “transphobic” in both its online and paper editions.
Illustrating a group of newts bopping in a pond, a crocodile then “slithers” into the scene. One newt says: “But you can’t come in here, this is our safe space!”
“Don’t worry your pretty little heads,” the crocodile responded, “I’m transitioning as a newt.”
The cartoon winnowed through Twitter immediately drawing intense detraction, with countless users stressing the importance of inclusivity in socialism as well as pressuring trade unions on the paper’s management committee to condemn it.
In the wake of widespread criticism, The Morning Star issued an apology. A staff representative described how the socialist outlet published the cartoon without first authorising it and was removed once seen by the editor.
The drawing was doodled by Stella Perrett, a political cartoonist whose work, spanning 40 years, has “regularly” been featured in The Morning Star, according to the artist’s website.
Moreover, the drawing itself is called “Labour Pledge”.
Currently, Labour leadership and potential deputies are being asked by independent lobby group Labour Campaign for Trans rights to sign a 12-point pledge to back trans and non-binary people.
Trans and non-binary Labour members have come together to launch the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights; we are fighting for trans rights and liberation through the Labour Party. We urge all trans Labour members and allies to sign our pledges here:https://t.co/4zl8TsFjkZ pic.twitter.com/LOinMWgr8a
— Labour Campaign for Trans Rights (@Labour_Trans) February 10, 2020
The pledge states that “there is no material conflict between trans rights and women’s rights” and calls for supporters of “trans-exclusionist hate groups” to be expelled from Labour.
Launched this month, the grassroots group cautioned that the party has “failed to act as transphobia has gained ground” within Labour, despite the party’s official support for trans equality and gender recognition reforms.
But the cartoon appears to reference the retaliation the pledge has faced, where some anti-trans lobbying groups are advocating that certain spaces and services for cis women exclude trans women.
LGBT+ activist skewer socialist newspaper for printing anti-trans cartoon.
Describing the drawing as “offensive”, “hideous” and “harmful”, the cartoon drew sharp criticism from LGBT+ activists.
I hope that my union, UNISON, and every other union that cares a jot about trans inclusion will unequivocally condem The Morning Star (regularly sold outside TU events) that publishes this hideous and harmful cartoon during LGBT history month (sorry for having to post the pic) pic.twitter.com/OKdFLNTGRt
— Jenny Harvey (@Jenksy) February 22, 2020
Der Stürmer 1935; or the Morning Star, 2020? Could barely believe my eyes seeing this dehumanising, fascist imagery in a socialist paper. An absolute disgrace to the great traditions of socialism and liberation you are meant to stand for. pic.twitter.com/ljwhWRfSUJ
— ✴Torr✴ (@Torr_ro) February 22, 2020
images like this — attempting to highlight trans women as a predatory threat to “women’s safety & dignity” — will result in trans women being violently attacked & killed. individuals & organisations creating & publishing such images will soon have blood on their hands. shameful. pic.twitter.com/H7pc3IayNX
— Adrian Harrop (@AdrianHarrop) February 22, 2020
I *wish* I couldn't believe the transphobia in the Morning Star yesterday.
This hatred should hurt our hearts. This is how our brothers and sisters are being represented in a newspaper in 2020. It's dehumanising, sexualising, scaremongering and way too familiar. Abhorrent. pic.twitter.com/v6V17KFdT8
— Februandi (@darkestflameboy) February 23, 2020
Absolutely fucking disgusting coming out of the Morning Star.
If your view of liberation is selective and excludes trans people, that is not a paper I will get on board with. I've seen many defend the MS despite this as the only partially mainstream socialist publication in GB https://t.co/6ZyQk3EZ04
— Morgan Paulett 🤝🏴 🇨🇺 🇵🇸 (@MorganPaulett) February 23, 2020
Trans people are a persecuted minority, they are not predators. This reactionary campaign of demonisation has no place on the left. The Morning Star should know better. pic.twitter.com/3JYsl2yHGS
— James McAsh (@mcash) February 23, 2020
Moreover, the cartoon prompted some to push against the narrative the cartoon peddled by showing that trans folk can be socialist.
“Socialism is trans inclusive!” one user wrote.
Hey Morning Star, I'm a working class trans person and a real socialist who knows that capitalism breeds misogyny and transphobia to divide the working class and to alienate women from their natural allies, trans people! Terfs aren't socialist! Socialism is trans inclusive! pic.twitter.com/SmfrD0gNs7
— Ollie⚧🏳️🌈 (@playfulghost_) February 23, 2020
A petition was also made decrying the drawing. Petition organisers PSC Rainwbow Collective described how the ongoing, relentless “debate” about whether trans people should, well, exit, has become a “toxic space of transphobia”.
Petitioners pelted the paper for publishing the “abhorrent form os transphobia that undermines the protections and the rights that we believe the trans community must have.”
Tallying more than 750 signatures in less than a day, the collective called on trade unions “to distance themselves” from The Morning Star.
Why did The Morning Star publish the cartoon?
The Morning Star published an apology Sunday acknowledging that staff “failed” to follow procedures for approving cartoon submissions.
“It was removed from online editions of the paper the same day, as soon as it was seen by the editor,” the statement read.
Moreover, the statement said, The Morning Star circulated a note that day “reminding them of the process by which cartoon submissions must be approved before publication and we are determined that such a lapse in standards will not recur.”
“Again, we apologise for the offence caused by this cartoon, especially to our trans contributors and readers whom we have let down.”