Ruth Hunt is ‘deeply concerned’ that a lot of gender-critical commentary ‘comes from a place of unequivocal transphobia’
Ruth Hunt, crossbench peer in the House of Lords and former head of Stonewall, has said that the hatred and abuse directed at trans people now is “equivalent to vitriol against gay men and HIV in the 1980s”.
Hunt discussed her work to include the trans community at Stonewall and addressed the anti-trans movement of “gender critical feminists” for the podcast History Becomes Her, a weekly Mashable podcast about women making history.
On the topic of anti-trans so-called feminism, Hunt said: “I think social media doesn’t help anything. I think that I have had, and Stonewall staff have had, a series of very good ongoing conversations, often in confidence and in private to protect everyone, about how we resolve some of what we would call the ‘tricky issues’.
“About prisons, about sport, about access to particular services. And what is interesting about those conversations is that 90 per cent of the ground is common.
“For example, those who run those domestic violence services say that they’ve been supporting trans women for decades, that they’ve never turned anyone away, that they would always find the most appropriate service for the individual, and that the politicising of their services is very distressing.
“Particularly when the big political issue for their services is the significant cuts.”
Ruth Hunt said there is space for ‘tricky’ conversations, but not at the expense of trans people’s humanity.
Ruth Hunt insisted that there is “always space for these conversations”, but that “the issue is that there is a significant amount of unhelpful hyperbole that often dehumanises trans people”.
She continued: “Often by accident, sometimes by design, it misrepresents the factual reality of what’s being proposed and what’s being considered.
“I am deeply concerned that a lot of the commentary comes from a place of unequivocal transphobia.
“Not all, and the positions that are not based in transphobia that have good-faith conversations, I have enjoyed many of those conversation… Those that are based on bad-faith transphobia I have less patience with.
“That bad-faith transphobia manifests itself by presuming that trans women are inherently out to deceive, and that trans women are men.
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“That’s something that doesn’t really provide much space for discussion and negotiation.”
“The level of vitriol against trans people is, I think, equivalent to the level of vitriol levied against gay men and HIV in the late 1980s,” she added.
“It is similar in its pitch, its fever and its intention, which is to divide.”
However, Hunt also said that social media is “deceptive”, and that the so-called gender critical feminist movement is a “small but very vocal community that has the ear of the media”.
She believes the majority of people are “appalled” by the way trans people have been treated and spoken about, and realise that it transphobia is “often a proxy for wider prejudice” against other minorities.