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Nigella Lawson graciously apologises to non-gendered activist for 27-year-old ‘offensive’ newspaper column

Nick Duffy September 9, 2020
Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson (David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty)

Nigella Lawson has issued an unreserved and humble apology to a pioneering non-gendered activist for mocking per in a newspaper column nearly 30 years ago.

The celebrity food writer has recently shown her support for trans rights on Twitter, sharing articles about non-binary pronouns and families learning to embrace trans relatives.

However, non-gendered activist Christie Elan-Cane – who has led the charge on efforts to gain legal recognition for people who aren’t male or female, and uses ‘per’ as a gender-neutral pronoun – pointed out that Lawson had never apologised for a 1993 newspaper column that personally mocked per transition.

In 1993, Nigella Lawson had mocked a pioneering non-gendered activist.

At the time, Lawson had written in the Evening Standard: “Christie Elan-Cane claimed that [per] felt wrong as a woman and that [per] proper state was ‘androgyny’.

“To this end [per] managed to find a doctor to perform first an operation to remove both [per] breasts and then a further operation to remove [per] womb. No disease was detected or claimed: there was no medical justification for such brutal surgery.

Nigella Lawson apologised for the column about Christie Elan-Cane
Nigella Lawson apologised for the column about Christie Elan-Cane

“Of course, its Christie Elan-Cane’s body — [per] to mutilate as [per] wishes. But behind the desire for self-mutilation surely lies the most troubling self-hatred ([per] made no bones about [per] disgust at her femininity) and that’s not the kind thing you can excise with a surgeon’s scalpel.

“I can’t help feeling that what [per] needed was help, not surgery. The fact that Elan-Cane [perself] might not agree should be no solace to the surgeon.”

Celebrity chef thanks activist for ‘gracious’ response.

After the column was highlighted to Lawson by Elan-Cane on Twitter, she immediately offered a full apology.

Lawson wrote: “I am very glad to have the opportunity to apologise. While I certainly meant no harm, unfortunately that doesn’t mean I didn’t harm. And I’m sorry. I hope that the past 27 years have been rich and happy ones for you.”

Elan-Cane responded: “Thank you Nigella Lawson. Apology accepted.”

Lawson added: “I appreciate that very much. Thank you for your gracious response.”

Praising the apology, one Twitter user wrote: “This has been heartening.  Another example of learning you’ve unintentionally harmed when you did not know better, though perhaps ought to have known better, and owning that past self in a humble kind apology. Both people here absolutely awesome.”

Another added: “Anything genuinely human and decent on Twitter is almost guaranteed to involve Nigella or Dolly Parton.”

More: Christie Elan-Cane, nigella lawson, non-gendered, trans ally, trans rights

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