You probably don't know me but I know you and wanted to
introduce myself. I'm a fledgling writer. I've even written in some
of the same places you have. I'm a fan of yours.
When I was at school, our English teacher would cut out
articles by Polly Toynbee for the class to read, and told us she
was an important woman people respected. I look up to her still.
And you. You write so well on so many things, things I agree with,
things I am glad I agree with, because you have a platform that I
don't, because you argue so well, so colourfully. I like that you
write for the Guardian and
the Daily Mail; I like your pragmatism. I like what you represent,
that you're a woman people listen to, whom they respect. I like
that you're a success. You are, in truth, the very kind of woman
I'd like to be.
I was in the bath when I decided to write you a letter. I was
feeling depressed. I'd had a long day and a long week at work and I
got home to read some of the comments other journalists had made
about your departure from Twitter. "Bullied off by a bunch of
trannies" was a popular one. "But there's always stupid journalists
writing nasty things about trans people," pointed out my partner,
wondering why I was so upset by your Twitter comments. Suzanne
Moore, I told him, is not stupid. She's the very opposite. I admire
I didn't think your New Statesman article was so bad. I
wouldn't have outright called you a transphobe, that's unhelpful,
but your use of transsexual as a noun was problematic. It's akin to
referring to someone as "a black", "a gay" or "a cripple", and I
doubt you would ever do that. When I saw you weren't taking
people's complaints seriously, my first reaction was to Tweet you
with images of Brazilian trans women, "murdered trannies". There
are plenty of them, online, if you know where to look.
I don't want to bash you. But I would like you to understand
why so many trans people were angry. Many of us have such miserable
lives, you see. I am fortunate that I "pass" - i.e. my appearance
doesn't, generally, reveal my trans status and I am able to go
about my daily business in relative peace. I also have a supportive
family, these days; I am educated, working (and working class;
raised on a council estate) and in a stable relationship. I am
I've done my time though. Back before I was given treatment on
the NHS, I didn't pass so well. I was frequently abused in the
street. I couldn't possibly list the catalogue of injustices I've
endured simply for being who I am, but they range from the subtle
smirks of shop assistants to instances of violence that I find so
traumatic I cannot bear to think of them. I have spent Christmas
alone, because my family found it too awkward to be around me and I
have lost good jobs and close friends and, almost, my mind. I've
You might think I would distract myself with media. I threw my
television away 5 years ago, though, because I got sick of hearing
jokes about people like me. I saw that trans people were fair game
to journalists, television producers, screen writers and editors
and executives at all manner of media outlets. Of course I had
always known that the tabloids prey on trans people, as they do all
vulnerable people, to be paraded as freaks, but I was genuinely
shocked to see a piece by Germaine Greer in the Guardian in which
she referred to trans women as "ghastly parodies of women" with
"too much eye-shadow". I really didn't think they printed stuff
like that in "proper" newspapers. They do.
American writer Janet Mock sums up the feeling this drip-drip
"As a trans woman, there's rarely a time
when I've been able to applaud the portrayal or someone's
commentary on a woman like myself in mainstream media. As a fan of
many shows, entertainers and writers who've belittled "my people,"
I have a bittersweet relationship with what I consume. If I
wrote off every famous person or show that offended me, I would
have nothing to watch… There are many things that I choose not to
offer my commentary on because I just want it to go away and I
don't want to be bombarded by the stans who will surely say that I
am "too sensitive," that it was "just a joke."
I understand how frustrating it can be when you've worked hard
on an article. I've even been accused of not being "intersectional"
myself. People implied that I was racist. It was upsetting. Just
yesterday a trans person accused me, on Twitter, of being "out for
myself". I read through her timeline and I was not surprised to
learn that she's having a tough time: she's been messed around by
the NHS for 3 years, faces discrimination at work, is isolated and
hates the way she looks. She is yet another person (and I say
person, because transsexuals don't exist, people do) who is being
punished for who she is and she is thoroughly miserable about it.
There are many such people.
I can't tell you why I am who I am. I don't know if it is
psychological or biological, or hormonal, or social, or simply
natural human variation. What I do know, however, is that I feel
most comfortable expressing myself the way I do, and happiest when
other people see me the way I see myself: female. I just am, just
as you just are. Just as black people and gay people and
left-handed people just are. I am what I am and we are what we
And you, Suzanne, are a very clever woman. You know about
patriarchy, and rape culture, and racism, and capitalism and every
other system of oppression, of signs and actions that contribute
violence to the unlucky minorities they persecute. I don't think it
is difficult for you to understand the frustration trans people
feel from living in a culture that relentlessly ridicules them, at
every level of society. I know you must feel the injustice of this.
And I know you never set out to hurt anyone.
It's been another long day for me. Once again I'm reminded of
the wallpaper in my mind; that ever-present knowledge that trans
people are objects of ridicule in public life, things to be
referred to and smirked at, not real, valid living human beings
with fears and weaknesses and hopes and dreams and all the other
things that you and I and every one else on the planet feels.
And I find I don't want to be angry; I don't want you to be
just another person making off comments about trans people. I want
you to be Suzanne Moore, my hero. You're so much better than the
article Julie Burchill wrote in your defence. But I want people to
stop ridiculing people like me - and I want today to be the day
I don't know why you left Twitter, Suzanne, but I hope you're
alright. I could be better. I think we all could be.