Dear readers' editor,
I am writing to you to express my anger, disappointment and sadness that Julie Burchill's piece 'Transsexuals should cut it out' was allowed to appear in The Observer today, and on The Guardian's Comment is Free website. I've never written to complain about an article in a newspaper or magazine before, and it's particularly dispiriting that I have to do so to the group that gave me my break in journalism, something they did for reasons which I thought were sound.
As you may know, I spent more than two years working on a rolling blog for The Guardian called 'A Transgender Journey', commissioned by Rachel Dixon and Kate Carter, and hosted at Life and Style. (If not, it's here.) I wrote a blog post elsewhere explaining why I did this, giving background on The Guardian and Observer's historical record on transgender issues, which is here - to condense the post, the newspapers had published a number of pieces over the years attacking transgender, and in particular transsexual people from an ostensibly ethical, socialist and 'radical feminist' position, and that the structure and ideology of the publications and the newspaper industry had allowed them to continue abusing positions of power to ridicule, mock and attack a historically marginalised group of people. (I've lectured on this, too - here.)
As a result, I thought the Guardian Media Group were improving on trans issues - it published my comments pieces, people such as Roz Kaveney, Jane Fae, Paris Lees and Natacha Kennedy, and covered transgender and genderqueer artists such as EVA & ADELE. Also, your counterpart at the Guardian, Chris Elliott, contacted me for some advice when writing an open letter promising that the Guardian would improve its attitude towards trans people - so it's particularly embittering that these principles do not seem to have been adopted at The Observer.
I have registered my feelings on a comment on Burchill's piece and on Twitter, and I am talking to other trans contributors to the Guardian/Observer, and to non-trans people I know who contribute, about the best course of action.
At the very least, I really feel that someone of seniority at The Observer should offer a full apology and an explanation of how this came to appear in the newspaper. The sooner the better, obviously - I'm very proud to have written for GMG, and of the specific pieces that I've contributed, but at the moment I'm trying hard not to feel that all of my work for you has been a waste of time.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.