About 40 people protested outside The Guardian’s London headquarters on Thursday, accusing the British newspaper of repeated transphobia.
The group held Trans pride flags and a large painted sign that said, “Guardian is Transphobic.” They also marched down the street chanting, “What do we want? Trans rights! When do want them? Now!”
there are more people here now and also Guardian staff leaving the building after work, some stopping to listen. the protestors just did a lap of the road opposite the entrance chanting “what do we want? trans rights! when do we want them? now” pic.twitter.com/5pQsWcmeYB
— PinkNews (@PinkNews) October 7, 2021
While there were many articles in The Guardian‘s history that spurred the protest, the catalyst was an op-ed by Catherine Bennett in the newspaper’s weekly publication, The Observer, that used the recent murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard to argue that “those who self-declare their sex and who are perceived as males” should not be allowed in women’s spaces.
Everard, a cisgender woman, was abducted and killed by police officer Wayne Couzens, a cisgender man. In the piece, Bennett says that allowing trans women into places like restrooms will allow “the same sort of opportunist from appearing in women-only changing rooms.”
Natacha Kennedy, who organized Thursday’s protest, told PinkNews she couldn’t believe a mainstream publication would appropriate Everard’s murder to further an anti-trans agenda.
“I thought there would be somebody in the anti-trans community who would do this,” Kennedy said, “one of the really extreme fanatics, but I really did not expect it to be The Guardian using her memory to oppress people. I really never thought The Guardian would sink this low.”
i’m @vicparsons_, gender & identity reporter here at PinkNews, reporting today from a protest outside the London headquarters of The Guardian. people have gathered to demand that the newspaper “stop platforming transphobia” pic.twitter.com/ml1SrFjsqw
— PinkNews (@PinkNews) October 7, 2021
A trans man named Jamie also attended the protest, making the trip from Manchester to London to be there.
“On many occasions this year I’ve felt driven to end my life,” he told PinkNews, “because of the transphobic hate in the newspapers, and the way society takes up that hatred.”
After the column on Everard was published, many also took to Twitter to announce they were cancelling their Guardian subscriptions.
Screenwriter Sarah Morgan wrote, “As a lifelong reader and sometime Guardian contributor, I try to ignore their ‘gender critical’ platforming (rather than legitimize the idea of ‘debate’), but I can’t conscionably support the exploitation of a horrible tragedy by this dangerous nonsense.”
…As a lifelong reader and sometime Guardian contributor, I try to ignore their 'gender critical' platforming (rather than legitimise the idea of 'debate'), but I can't conscionably support the exploitation of a horrible tragedy by this dangerous nonsense.
— Sarah Morgan (@sarahlmorgan) October 3, 2021
Another user wrote, “The only way you could reasonably draw a connection between Sarah Everard and trans women is by discussing them as victims of violence. Not by falsely painting the latter as a danger to society (when trans people in reality face higher rates of violence than cis people).”
The only way you could reasonably draw a connection between Sarah Everard and trans women is by discussing them as victims of violence. Not by falsely painting the latter as a danger to society (when trans people in reality face higher rates of violence than cis people) @guardian https://t.co/vaSdKpAWIg
— Nina (@NinaAUT) October 3, 2021
In the past month alone, trans activists have gathered at The Guardian offices two other times to protest what they call similarly transphobic rhetoric.
Once, it was to protest the publication of an interview with gender theorist Judith Butler, during which they linked Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs) with fascism. The interviewer, Jules Gleeson, called the publication out for deleting some of Butler’s most biting comments.
“Habitual bigots online are going to do their thing, and usually respond to pieces without even reading them,” Gleeson told HuffPost. “What’s been more unexpected was how quickly the publication folded.”
The Guardian has since re-inserted Butler’s comments into the interview.
A spokesperson for the publication told Huffpost, “We have not censored Judith Butler but addressed a failure in our editorial standards.”