NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE G raham Linehan, the Irish comedy writer, creator of Father Ted, The IT crowd, and other popular shows, has been “permanently suspended” (newspeak for being unceremoniously exiled) from Twitter for sharing a simple statement of fact: “men aren’t women tho,” which he wrote in response to a post by the Women’s Institute wishing a happy Pride month to its transgender followers.
Linehan’s banishment is hardly surprising. Those of us in the transgender debate — commentators, authors, women’s campaigners, moderate trans rights activists, celebrities, and humble citizens — who believe in biological sex (and its relevance to sex-based protections for women and children) are, according to our opponents, not only hateful but dangerous. Censorship is the only way of dealing with our alleged bigotry. And what with Big Tech, corporations, politicians, and even (as in England) law enforcement on the side of the transgender extremists, the new vigilante speech police are amazingly efficient at shutting us up.
Writing about trans issues from the perspective of a skeptic is no way to make friends and influence people, as Linehan well knows. For his commitment to basic biology and women’s rights, the popular writer has lost speaking gigs, had to pay $30,000 in legal fees to ward off libel lawsuits, been demonized by many of his fellow lefties, and even been visited by the police. What has gotten him into so much trouble? This, as he expressed in the Daily Mail:
I believe that women are females. I believe everyone should be able to present themselves as they wish but that women’s hard-won rights must not be compromised for the benefit of men suffering body dysphoria — which is to say men who feel they are stuck in the wrong body.
For transgender extremists, these beliefs amount to violence while actual violence — such as assaulting so-called TERFS (“trans-exclusionary radical feminists”) — is merely an extension of self-expression. Fallon Fox, the male-born MMA fighter, whom Joe Rogan once said should not be fighting against natal females, wrote on Twitter:
For the record, I knocked two out. One woman’s skull was fractured, the other not. And just so you know, I enjoyed it. See, I love smacking up TEFS [sic] in the cage who talk transphobic nonsense. It’s bliss!
In the U.K., after a 60-year-old woman at a rally in London’s Hyde Park, Maria MacLachlan, was punched multiple times by a 26-year-old man who self-identifies as a woman, the judge demanded that she refer to her attacker as “she” in the court proceedings.
And after Stephanie Hayden, a self-identified transgender woman with male biology, reported mom-of-two Kate Scottow to the police for “deadnaming” him on Twitter, Scottow was arrested in front of her children and mandated by a judge not to refer to Hayden as a man.
In February 2020, an English judge found Scottow guilty under the Communications Act (2003) of using a public communications network to “cause annoyance, inconvenience, and anxiety.” The judge admonished her: “We teach our children to be kind to each other and not to call each other names; you should follow that principle. We think before we write.” Are we not permitted to think for ourselves?
Earlier, Hayden had launched civil litigation to sue Graham Linehan for the comedy writer’s supposed “deadnaming” and “misgendering.” But after being given a verbal warning by the police, Linehan defended his word choice:
I will call all of my trans friends ‘she’. I think of them as women, they are respectful and are not misogynists. But I refuse to respect the pronouns of misogynists.
Meghan Murphy was kicked off Twitter for (correctly) identifying a transgender predator as a man; Claire Graham, an advocate for “intersex” people (individuals whose biological sex characteristics fit less neatly into the sex binary) was also given the boot, as was transsexual Miranda Yardley. What the banished have in common is their refusal to give up their belief that biological sex is an immutable and relevant fact in law and life. It’s not just Twitter where gender-critical voices are being silenced. Reddit recently banned its Gender Critical subreddit. Even Amazon is now in thrall to the new orthodoxy. Amazon is still selling copies (for now) of the upcoming book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, by Wall Street Journal reporter Abigail Shrier. But it is not allowing Shrier’s publisher to run ads promoting the book. Amazon’s explanation was that the book’s front cover “contains elements that may not be appropriate for all audiences, which may include ad copy/book content that infers or claims to diagnose, treat, or question sexual orientation.” (The book concerns gender identity, not sexual orientation.)
Similar to virtually every totalitarian regime that has ever existed, Twitter’s “hateful conduct” policy is applied so arbitrarily (and sometimes retroactively) that the banished never know their offense until after the fact. We are all wondering who will be next. A concerned mother? A skeptical journalist? A beloved author such as J. K. Rowling? No serious movement for positive social change has ever relied on censorship in this way. The extremists fear debate because they know that if we have one, they will lose.