GILLIAN PHILIP: Death threats, vile abuse and how the woke Twitter mob has killed off basic human decency
The trans lobby has campaigned long and hard for people to be given the right to self-identify as male or female — without any medical oversight.
And now it has attracted a powerful supporter to its cause in the shape of the British Medical Association.
The doctors’ trade union yesterday called for trans people to be able to legally change gender without being diagnosed with gender dysphoria by a medical professional.
Gillian Philip (pictured): I know from bitter experience how easy it is to become the focus of the selfrighteous fury of woke Twitterati
It is a major victory for a determined and single-minded pressure group whose more militant members stop at nothing in their efforts to quash dissent and make their voices heard.
Take the experience of Harry Potter author JK Rowling. Within hours of the first review of her latest literary offering appearing online at the weekend, the vile trolling began.
‘In memory of JK Rowling. She ain’t dead, but she killed her own career by proudly hating trans people & no one would really miss her that much anyway,’ read a typical tweet.
Others were even more brutal and to the point, calling her a ‘transphobic b***h’ and detailing acts of violence that are too upsetting to quote here. To hammer the point home, many tweets had the accompanying hashtag ‘#RIP JKRowling’.
It was the kind of violent, hate-filled language that has become chillingly familiar to anyone who has had the temerity to question the prevailing orthodoxy of the transgender activist brigade.
Within hours of the first review of JK Rowling’s latest literary offering appearing online at the weekend, the vile trolling began
What sparked this outpouring of cyber bile was a plotline in the fifth book in Rowling’s successful Cormoran Strike series, penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
Troubled Blood features a psychotic male serial killer who, on one occasion, dresses as a woman to dupe a victim. In effect, a cross-dressing murderer — another thrilling idea from the fertile imagination of one of our queens of fiction.
While many fans professed excitement, believing there was nothing transphobic about this, these sentiments were soon overwhelmed by a torrent of outrage from a vast and unwieldy mob accusing Rowling of transphobia.
It was a vitriolic onslaught that made me sick to the stomach, although it came as little surprise, because — like Rowling — I know from bitter experience how easy it is to become the focus of the selfrighteous fury of woke Twitterati.
I know the life-changing consequences it can wreak. After many successful years as an author, one of a team writing animal fantasy novels for children between eight and 12 under the name Erin Hunter, I was dropped by my publishing company overnight.
My ‘crime’? I had dared to offer my support to Rowling on Twitter for the stand she had taken against transgender people being allowed to selfidentify as male or female.
I’d added the hashtag #IStandWithJKRowling to my Twitter handle in response to the author’s essay in which she revealed she was a domestic abuse survivor and argued that letting self-identifying trans women into single-sex spaces was a danger to females.
Hardly hate speech you might think — not that this stopped me being inundated with abusive messages on social media. Like Rowling, I was called everything from a ‘transphobe’ to ‘a piece of s**t’ and labelled a ‘Terf’, (‘trans-exclusionary radical feminist’, the derogatory term used by transgender activists for the women they believe don’t back the cause).
At the same time, people were encouraged to contact my publisher, HarperCollins, to register their horror and call for me to be axed. It clearly worked: by the next morning I had been summarily fired.
When it came to the crunch, my track record counted for nothing in the face of a baying Twitter mob. I had effectively been cancelled. The fact is that I’m not remotely transphobic. I believe in anyone’s right to change their gender expression.
But the idea that a man can simply declare himself to be a woman, fully intact, without surgery or hormones, and be allowed into women’s prisons or hospital wards is a crazy situation that I sometimes want to shout about.
Once upon a time, expressing an opinion would have been little more than the starting point — or part — of a debate. But as many writers, academics and assorted celebrities can testify, it seems that today there is only room for one sort of opinion, a subversion of free speech that has crept up on us with alarming haste.
Today, the woke brigade who seem to have a stranglehold on our institutions want acceptance without exception — and without extending that courtesy to anyone who doesn’t conform to their way of thinking. Nor, as JK Rowling has found, is anything good enough to appease them once their anger is roused.
Previously a pillar of the Leftist establishment, this author once so beloved of the nation’s millennials is now in the invidious position of being able to do nothing right.
Her second book in the Cormoran Strike series, The Silkworm, has also drawn fury from LGBTIQ+ activists and their allies after it labelled a trans character as ‘unstable and aggressive’.
But it was when she had the temerity to pick up on a campaign by an international development organisation that talked of the need to create a more equal post-Covid-19 world for ‘people who menstruate’ — rather than ‘women’ — that she was subjected to the full force of their rage.
Her detractors, not content with tweeting death threats, seem determined to strip everything from her, including credit for the work that made her a household name.
Even the Harry Potter stars who made their fortunes through film adaptations of her books — Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint — decried her.
At least Robbie Coltrane, who plays gamekeeper Hagrid in the movies, staunchly defended Rowling’s stance this week, saying he did not find her views offensive, and telling people to ‘wise up, stand up straight and carry on’.
In some ways it is the politics of the playground. It would be almost laughable if it were not unfolding in a near-Kafkaesque world where the truth is all too frequently distorted beyond recognition, and where a largely anonymous mob can tweet fantasies about brutal violence against a woman, or her death, in the name of ‘rights’ and ‘equality’.
Robbie Coltrane, who plays gamekeeper Hagrid in the movies, staunchly defended Rowling’s stance this week
Perhaps those responsible are too blinded by their self-righteousness to see the irony. The saddest thing of all is that I am convinced that the vast majority of us, from all ages and backgrounds, are bewildered by this turn of events.
This is underlined by the quiet but numerous messages of support I received from a wide range of people within 48 hours of the news of my dismissal going public earlier this year.
Many would have loved to speak out publicly in support of my stance but were too scared to do so in a world where, however nuanced or inclusive your language, one slip on social media can see you lose your job.
Now that I am through the worst, I can see that in some ways what happened to me has been positive. No longer shackled to a corporate giant, I am free to publish my opinions as I wish, and I know new opportunities await.
The crazed Twitter mob have tried to crush me but I am still standing. That does not, though, stop me having genuine, deeply felt fears about the future, both about the consequences for women whose identity is being stealthily eroded and for a country which — as JK Rowling has found — has allowed an extreme fringe of a lobby group to almost entirely shut down debate.
- Gillian Philip is the author of books, including Click Bait, for children and young adults.
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