January 15, 2013
A letter to Julie Burchill
As the fall-out from Julie Burchill’s transphobic polemic in The Observer continues, Nathan Gale offers us his personal and heart-wrenching thoughts on the matter.
It’s four o’clock in the morning and I’m awake. And sobbing. As a trans disabled person in a same sex relationship with another disabled guy I’m used to hearing offensive comments. I’m used to the stares, and the prejudice, and being patronised and discriminated against. But the impact of your rant is on a whole other level, this is deeply painful. I’m not usually awake at this time but I woke because I was having an awful dream. In it I was telling the one person in my life who doesn’t know about my trans history, someone I love very much, that I’m trans. And he told me that I was disgusting, and that he hated me. He confirmed my worst fear, that I would never be the father figure that I have been to him for most of his life again. When you’ve not experienced gender dysphoria or the prejudice which comes with being trans, you can’t imagine the self-loathing that it invokes. Or how long it takes to begin to move on from those feelings and believe that you are worthy of happiness.
In case you’re interested, which the evidence would suggest you’re not (but in for a penny in for a pound!), I was getting there. I’ve got a good job and a wonderful husband. I’m lucky to have a family who loves me and an extremely supportive group of friends. But your tirade of hate has set me back.
As I said to begin with, I’ve had to develop a thick skin. Most of the time my partner and I can laugh about the prejudice we encounter. Sometimes we get angry, but even then we can take that anger and do something creative with it. I’ve been the victim of a transphobic physical assault and, in some ways, the hurt that your words have caused me is worse because what feels like an assault has occurred on a national platform, for everyone to see, and there’s nothing I can do about it. And to make matters worse all the majority of the media can say is that I’m being overly sensitive, or that I want to be offended.
I don’t by the way. I’d really just like to get on with my job, fighting for equality and human rights for other trans people. But instead I’ve spent every waking moment since reading your diatribe early on Sunday morning dealing with these feelings. The slurs you used so hurtfully attack my identity. They are the words I always fear that people are secretly thinking about me. They make me feel worthless, and ashamed, and want to hurt myself.
After reading the article my dad, who because you seem to think it adds validity to an argument is from a working class background and not the least political (he’s a photocopier engineer), sent me a text me to tell me that he loved me and that as always, I had his support. I want you to consider how you would feel if you had to send a similar message to your son or daughter because a respected journalist used a national newspaper to hurl hateful comments mocking and ridiculing their very identity.
And now, I’m going to try and get back to work.
Lip Service series 2 trailer
The official BBC trailer for Lip Service series 2
April 22, 2012