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Stonewall UK media director steps back amid ‘tsunami of transphobia’

‘I’m tired of the abuse’ says the head of media for Europe’s largest LGBTIQ rights charity

Nandini Archer
21 May 2021, 1.22pm
Stonewall at Pride in London in 2011
Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0. Some rights reserved

The head of media at Stonewall in the UK – which calls itself the largest LGBTIQ rights charity across Europe – announced this week that he plans to take a year-long sabbatical amid “a tsunami of transphobia”.

Jeffrey Ingold described his job in a Twitter thread as “a dream come true” and that he was “so proud to have led such an incredible team”.

But, he added, “it’s become an extremely difficult climate to work in amidst a tsunami of transphobia. The hatred directed at Stonewall has taken an immense personal toll on me. While it’s nothing compared to what trans people experience, I’m burnt out and tired of the abuse.

“Right now in this country, trans people are facing an unprecedented, coordinated campaign of vitriol and misinformation driven by large swathes of the UK media,” Ingold warned, calling on the UK media to “please do more to stand up for trans people in the newsroom and publicly. This is an emergency.”

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Ingold’s tweet thread itself attracted a backlash from some Twitter users. One claimed: “You and the trans mob have 100% brought this on yourselves.” 

Others were more supportive. A senior reporter covering gender at Time magazine commented: "So grateful for your tireless work, your empathy and your constant compassion for others."

Opposition to trans people's rights is relatively mainstream in the UK in comparison with other countries, claimed Levan Berianidze, former head of the Equality Movement, the largest LGBTIQ rights group in the conservative Republic of Georgia. Writing for openDemocracy, Berianidze warned that, given the UK’s global influence, this also “threatens to undermine rights in less privileged parts of the world”.

Last week, Ingold pointed out on Twitter that the editor of BBC Radio 3, Edwina Wolstencroft, had retweeted someone saying: “LGBTQ+ people are not oppressed.” 

openDemocracy revealed in 2018 that the Christian Right and some UK feminists had become “unlikely allies” against trans rights. An analysis of responses to a Scottish consultation on potential reforms to the Gender Recognition Act found that opposition came from these two groups and that they made similar arguments.

Named after the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, Stonewall was founded in 1989 by activists campaigning against Section 28 – a UK law that prohibited the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities, until it was overturned in 2003.

Stonewall did not always publicly support trans rights and was even the subject of protests in 2008 for its decision to nominate journalist Julie Bindel, who has in the past been accused of transphobia, for an award. Now, however, its mission statement reads: “We’re here to let all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, here and abroad, know they're not alone.”

Ingold added in his Twitter thread this week: “I also ask (maybe beg) you to support trans-led & LGBT+ charities across the country. They are in the midst of a long, hard battle where those who oppose progress are doing all they can to undermine the reputation and work of these charities.''

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