I recently sat rivetted in the Gielgud Theatre watching Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible (1953). The play is a dramatised account of the 17th century witch trials in Salem, USA. The respectable folk of Salem cast the first stone against innocent people because they had good reason to deflect scrutiny from their private lives. Others who were not central protagonists joined in because they were petrified of the mob hysteria. Miller wrote the play as an allegory of the 1950s McCarthyite era in the USA when the Government accused people of being communists and then persecuted them. It has stood the test of time and has equal resonance with the transgender body politics of the 21st Century: accusers are self-righteous critical social justice warriors (backed by the Government and civil institutions) and the witches are ‘transphobes’.
The writer, broadcaster and comic Andrew Doyle describes the faithful adherents of the postmodern, non-theistic faith in transgender identity as the New Puritans. Under the guise of protecting the human rights of women and children, non-believers are accused of cunningly hiding our true devilish nature, which is the desire for trans genocide. Like the witches of yore, when we protest our innocence, this is taken as further evidence of guilt. We are no longer strung from trees but expunged by other means – the refusal to debate with us, the denial of platforms from which to speak to others, impugning us professionally, bringing lawsuits against us, depriving us of livelihoods, and so on.
In the world of celebrity, those who do not express unequivocal adherence to the new faith often cringingly ‘confess’ to the sin of unwitting transphobia. The most recent example is the singer Róisín Murphy. Predictably, her fulsome apology to her LGBT fans for comments on Facebook about the need to protect vulnerable children and the harm of puberty blockers has not appeased the zealots. Her record label has declared it will no longer promote and market her forthcoming album and is “in touch with various organisations about how best to use proceeds in support of combating transphobic hate in solidarity with the community”.
In contrast, the comedy writer Graham Linehan has a long history of refusing to capitulate. Over the years he has assiduously spoken the truth: there are only two biological sexes, women don’t have penises, the gender identity clinic for children at the Tavistock was a moral scandal, and when men who identify as women are given permission to enter women’s sex-segregated spacesthey prove themselves to be no less sexually predatory than other men. Despite his success as the brilliant writer of Father Ted, The IT Crowdand Black Books, Linehan’s courage has cruelly cost him his career.
Linehan’s recent cancellation by the Edinburgh Fringe is just one example of his overall persecution. Brendan O’Neill, author and Chief Political Writer for Spiked, has argued out that it points to:
a moral disarray in the cultural establishment; to a strange, swirling climate not only of censorship but also of double standards, hypocrisy and prejudice.
Where the Fringe cancelled Linehan for defending women, it embraced the notorious comedian Frankie Boyle. Boyle has kept his head below the parapet of transgender politics and is thus morally ‘clean’ for the LBTQIA+ social justice zealots who leave him to make jokes about raping and killing women.