Thursday, 16 February 2012

BS on the BS

    It seems to be open season on the Beaumont Society at the moment. With some justification, as one of the higher-profile national trans groups they have become something of a go-to for journalists wanting to talk about trans issues, and we're told they inadvertently broke the story of a UK trans man having a baby. Now trans groups are being approached by journalists from one of the nastier tabloids trying to track the family down.
    The whole affair sounds like a bit of a cock-up, to be honest. The Beaumont press contact comes out of it all looking woefully naïve, and as a primarily MtF organisation they shouldn't be talking about FtM issues anyway. If all that has been said is true, a few heads need to roll at Beaumont Towers and serious attention needs to be paid to their press policy.
     The press story isn't the reason for my writing this post though. I'm reading a lot of comments about the story and I feel that many of them verge on hate-speech and are not acceptable. Phrases like "Deeply closeted gay club" and "You can almost smell the testosterone and man smell" are just the tip of an iceberg of misandry and TV-hate that has surfaced in the last couple of days.
     I'm a member of the Beaumont Society, and while you can read my views on their press policy above, I'm not recognising the organisation I know at a local level in the reactions I've detailed in the preceding paragraph. I've met more than one of their elected officers including their current president and I've seen some of the grass-roots support they provide all over the country to real trans-identified people both in the closet and coming out of it. Now, in 2012, not a stereotypical image based on how they might have been in 1972 or 1982.
     The Beaumont Society provide support to all corners of our sphere, from the wackiest cross-dresser to the most stealth-seeking transsexual. I see this very well, I live on the border of two of their regions, one of whose regional organisers is a flamboyant TV and the other is a long-transitioned TS. The latter regional organiser was one of the ladies who mother-henned me on my first outing presenting as female back in 2010, something she has done for countless other trans women edging out of the closet. This is the everyday work of the Beaumont Society, real people spending a lot of their time attending support groups, helping real trans people at difficult times. There are many trans organisations on the national stage with very lofty ideals, but I have yet to find any of them helping people out of the closet on a wet Saturday in Swindon.
    I get the impression that a lot of the criticism of the Beaumont Society stems from their association with the TV end of the spectrum. I've read vitriolic comments about private parties for TVs wearing silly clothing, it seems that any association with such people should be of great offence to someone who identifies at the TS end of the spectrum. If those people can't grasp the concept of a support organisation whose remit covers a wider community than just them then I am sorry for them, with their tiny closed transphobic minds.
    So by all means slam the Beaumont Society for their media cock-up. They deserve that. But if you know nothing of the grass-roots work they currently do in supporting real trans people in the here-and-now in 2012, then shut up and stop having a go at them as an organisation just because you don't like them. Or get off your internalised-transphobic arse, and start giving some grass-roots support yourself!


  1. A very fair comment Jenny. I've been in other circles that have experienced the same dislike and misunderstanding between groups that should be working together. I feel very uncomfortable indeed about BS. I fear it undoes a lot of the deep-felt authenticity I am trying to communicate among people who just don't want to understand, and who might see me as weird because of sex(act)-oriented TV/CD portrayals. But the support bit is important, and I will spend time with people at a very embarrassing stage in their lives because I needed it once too. Local groups that you can be comfortable with are where it really happens for individuals, and I too am lucky. The wider public insistence on respect though, must be handled exceptionally well if we are to be acceptable to society by being gender-diverse in very ordinary ways.

  2. I appreciate it might be going against the flow a little, but I felt it had to be said.

  3. yes, well said. Certainly the BS goofed on this, but the anger should be directed at the Sun. This episode has indeed been another opportunity for some transer-than-thou folk to criticise the BS (and, in some cases, the person at the centre of the story).