Dear The Right Revd and Right Honourable The Lord Carey of Clifton, FRSA FKC,

I noticed that you have published your entry into the Oppression Olympics on the front page of today’s Daily Mail. I’ve assessed your entry and unfortunately found it lacking. You will need to try much harder if you want to get on the medals table.

Firstly, “persecuted” groups don’t usually get their ex-leaders screeds published on the front pages, so that might have been a mistake. Also, the repeated references to “Lord” just highlight the automatic membership of parliament that you and your co-persecutees get, so perhaps you should have asked them to strip that out of the article too. Oh, and being a gendered title it also gives away that you’re male. Minus several oppression points.

At least there is no photo in the paper version, because the one in the online version gives away that you’re white. And I don’t think that stick is for walking either, so it appears you’re able-bodied.

Choice of other groups to go after is important too. Attacking the gays probably wasn’t great, perhaps you should have picked a less marginalised group instead? A bit tough I know, because you are a member of the majority religious group in this country.

Finally, I’ll admit to making assumptions here but as you’re married and an archbishop I’m going to hazard a guess that you’re straight. And probably not transgendered, either.

Sorry, what was the basis for your claims of persecution as a middle-class, white, able-bodied, straight, cis-gendered member of the religious majority with an automatic seat in parliament again?


Zoe O’Connell

(A bisexual trans woman of uncertain religious beliefs in a same-sex polyamourous relationship whose communities have much to gain from same-sex marriage, but still able-bodied, middle class and white and able to recognise she has a huge amount of privilege)

P.S. Luckily, I don’t think you speak for the majority of Christians. Or even the majority of members of the Anglican church. Pretty sure you’re not speaking for most of the ones I know, anyway.

Last week, a government committee produced what was a switched-on report on Internet filtering. (PDF link) In it, they rejected calls for a default-on internet filter, pointing out that “default filtering can create a false sense of security” and that “there was no great appetite amongst parents for the introduction of default filtering“.

Personally, I’ve always preferred the educational approach to keeping kids safe online. In our house, the computers are all kept in public areas so when they were younger, before they had smart phones, we had some idea what they’re up to. (Which mostly consists of doing their homework and looking at videos of Ponies, Minecraft and cute cats on YouTube) The trouble with blocking is that parents and carers assume it will work, but it doesn’t. It will block the obvious sites, but might fail to find more obscure items. And if there is one thing kids are good at it’s finding obscure sites.

Oh, actually, there are two things kids are good at with computers. The second thing is bypassing blocks put in place by parents and ISPs. There’s even a project part-funded by the US Military to allow people to bypass such filters, often used by those in oppressive regimes such as China or, uh, the UK.

On filtering, the government report stated they “work to filter out certain kinds of internet content but do not prevent… online bulling… sharing personal sexual content… online grooming… sharing personal information online“. There is also the risk of blocking positive content, such as help sites for LGBT+ youth or even content for other adults in the house who are being emotionally or physically abused.

Sadly, the evidence that blocking is unhelpful isn’t enough to deter Claire Perry MP and the Daily Mail from their “WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN” campaign. Potentially increasing risk to children isn’t enough reason to stop such campaigns of course. It appears they’ve dragged David Cameron along with them. He’s announced today that publicity-seeking Claire Perry is to be put in charge of plans to create internet filters, which contrary to the recommendations in the report parents will be forced to choose between.

Well, I say parents. Actually, it will be whoever sets up the computer. Because nobody will ever give their 13 year old the new X-Box to set up on Christmas Day, will they? Vague plans that people will need to prove their age to be able to configure these things do make me wonder if anyone involved has even even been online.

Are you 18 or over? Please click “Yes, honestly, I’d never lie to you” or “No”.

The Prime Minister’s announcement was very motherhood-and-apple-pie, even containing the statement “These should be distinct and precious years, full of security and love, untainted by the worries and complexities of adulthood.“. How much engagement do Tory MPs have with their kids if they think you can protect a 13 or 14 year old from “the worries and complexities of adulthood”. That’s exactly when you do need to deal with such issues if you want to become a healthy, well-adjusted adult.

Featured on Liberal Democrat VoiceBut I guess life is easier for non-LGBT+ and non-queer youth.

I’m coming a couple of days late to this as the Daily Mail thoughtlessly published their piece whilst I was offline at the weekend, but it’s still worth a blog post to clarify the issues. According to an article they’ve run, (Caution: Daily Mail Link) Doctors are being “forced to carry out sex change ops” under “new guidelines” by the General Medical Council. (GMC)

(Edited to add: The GMC guidance is available on their web site. (PDF Link). The relevant piece is the footnote to paragraph 5 on page 3)

Firstly, these are very specialised surgeries and you can’t just rock up to an operating theatre and carry one out without quite a bit of training and it’s not an area one accidentally stumbles into. I only know the surgeons practising vaginoplasty (I.e. for transwomen) but there are perhaps two or three who do any significant number in the whole of the UK – Phil Thomas, James Bellringer and possibly if he’s still practising, Tim Terry.

The idea of being “forced” to carry out such an operation is ludicrous. The guidelines are there simply to prevent GPs from blocking patients who want to access these services, not push people into specialisations they don’t want to pursue.

Secondly, this is not new but just clarifying the GMC’s existing view. The GMC made it clear at a meeting in January that they regard this as bad practice already. (I do not entire agree with this stance, as getting care for Trans people often requires a GP willing to fight on the behalf of their patients and go that extra mile)

Oh, there’s some random bleating about how the marginalises Christian medics. They need to get over that obsession that followers of one particular incarnation of the gods are being persecuted, as Christianity doesn’t have a monopoly on being transphobic. You don’t even need to be religious to be prejudiced.

So pretty much the usual level of accuracy we’d expect from a Daily Mail post on Trans issues, really.

Barker, who I’ve written about previously, was today given a 30 month sentence for two counts of sexual assault and one of fraud.

After a brief panic that being transgender and not totally out while kissing someone has been made illegal via case law, it seems likely that this case is being misreported. It’s the usual suspects, such as the Daily Mail and the Mirror.

Going back to the original reporting, this Metro story from the original hearing states that Barker was initially arrested for sexual assault before it was realised they were in fact (presumed) female – i.e. the original arrest had nothing to do with any cross-dressing/transgender aspect.

What has not been reported is the nature of the “specimen offenses” of sexual assault that Barker entered a guilty plea to. However, Barker lied and claimed to be 16 when they are 19, which may be relevant. Their other girls involved are reported to all have been 15/16 and the slightly more balanced Press Association report states there was “sexual touching” involved.

It’s also important to note that the guilty plea for fraud is to do with a false claim for compensation after a made-up physical assault.