Halifax Pronoun Badges & The media’s disastrous attempt to manufacture outrage

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The propaganda machine kicked into high gear last week as we saw tabloids and papers attempt to manufacture transphobic outrage over Halifax’s pronoun badges. Which we can now reveal failed to have the impact they hoped it would.

Transphobic dogpiles are nothing new, however they are making the news far more often than they ever have before. This because the mainstream media are aware of just how good for clicks it is when you report on the activities of a hate group with sympathy for the hate group. One of the latest to face this barrage was Halifax.

Halifax announced that they would be giving staff the option to include pronouns on their badges. A rather token gesture in my opinion which doesn’t really do anything to address the injustice of trans inequality in the UK at all. With Halifax being a member of the Lloyd’s Banking Group who report billions in profit each year; I think its fair to say they could do a bit more than badges.

Transphobes obviously went bezerk over the support for trans people by spamming the Halifax Twitter accounts, angrily saying they were going to switch to a new bank and even posting photos of their own bank statements. For as much as I don’t want to praise the brand here, I have to say Halifax’s response was kinda golden.

They are reported as having said; “You’re welcome to close your accounts if you don’t like pronouns badges”. What they actually said was;We strive for inclusion, equality and quite simply, in doing what’s right. If you disagree with our values, you’re welcome to close your account.”

The media reported on this too, claiming an “exodus” was happening at the bank in papers like The Daily Mail. However today new media reports are surfacing in which its pretty clear that doesn’t seem to be the case. Reporting in The Times suggests that not only was there no exodus but there was actually fewer account closures during this period than what they would have expected normally. Further, account closures that did happen were more than offset by new account openings too.

So what happened is that a few people on the internet saw a brand make an inclusive gesture – during pride month, when brands tend to do that sort of stuff – and got upset about it online. The media then got involved to amp up the story and try to make it into a moment by writing about it and sharing it widely via their platforms. Which they did entirely for the clicks because they don’t really care one way or another what happens with regards to trans inclusion – they literally just want you to visit their site and share it with your friends for the ad revenue.

In reality however, it turns out that a few thousand Twitter accounts dogpiling a banking giant on social media doesn’t really translate into real world outcomes, even despite the best efforts of multiple mainstream outlets to make that happen.

You can read more on this story from my co-founder, Lee, over here who covered it as it was happening and speculated on another reason why the papers might have been keen to talk about this.

Gemma Stone
Gemma Stone is a transgender writer who has been covering the rise of transphobic hate campaigning in the UK. She has written hundreds of articles dissecting aspects of transphobia including debunking blatant disinformation. She is very tired and trying her best, and hopefully having a positive impact on such a beautiful community.

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