Penny Mordaunt has launched her bid for Prime Minister via a tirade of transphobia on Twitter and was heavily criticised by most in the LGBTQIA+ community. Some, such as Jayne Ozanne, chose instead to defend her as “far and away the best” candidate for us.
As we briefly covered yesterday; the leadership contest in the Conservative party has become a race to the bottom. At time of writing, 7 of the 11 known candidates had gone on record to support transphobia and dogwhistles, including Penny Mordaunt and her multi-tweet thread about how she knows what a woman is; a question being asked by transphobes specifically for transphobia.
Keep an eye out on Trans Writes for a more in-depth look into the leadership candidates and their transphobia soon but here’s a quick recap of the Penny Mordaunt thread. First posting dogwhistles about how she is a “biological woman” (specifically avoiding the word cisgender, are we?) and that despite trans women’s legal status we are not “biological women” like Penny.
She goes on discussing misogyny and how photos of her in a swim suit appeared in the papers as part of this leadership contest – a clear sign of misogyny. But then not even two tweets later is proudly posting screenshots of Daily Mail articles which took images of a transgender man’s top surgery to post without his consent and used them to fearmonger over trans lives. .
Somehow this isn’t a clear sign of transphobia to Penny Mordaunt however, as she says she did this as part of “calling out trans orthodoxy” (whatever that means?) But it isn’t, it’s just harassing transgender people. It’s just transphobia. The transgender man is Alex Bertie and has already given comment about how “disgraceful” it was for the papers to do this, by the way.
He’s a YouTuber and pretty cool dude who found a lot of peace in vlogging his transition just before the transphobic moral panic became what it is today. Though obviously that visibility is a double edged sword and with it has come pretty endless harassment in media and from the assorted transphobia online.
Penny Mordaunt finishes up her thread by taking credit for a bunch of nonsense transphobia; such as launching an inquiry into healthcare services for trans people. Not to address the immense wait times and the frankly humiliating questions we’re asked in order to get basic healthcare, but to find out why “so many girls want to be boys”. Again, elevating a transphobic conspiracy theory well beyond the reach it would otherwise have.
She also took credit for a delay in an act of legislation to protect pregnant ministers, claiming she did it for women! The act was originally worded in a gender neutral way, as I did above but according to Penny Mordaunt she championed changing this to specify this protection was for women instead. Without the transphobia this legislation would have passed quicker than it did and may end up having to be ammended in future should we ever have transgender ministers.
And this is where we get to Jayne Ozanne. Jayne has been very influential in government and in supporting trans equality specifically. I can’t deny that. However her tweets in defense of Penny Mordaunt deserve criticising because a tweet in defense of Mordaunt here is a tweet in defense of transphobia. We don’t need allies who defend transphobia, we need allies who challenge it.
Jayne Ozanne writes in Pink News that Penny Mordaunt is “by far and away the best” candidate and that Jayne believes Penny “is a true champion of all the LGBT+ community”. Which is just wrong. She isn’t our best candidate, she’s yours Jayne. By which I mean semi-wealthy white cisgender queers. She’s got your back, and judging by your endorsement of her after her tirade? Clearly you’re fine with sticking the knife in ours if it means you don’t have to look over your shoulder so much any more.
That’s not allyship, its being part of transphobia. We deserve better than this.