Documents showing a letterhead for the House of Lords Library where its been confirmed transphobes are tampering with LGBT History Month displays
Documents showing a letterhead for the House of Lords Library where its been confirmed transphobes are tampering with LGBT History Month displays

An LGBT History Month display at Millbank House Library in the House of Lords has been tampered with. The book by Helen Joyce often finds its way into LGBT inclusive displays, however this is the first time we have confirmation transphobes are tampering with these displays.

In a tweet by Helen Joyce she writes about how happy she is to see her book being displayed in the Millbank House Library. Her picture shows an LGBT History Month display with her book slap bang right in the middle of it. It didn’t take a lot of Sherlockian observation to notice that a few things were a bit off in the photo.

First of all Helen Joyce’s book does not have the big red sticker on the front identifying it as part of the library’s collection. Second its placement is wrong, with the others clearly following a scheme. Third the list of books to the left and available online here does not include the book. And fourth; the edition of the book in the display is not the edition of the book the library holds in its collection.

It was pretty clear that this photo had been staged but just to double check I emailed the House of Lords press office to ask. They said; “Helen Joyce’s book Trans: When Ideology meets reality is in the House of Lords Library collection but is not one of the titles featured in the LGBT+ history month display. The copy shown in the photo is not from the Library’s collection”

This is absolute proof that transphobes are tampering with LGBT History Month displays and got me curious enough to email Swansea University over their own run-in with this book earlier this month. They confirmed that they had included and then removed the book from their LGBT History Month display. So transphobes didn’t tamper with that one in particular.

But its curious nonetheless isn’t it? The Swansea University story didn’t really go that far. Toby Young’s Free Speech Union and The Daily Mail clutched some pearls over it, claimed censorship and bleated on about how LGBT History Month displays should include anti-trans material for balance or whatever. It barely left the echo chamber at all.

If I were a more cynical transgender I would find it very easy to believe that Helen Joyce and transphobes are tampering with LGBT History Month displays as a means of marketing the book. It’s genius really. The cover of her book getting plastered across the gutter press and all she has to do is occasionally leave a copy on a library’s LGBT HM display and wait for it to be removed. Easy work.

And it works double time as anti-trans propaganda in and of itself too. Transphobes have worked very hard to frame trans people as censorious authoritarians who just want to quash all dissent. In fact in the coverage of the Swansea University story above the fact that the library hasn’t removed the book from its collection, just a specific display, is kept very quiet to focus on statements from bigots about how 1984 this all is.

I don’t know the answer about how best to include anti-trans books in libary collections. I don’t necessarily think they should be removed. Anti-trans propaganda, in all of its horrific lying, abuse, conspiracies, ignorance etc and so forth, should be accessible to people. People should be able to learn first hand how it operates. But equally I don’t want anyone picking it up and thinking it should be taken seriously.

We can all laugh at Helen Joyce and the fact that transphobes are tampering with LGBT History month displays in a really pathetically obvious way for the silliness involved sure. I just don’t want people to lose sight of what transphobes are trying to build. They are ridiculous people who do ridiculous things you should ridicule; but there is still a more serious and horrible side to all of this that shouldn’t be forgotten.