Biphobia & Transphobia and History Month

An LGBT History Month event in Salford has provoked online rage and provokes a question about which voices we do and do not offer space.

The speaker is Julie Bindel, a writer with a long record of campaigning for the rights of (some) lesbians. But she is someone whose biphobic and transphobic statements cause many to ask whether she is an appropriate speaker for an event with the B and T in its title.

The Working Class Movement Library, who appear to be the organisers of the event, have yet to respond. Threads on their facebook page focus mainly on her transphobia – with transphobic bigots pouring out prejudice in response to their regressive values being exposed. So much so we prefer not to link to it.

However it wouldn’t be the first time that someone with prejudice against one or more strands has been a speaker at an LGBT event. How many times have we heard biphobia from speakers at Prides? Seen bi people turned away from gay venues? Read the voices of biphobic and transphobic people given prominence and credibility in the ‘LGBT’ press? Observed a hierarchy within the “LGBT” umbrella of representation, voice, funding and respect that champions the first two letters over the last two?

WCML is in Salford, just across the city line from Manchester whose council now proudly proclaims more than 25 years of campaigning for LGBT rights. Yet a few years ago the B and T did not appear in their “lesbian & gay” agenda, while the council famously had the non-existence of bisexuals as a matter of policy in the 80s and 90s.

A particular event giving a platform for one narrow-minded speaker is the focus of attention this week, but it’s a furious debate with a long back story. You might almost say it was our LGBT History.