The blatant transphobia at the Tory Party conference didn’t really surprise me. It was always coming, always going to be something the Tories jumped on because something they do very well is jump on topics they think will get them votes.
The Tories don’t care about trans people. Not in a bigoted way, as in, until recently, they probably never even thought about trans people. I suspect in the last decade, they’ve only really started about thinking about trans people as something other than a nebulous entity that exists somewhere out there.
Until the census, there has never really been a count of how many trans people are actually in Britain. Trans people are just something they learnt about from tv, the news, the media.
The media that hates us. That writes about us non-stop. That demonises us. That we’re this huge presence, this huge risk to women and children, and suddenly everyone is Helen Lovejoy from the Simpsons.
According to the census1, there are 262,000 people in the UK. Or at least, that many said they were trans on the census. Could be less, probably a lot more and it doesn’t include people under 16. It’s about 0.5% of the population are trans. But apparently we’re a bigger risk than basically cismen who commit most crimes against women and children.
What the Tories really care about is votes and money. And staying in power is lucrative. Between the salary, the expenses, and the dodgy deals2 with their mates companies, being an MP is good money. But there isn’t much money going around right now, people are about to head into winter with energy and food bills that have doubled. People are going to be cold and hungry and the Tories aren’t going to do anything about it.
What they are going to do, is what they do best – distract and deflect.
You see, the Tories don’t care about trans people. They probably don’t even think we’re a risk. But they think that the average joe from Brighton and Hove or Blackburn does care about trans people.
The media coverage has given them this false view of what the UK actually thinks about transgender people. The Daily Mail – a tory tabloid – alone went from publishing 7 stories in January 2013 to 115 in January 20233. That’s 115 articles in one month about 0.1% of the population.
All of the major Broadsheets – The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, publish anti-trans hate. Prominently. They platform bigots regularly and many trans journalist and trans allies have quit the Guardian over the years due to the transphobia that is rampant in both their newspaper an their offices4.
The Tories can be smart, but also incredibly dumb. They’ve latched onto “the trans issue” and think that the media speaks for the population of the UK. They can’t win an election with trans votes, there’s not enough of us, but they’re hoping they can win an election. They’re hoping enough people are going to agree with them or be persuaded to argre with them so they can continue to have power.
Sunak and Braverman are despicable people, there is no doubt about that. They’re incredibly transphobic and probably homophobic too (Braverman definitely is5) but not because they hate trans people, but because they want to use us, use the hated for us, to remain in power.