I WAS sad to read John Boothman’s response (JEP letters 4 August) to a very good article by Lucy Stephenson (JEP 28 July). Ms Stephenson rightly and eloquently pointed out the wide misuse of the word ‘woke’. Being alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice is not a bad thing. ‘Woke’ has become another brush to try to disempower and slur anyone who has the courage to stick up for themselves or other minority groups who face prejudice and discrimination.
Please let us not forget what Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s Cultural Revolution did to minority groups, while people described as ‘woke’ continue to fight for the right of these groups to exist. I can assure Mr Boothman that LGBTQ+, BLM and minority groups do not wish for supremacy. Please refer to the criminalisation of homosexuality in 71 countries, death penalty in 11, and 15 countries that criminalise gender expression of trans people if you think that this might not be the case. Please google statistics on the criminalisation, poverty and prejudice that black people face around the world. Also, see the renewed and ever-increasing efforts to oppress and kill LGBTQ+ people in Poland and Russia.
We are in a situation where trans and gender non-conforming people are being villainised and targeted in a very similar way to the ‘moral panic’ and homophobia that people faced in the 1980s. It has the same tone, sensationalism, fear and prejudice. It turned out gay people were not out to radicalise children, nor has their increasing visibility over the past 40 years destroyed the fabric of our society. Just the same as the visibility of gay people does not confuse or incite others to be gay, neither does the visibility of trans and gender non-conforming people cause spontaneous gender change. It is not transphobic, nor homophobic, to ask questions and debate identity politics. However, it is different when people are suggesting that the existence and visibility of these identities must be concealed due to irrational and unfounded fears of what it might do to our children. Next time you read an article, watch something on television or hear someone talking about trans or gender non-conforming people, please replace the word trans, gender fluid or non-binary with the word black or gay and see how it sounds.
We still live in the shadow of transphobic and homophobic laws, discrimination and the pathologisation of the LGBTQ+ community the UK. The lifelong pushing down of who you really are causes immense pressure, untold pain and hurt for individuals in a society that still rejects and devalues their identities. One in five LGBTQ+ have suffered a hate crime in the past 12 months. Suicide attempts amongst LGB people are, on average, four times higher and six times higher in trans people compared to the rest of the population. This is the concern we should have for our children. We must rally behind BLM, LGBTQ+ and minority groups, as this is their time of need. We all have the power to be ‘woke’ and help people overcome prejudice, social discrimination and injustice.