Former equalities minister Lynne Featherstone has called for Observer editor John Mulholland and writer Julie Burchill to be sacked following the publication of a transphobic column.
‘Julie Burchill rant against transgender community is absolutely disgusting – a bigoted vomit for which the Observer should sack her’, tweeted the International Development Minister.
After her initial comment, the Liberal Democrat MP tweeted: ‘If this was a different group I think there would be even more outrage sadly’.
Burchill’s column (13 January) uses transphobic stereotypes and is littered with trans slurs.
She claims to have been writing in defense of fellow columnist Suzanne Moore, whose recent reference to ‘Brazilian transsexuals’ in a piece entitled ‘Seeing red: the power of female anger’ provoked Twitter protest. Subsequent exchanges culminated in Moore leaving Twitter.
Yet the reaction to Moore’s comments was muted in comparison to the outrage and upset now caused by Burchill.
‘Once you decide that some people’s lives are not real, it becomes OK to abuse them; for people without the outlet of writing for a national newspaper, it becomes OK to shout things in the street, or worse,’ wrote columnist Roz Kaveney in The Guardian.
‘The trouble with Burchill’s list of negative epithets for trans people is that she legitimises the basic currency of hate speech.’
Burchill’s article is now subject to an investigation by the Observer’s readers’ editor.
Readers accessing the column will see a message stating, ‘As you might imagine, I have received many emails protesting about this piece this morning…I will be looking at this issue and will be replying to all in due course.’
After publishing Suzanne Moore’s original column, the New Statesman is now running a themed ‘Trans Issues Week’. ‘This theme week was planned before the recent Twitterstorm about Julie Burchill’s article’, writes deputy editor Helen Lewis.