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Apr 9·edited Apr 9

Another excellent Interview! Even if there were a few points of (agreeable) disagreement haha.

I really appreciate what Hannah Barnes has done with her hyper-analytic source-based journalism, it has probably done more than most in actually moving the dial in Britain, which I feel is sometimes downplayed by some anti-trans activists (read twitter). I've been seeing a lot of animus towards Barnes from every 'side' (not including yourselves/GAWL) – for pushing transphobic agendas; not going far enough in her critique of wider transgender ideology; not calling for the end of all gender medicine; not/criticizing the idea of being trans itself; and being overly cautious about the interpretations of the data/intentions of clinicians. I'm not at all advocating a 'both sides approach' and some of the criticism is fair enough, I don't agree with Barnes on everything and it does seem she is missing some of the larger picture. I do think, however, that often her cautiousness is mistakenly framed as support.

We definitely need people that look at the entire picture. GAWL is amazing for that, and no one does that better that Sasha and Stella. But some people (not you) seem to think that if a journalist/individual decides not to take on the entire hegemonic beast, then their work is inherently a failure or malicious. That's not to say that some people that hyper-focus on one sub-issue can't go astray too (there's a lot of that), but people like Barnes who stubbornly, even frustratingly, stick to the analysis of the evidence they know about while being (overly)-cautious about everything else, are also important and needed, they play such a key role in practical change and changing people's minds. I just watched her book launch discussion at LSE and there were many people who tried to attack her (without having read the book) as being anti-trans, but her stead-fastness and lack of ideological commitment protects the core of her work from being seen as politicized, and clearly revealed those attacks to be in bad faith in a way that wouldn't be possible with people who take more of an ideological approach.

Just as a counter-example, for as much as I like the work of Helen Joyce, aspects of her wider campaigning and ideological critique will reflexively turn a lot of people (wrongly of course) away, which is inevitable when you move beyond concrete evidence and into critique of ideology/interpretation (there are even some points she makes that I would see differently/disagree with). Neither Joyces' nor Barnes' approach are inherently better, both of them are needed and build off of each other. But a focus on child-healthcare and medical malpractice is something everyone can agree on, and we shouldn't let all the rest of it push out people doing great work.

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