en English

 

Streamer and essayist, TheymerSophie, joins Dr Helen and Marianne, following on from their incredible live stream which raised £50,000 for the care of trans youth, via the GenderGP Fund. Together they discuss the state of the transphobia in the UK today; what makes Britain such a hotbed for anti trans activity and what can be done about it.

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Links:

Follow Sophie on Twitter – https://twitter.com/theymersophie
Support Sophie on Patreon – patreon.com/curiovids

 

The GenderGP Podcast

Talking trans politics in Britain with @TheymerSophie

 

Hello, this is Dr Helen Webberley. Welcome to our GenderGP Podcast, where we will be discussing some of the issues affecting the trans and non-binary community in the world today, together with my co-host Marianne Oakes, a trans woman herself, and our head of therapy.

 

Dr Helen Webberley:
Hi everyone. Marianne and I here today with another guest. Nice to see you all. And I want to welcome Sophie with us today. So I met Sophie just before Christmas 2020, when it came to my attention that there was a fundraising gaming stream, not really words that I completely understood at the time. But someone said, well actually my kids said, mom, you’ve got to have a look at this. There’s someone on Twitch doing a live stream, raising funds for young people who were affected by the Tavistock ruling in late 2020. And I’m really happy to have Sophie here who’s responsible for all of that. So as I normally do, Sophie, I’m going to hand over to you. I’ll let you tell the world who you are and how come all this came about. And also, thank you.

Theymer Sophie:
Well, thanks. Thank you for everything you do. I’ve said this a million times on the stream already when we’ve chatted before, but you know, I played a game, you help people, but yeah. So I’m Sophie, pronouns they/them. I have a YouTube channel called Curio where I talk about media mostly from a queer, leftist perspective. But sometimes I do like quite purely political videos. I have one that’s my most viewed video that’s called the aesthetics of intellectualism and talks about people like Jordan Peterson. And I am working on one about the gender critical movement, which is called transphobia with British characteristics. And I I also, and this is as Helen was saying, sometimes stream games on the website Twitch, where Twitter and Twitch, as Theymer Sophie. And so after the Tavistock ruling I felt absolutely awful, a lot of pacing around the room saying F this country. And I saw people talking about what could be done. I saw Joe (unclear 2:32) initiative to try and overturn it, things like this. And I saw Casey Montgomery mentioned that GenderGP had set up a fund to help under sixteens. And I thought, well, this is a good opportunity. I know my audience, and I know they’ll show out for helping out trans kids however they can. So I made a little trailer and I told them I would stream on Twitch, which if you’re completely unfamiliar, if you’re prestream Helen’s condition, basically I play a game and a feed of it goes out to an audience, and I’m also there on camera chatting and, and, you know, gaming. And people can send in donations if I’m fundraising for something. I said in my announcement that I would keep going until we hit 10,000 pounds, because I knew that could help, you know, a lot of people. And so that was the kind of going like through down, and we hit that within three hours. So I was kind of overwhelmed. I had the whole weekend booked out, so I just carried on going until I like completely finished the game. And in the end we raised 50,000 pounds, but Helen became aware of it halfway. She came on, she made the pledge that GenderGP would match it in kind. So, you know it was a massive success. We had several people from the game, like we worked on the game, showed up to say trans rights. And all the people who showed up were actually voice actors from the game. So they did it in character as well. It was cute. It was a good time. We had a lot of good guests and we did a lot of good and I’m very excited about it. It’s definitely the thing I’m most proud of in 2020, possibly just ever. I mean, you know, it’s a, it’s a big deal.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Oh, that’s so–Marianne, I don’t know whether you were with us when it was happening or whether you found out about it later, whether you’re a Twitch newbie, like I was, but you know, what a great piece of work and, and what a lovely expression when the community, a different community, actually to the ones that often that you and I tap into Marianne because you know, younger generation is so amazing when they come together, isn’t it really for something like this?

Marianne Oakes:
I think this kind of links into my–you know, I’d like to think we are at the forefront of transgender health care, but we’re not at the forefront of what’s going on for the younger generations in general. And, you know, to know that I got a link to say that it was happening, what time you were on, Helen, how so I did click on and have a listen while , but I was still bewildered about what was actually happening. I didn’t know how to get involved and so slightly frustrated, but really excited at the same time. So you know, I really need to learn what those things are.

Dr Helen Webberley:
I think, I mean, for me, it’s so lovely, isn’t it? That, Sophie, that you started off with just a, you know, pacing around the room, you’re saying the F words saying, what do I do? How can, how can I help? And then you go, right, well, let’s set a big, huge target, 10,000 pounds. That’s such a big target. And then by the end of it, not only the, the amount of money that you raise to help people, but also the contribution from those people that you were talking about, you know, the voiceover actors, the people involved in the game, and, and some, you know, high profile trends, celebrities, or role models, whatever we call them and, you know, such and such a contribution wasn’t there?

Theymer Sophie:
Yeah, it was really amazing. Casey Montgomery who gave me, you know, the idea she came on and she was on for quite while and chatted. Some famous musicians, at least famous among the trans community, came on. And there’s actually an ongoing thing, too. So we put together an album. Okay. So explain, basically one of the first guests is a dear friend of mine, Mel Stone, and for younger trans people she’s a massive icon and a big deal. And she when she was on, she said, here’s an idea, what if all the musicians, because there are quite a few musicians in the guest list, volunteered a track, donate a track, to put together a little charity album. And the proceeds from that will go to GenderGP as well. So that’s what we’ve got. As it happened, some people, there was a lot of creative energy around the stream, some people got together and wrote a song at the same time that we ended up listening to at the end of the stream as well. It was very cool. But that’s a project that’s going on and that’s something people can also check out that there’s going to be a GenderGP charity album that we’re putting together after the stream.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Okay. You really, are going to educate us on the youth of today. Really brilliant. I just want to say, I mean, I asked the GenderGP team for some stats on, you know, how’s the fund being used at the moment. And as you said, you know, that GenderGP pledged that they would match your contribution in kind, in terms of staff time and commitment and the energy. And so basically there was there’s one young person, apparently, I have reports that has been able to start puberty blockers already. Someone who was very distressed by their, by their puberty and the fact that they were no longer going to be able to get puberty blockers from the NHS. And they’ve been started on puberty blockers, which is which is fantastic. And there are 12 other young people who are going through the kind of, we don’t write the word assessment, but we understand that assessments obviously need to take place. So, and we’ve got 12 people, very very far through the assessment process to make sure everything’s safe and right for them. So just in that short time, and that’s the, those are the people that we’ve been able to help. (unclear 8:15) So, and obviously there’s loads of loads of money left over for for helping people who really need it. So thank you so, so much for that.

Theymer Sophie:
You’re going to make me cry, Helen.

Dr Helen Webberley:
You made me cry. That was, and that’s not fair, and I wasn’t expecting it. And I don’t know whether I ever told you that I had, I’d had a couple of glasses of wine that first night when I was on review and then Molly came on and then said, such nice things. And I’m like, Oh my goodness. Don’t make me cry again. Yeah, it was it was a treasure weekend for me actually. Very memorable. Thank you. So I’m interested actually transphobia with British characteristics. Can you say anything about that?

Theymer Sophie:
So, like I said, it’s a video project I’m working on. My main, my main gig is I make video essays. And they’re usually between half an hour and an hour long. And this one I’m working on is it’s a broad reaching look at the gender critical movement from figures like–there was an article a while ago from someone who’d been indoctrinated into the gender critical movement, who was out and out saying it’s a cult and it’s manipulative and abusive. I know the name that that was published under at the time, but I don’t know if they’ve changed it since, because I know they’ve changed pronouns. So I won’t say for now, but yeah, that was a huge insight. All the way to the kind of this is a colloquialism, but the, the posting sickness that has overtaken some UK celebrities. They just feel this need to just post and post and post. And they get very embroiled in online arguments until they have some very bad opinions. People often hit the brakes before a certain point. And at the very least you stop hearing from them if their opinions don’t actively get better. But some people, they just keep going down and down and down, and they will feature heavily in the video as part of the topic. But you know, when I, when I say transphobia with British characteristics, that’s obviously a play on Xi Jinping’s socialism with Chinese characteristics. I think there is something uniquely troubling about transphobia in the UK. I’ve been talking recently about it as a human rights crisis, because that’s what I believe it is. People in the UK are entitled to certain rights and trans people are not entitled to those rights. And when we say trans rights, that’s what we mean. I was talking with a friend about informed consent in medicine, and she was saying, how, if you think about it, that’s actually, that is the model that, you know, that the British medical system works on just unless you’re trans just as soon as you’re trans it’s actually being taken away under the guise of protecting people, making sure people are sure, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But, you know, we’re behind the rest of the you know, developed nations. All of the other richest nations are just leagues ahead of us in terms of how they treat trans people. Meanwhile, our press pretends that, you know, there are fair questions to ask. For example, the bathroom question, right? People talk like this is a purely hypothetical thing. And the really big consequence that they’re trying to drive the wedge through is that if the UK were to have self identification and that trans people self declared that gender identity, then what would happen? They treat this, like, it’s a purely hypothetical thing as if there aren’t tons of countries that are already using self identification which there are, you know? I think the figure is 1.5 billion people, I think, are living under countries, governments that use self-identification for trans people now. And the statistics from there don’t show any rise in, you know, people pretending to be women to attack women in the women’s bathroom, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You know, all this, all this hypothetical fear-mongering is in a fantasy land. And so I think we have to acknowledge there is something going on with the British press, the British media, the British government, and arguably the British character to some degree it has to do with our history a little, I think, you know, as a former Imperial power, we have certain kind of, you know, certain kind of feelings about ourselves. Yeah, but I won’t go into that now. That might be more of the contentious stuff and I’ll leave that for my video. And not, not bring, not bring my, you know anti-Britain polemic into your podcast.

Marianne Oakes:
I just wanted to clarify something, as somebody who is under the care of the NHS, which I spout on about on a regular basis, I went through all the, you know, the sessions and having to justify and validate my gender and validate my position in society. The last half hour before I left to wait for a letter to come in to my GP was informed consent. This notion that the NHS, where transgender health care, isn’t it about informed consent, it is. That I still had to consent (unclear 14:17). And it was the last half hour. And it’s the painful process to get to that. Exactly.

Theymer Sophie:
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And we have waiting list regulations. We have laws about how long waiting lists are allowed to be. And the NHS is currently breaking them. That’s not an attack on the NHS. The NHS is strategically defunded by the government in an attempt to ruin it and take public health care away from people. To be clear, I’m not attacking the NHS when I say that, but the NHS is in violation of those laws when it regards trans people and that’s, that’s really messed up.

Marianne Oakes:
Yes, yes.

Dr Helen Webberley:
So Marianne and Sophie, I was kind of writing a list of who is responsible, who is to blame, who, who can we point any fingers at? And Sophie mentioned the government, the press and the media, and then maybe the, the, the UK imperial power character. So w what are your thoughts on the government, press, media? Are they the ones that are accountable for this?

Marianne Oakes:
Well, just to, I’ll give you my impression of it all. This all started with a well-intentioned women’s equality committee. I’m not sure whether it was in 2014. It was before the Brexit election, and they kind of spoke in clear terms, just how poor, how there were so many qualities, certainly within the health care for trans people, and they’re pretty out there. And they said they were going to do a consultation, and it was going to include, claimed the GRA. And then the Brexit thing, the Brexit wagons started and it kept getting kicked down the road. And it felt to me the further it was kicked down the road, that the worst the rhetoric was getting. This gender critics were able to, it was like a cancer. It kind of got into society and has been growing. And I blame government because we elect governments to do, you know, that look after the well-being of all its citizens without exception and what they did, they realized that actually, I’m not going to blame Brexit for this, but there was an undercurrent of elect elect at the electorate that actually are racist, that are bigoted, that, you know, don’t believe in equal rights for women, you know, and the government seemed to play into that, and I’ll say the government. I’m not talking about any one political party. And then when we got, it just started flat off flowering, it was like a nuclear bomb had gone off and the mushroom cloud run up and in the middle of all of this, with this small group of people who are trans that are shell-shocked. And I mean, I don’t know if that explains, but that’s how I view, and I don’t know how we dampen the mushroom cloud now.

Theymer Sophie:
I think that’s completely accurate. I think to provide more specific context in 2015, there were recommendations given to Theresa May’s government saying, we want reform on the GRA. We want legal identification for non binary people. We want a path for under 16 trans people to you know, to start transition and start legal, transition, a bunch of recommendations that would bring us up to line. As I say, with all the other countries, all these other countries that are already have these things. And the only one that was taken forward was the GRA reform discussion. And then that’s, as Marianne said, it’s, it’s, the further it’s been kicked down the road, the more aggressive and more, I feel deliberately divisive it’s gotten.

Marianne Oakes:
I heard it was a comedian, a Chinese comedian talking on the radio for randomly. And he said one of the things he, he highlights any show, and everybody laughs about it, but it’s really serious. He said, when I point out that somebody just made a racist comment to me, how offended they get. I think that’s the same with transphobia? You know, if you said to some you know, I heard the conversation before we start the podcast with Helen and we don’t claim, I don’t see as a trans person who is more binary. And I’ll say that I’m starting to explore nonbinary aspects of my being, but as somebody who is more binary, you know, even, even I can struggle with actually being respectful of somebody’s gender. And I would never assume, yeah, anybody’s, you know, pronouns. Right. And you know, that there’s a way of being, I know. And I realized that I could say something that could be seen as transphobic, but can, I certainly wouldn’t become offended if somebody said, if you want to really be careful with that. I might be a little bit, you know, disappointed in myself, but I’ll certainly won’t be offended, but actually a very British way of being is to be offended when somebody points out you’re not quite as liberal as you thought you were.

Theymer Sophie:
Yeah. Frankly. I mean, that’s the, that’s the thing when I say about again, I will try not to get too far into it and invoke the ire of a demographic, but, you know I think that’s it exactly. Like there’s a belief in an inherent exceptionalism, we’re the good guys, where the people who beat the bad guys and we know what’s good, what’s our founding national myth. And I don’t mean myth in that it’s not true. I just mean myth in that it’s just the story that we all believe in. Right. It’s beating the Nazis. Like that’s like our thing. That’s how I think, like, that’s what I would, you know, that’s certainly for me and for generations before me now, like the thing that you grow up in school, like learning, like that’s, what’s written is, you know, good for. And if you want to believe even more, if you want to believe even harder about Britain being good, then you go back and you look at the empire and you pretend it was a good thing. And, you know, but that, that, that thing beating the Nazis, is we’re the good guys we know what’s good. We can see the monster, the fascist, the bad guy, and we’ll call it out and we’ll fight it. And that’s a very interesting mindset to bring to people who are different than you, right? Because then if someone comes along and they say, I’ve got these, I’ve got some serious concerns about this trans rights stuff, I’ve got some serious concerns as a feminist. I’m worried that women will get hurt by this. Then you say, well, I’m the good guy. Right. And I know the monster when I see it, right? And then you’re looking at, you know, people who look a little unusual perhaps, or they, they, you know, their behavior, isn’t something you’re used to, they require they can require societal, like, what’s the term, you know, allowances, let’s say. Like different behaviors and that you need to learn a little bit about them. So they’re inherently kind of strikingly different. It’s very easy for you to just be like, well, they’re the monster, they’re coming to hurt the women. And I’m the good guy. So I’m going to stick up for, you know, and fight the blah, blah, blah. And that’s what I mean about transphobia with British characteristics. You know, I think other places have a much easier time, frankly, I knowledging that transphobia sits in with every other bigotry and it’s just a reactionary, bigoted impulse based on fear of the unknown. But in Britain, I feel like we have a little of a, of a mindset that unfortunately gives way to this. The term that gets used is concern trolling, that pretending that I just have serious concerns, but really it’s a wedge issue trying to try to make people take a side against trans people.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Hmm. I think you know, we’ve talked about fear being behind a lot of this many, many, many times before. And, you know, you mentioned bigotry and unfortunately bigotry appears in our healthcare system where bigotry is just definitely, definitely, definitely not allowed. And yet we see bigotry because, and I think you’re right because of fear. And we, and we see it all the time. I don’t know how many other people watched The Queen over the Christmas, the series, you know, the Netflix series The Queen. And, you know, when I was watching it, I watched the first two series. And as I was looking at the scandals that hit the Royal family, such as divorce or sex before marriage, or marrying someone from a different country or different color kind of thing. And all the time, I was thinking like, when are we going to have our first trans member of the Royal family? And, oh my goodness, what’s a scandal that will be, and, you know, I just really, really hope that when that does happen or even if it has already happened, but it’s been hashed. That the British, the British Imperial power can rise to you know, normalizing the fact that, you know, one day there will be a trans member in that royal family. So interesting.

Theymer Sophie:
I believe that’s the unfortunate thing. People want to believe in things that like make my country great, suddenly you’re, you know, beating your chest and Sunday go up and blah, blah, blah, and swelling with pride. And I, the things that make me proud are acceptance and community and people seeing a place for themselves in a society that that works for everyone. And one that doesn’t leave people out in the cold and certainly doesn’t you know, disenfranchise people, you know? And, and so that’s the thing that would make me proud, but it’s, it’s unfortunately used the narrative of national pride is then used to to make some things that I think we should really be ashamed of, frankly.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Yeah.

Marianne Oakes:
Oh, sorry. Just to follow on from that, I think what makes Britain great isn’t what we’ve done in the past. It’s how we have the ability for such a small country to influence the rest of the world where social justice and human rights are concerned. And the reason I say that is that on–I also, I know on green issues, apparently, you know, if we invest in green issues in the UK, the rest of the world will start following because they see us as people with visions that can affect change yet when it comes to equality and minorities within our own country, we’re behind everybody else. And I think, you know, the things that we are good and that we should be proud of, we tend to not value.

Theymer Sophie:
I think we have a huge ability to, to lead if, because of the well it’s because of history, it’s because of the way the things have been historically, but we have a huge ability to affect other, other parts of the world. And if, if first we’d have to catch up. Yeah, exactly. We’d have to catch up before we could lead anybody.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Yeah. what about youngsters, Sophie? Because I watch my kids, they’re kind of late teens, early twenties now, and I watch them all the time and look at them and look at their place in, in this acceptance and community that you were talking about just then and what their, what their beliefs are. Not just because they’ve got a mum who understands it, but also from their own experiences as youth. What do you think about the youngsters? Have we got a generation of youngsters who some of them will be indoctrinated that as you say, and, or is it looking better for the youngsters? Do you know what I mean?

Theymer Sophie:
The same, I think the same things can be used to divide any old group of people. And I think it’s, it’s people have just such a vast, vast diaspora of experience, right. That for any just randomly selected crowd of people or actually it would be better to proportionally select your crowd of people. You know, some people will be affected by different tactics and rhetoric and, and that’s the thing, I think. I do see it as a kind of people just getting on with their lives, just being, just being normal, just going to the shops, going to (unclear 26:37), going and getting a haircut or whatever. And that’s that’s everyday life, but then when it comes to political beliefs, something has to kind of be inserted in there. And there’s the status quo and that’s kind of reinforced from, from an early age. And then if there’s other rhetoric brought in that someone’s, someone’s making a concerted effort to convince people of something. And I think that it will, it will always, some things will always work. Some things will always sway some people over. I’d like to believe that younger generations will carry these forward. These beliefs forward more, more positive, more accepting and more progressive beliefs. Statistically younger people always do. But there’s a trend statistically also for people to get more conservative as they get older. You know, a big part of that is just people getting more comfortable. They’re less exposed to the things that make them see what’s kind of frightening and what can be wrong and what needs to change. And they think that all the, all the hard work has already been done. You know, I think that I sure would love if we have a younger generation who are more progressive and more accepting. But it might well be the case that we have a generation of people who grow up and go, this is unacceptable. We need to accept trans women are women and trans men are men, but then the question of nonbinary people comes up to them and they’re like, Oh, I don’t know about that. That’s a bit challenging. That’s a bit, that’s a bit much to get my head around. I’ve already, I already cared about an issue before. That was a lot of effort for me. I’d rather not now, you know. I hope for the future.

Dr Helen Webberley:
So, Sophie, I just want to thank you for the work that you did, it’s been really, really interesting talking to you about gaming and fundraising that you did, and also about the political views on trans. It’s lovely to hear it from a young, very active person, such as yourself. And I know that we’re going to be talking to you again and exploring the nonbinary, which again, I’m really, really excited about. So thank you so much for joining us.

Theymer Sophie:
Thank you.

Dr Helen Webberley:
And for sharing your strong views on that. And I hope that they help others to learn.

 

Thank you so much for listening. I really hope you enjoyed our program today. Please go ahead and subscribe to future episodes if you haven’t done so already. If you or anyone else has been affected by any of the things that we talked about in our podcast today and would like to contact us, please visit our website Help Centre, and contact us via there. We’re very happy to accept ideas for future episodes and future guests. Do let us know if there is anything specific you’d like us to cover. You can also visit our website, gendergp.com, for a multitude of information about transgender health and wellbeing issues. You can follow us on social media, ID is @gendergp, and you can sign up to our monthly newsletter. Full details can be found in our show notes on our podcast page. Thanks for listening, and see you soon.