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LGB Alliance gets called out on Twitter for transphobia

By Louis Shankar

Nov 25, 2020

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On Monday, ‘LGB Alliance’ was trending on Twitter in the UK. If you clicked on the term, you could see that most of the tweets were negative of the group, from critical jabs to vehement disavowals.

This was, in large part, due to a recent piece published by the BBC about the provision of gender clinic services. In highlighting the case of a 14-year-old transgender boy who is starting legal proceedings against NHS England “over delays to gender reassignment treatment,” they quoted Bev Jackson from the LGB Alliance, which they described as “a self-funded lobby group.”

The case concerns severe delays in accessing the gender-identity development service (GIDS) run by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust; the Good Law Project, which is acting for the teenager, explained that the NHS has “a legal obligation to provide specialist care to all patients within 18 weeks, or provide an alternative.”

In response, Forbes quoted the CEO of Stonewall, the UK’s leading LGBT+ charity: “Many young people and their families are being left without proper support, advice and care. This urgently needs to change—a change we hope this action will help bring about.”

Many on Twitter pointed out that the BBC had failed to quote any trans people or trans groups, instead only quoting the LGB Alliance, who are generally perceived as an overtly transphobic pressure group, for reasons of “impartiality.” Ben Hunte, the BBC’s trailblazing LGBT correspondent is usually sensitive and inclusive in his reporting, which made this disappointing for many, myself included.

What is the LGB Alliance?

Founded just over a year ago, they describe themselves as a group fighting for the rights of lesbians, gays and bisexuals, which they view as distinct and separate to those of trans people. While they claim that they’re not anti-trans, many of their supporters are explicitly transphobic. Pink News reported that “Neo-Nazis and homophobes are among the supporters of the ‘anti-trans’ group LGB Alliance.”

They exist, effectively, at the overlap between LGBT+ groups and so-called ‘gender critical’ circles, who believe in ‘sex-based rights’ and use a misunderstanding of biological and sociological discourse to support trans-exclusionary and regressive dogma. It has often been suggested that these are people who want to ‘feel oppressed’—people who are living comfortably now and no longer have to fight hard for rights and protections.

Much of this debate takes place on Twitter—and if you don’t currently keep up with it, I wouldn’t recommend doing so. Conversation tends to get polarised and become toxic very quickly, with little room for nuance and the ‘civilised debate’ that those involved purportedly insist upon.

A large proportion of the LGB Alliance’s supporters, it should be noted, have entirely anonymous Twitter profiles and many of their prominent members are cisgender and heterosexual. Despite asserting themselves as “fact-based, civil and positive,” their social media is often full of half-truths and dangerous historical revisionism, and many claims that could easily be found on explicitly homophobic platforms.

https://twitter.com/shonfaye/status/1330864183949266944
https://twitter.com/SpillerOfTea/status/1330848723895803906

It is heartening to see, however, so many LGBT+ people and allies calling this group out whenever they gain a degree of prominence on social media. Jolyon Maugham, director of the Good Law Project, posted a thread on Twitter giving some background to the LGB Alliance. For example, “One of its founders says LGBT+ clubs—a safe space for many LGBT+ schoolchildren to accept their sexuality—shouldn’t exist because of ‘predatory gay teachers’,” an outdated and bigoted perspective.

In recent weeks, Twitter accounts have been set up for similar groups around the world, from Ireland and Serbia to Mexico and Canada. The legitimacy of these pages have already been questioned, though, as have their alleged intentions to stand up for LGB individuals, which is still much needed in countries such as Serbia.

In Ireland, the group is entirely aimed at fighting the 2015 gender recognition act and has nothing at all to say about furthering lesbian, gay and bisexual rights. It has been claimed that the Twitter page is, in fact, based in London and an analysis of their following shows multiple far-right accounts and “a significant number of its followers either list no location or describe themselves as living in the UK, the US, or other international locations.”

Scottish actor David Paisley posted an overview analysis of the eleven new accounts—Ireland, Wales, Australia, America, Canada, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Iceland, Norway and Serbia—against their existing UK page. The followers of the new groups “are almost entirely a subset of LGB Alliance followers” and they all have “more followers in the UK than anywhere else.”

It’s even possible that many of the accounts were set up from a single source, so are far from the local, grassroots campaigns that they claim to be. “This has been tried before,” explains Paisley, “earlier this year fake accounts purporting to represent UK political parties were set up in the same way, all were suspended from Twitter.”

What does this tell us? It’s likely that this is an attempt to spread the group’s non-representative and regressive agenda internationally, presenting the close-minded attitude of a few as much more pervasive and extensive than it is. Transphobia has a very particular framing in Britain; in many countries, trans rights fall along left-right party lines and align with LGB rights more generally. Joe Biden recently tweeted his support for “transgender and gender-nonconforming people across America”—and although both Biden and the Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris, have uneven and, at times, problematic records regarding trans rights, this signals a positive new direction, an attempt to right previous wrongs.

“Not in my name” is a common response to the LGB Alliance, which weaponises accusations of homophobia and misogyny to evade criticism for its conservative, bigoted attitudes. This is a peculiarly British problem; Paisley summarises that these new developments represent “a UK based hate group exporting their hate globally.” It’s worth noting, as Paisley does, that as recently as 2017, a British transgender woman was granted asylum in New Zealand because it was deemed ‘safer’. Trans rights are the next big hurdle in equal civil rights—and the LGB Alliance are staunchly on the wrong side of history.