James, this is so disappointing to hear (Picture: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
He’s Britain’s best-known progressive presenter. A fearless freedom fighter in a world of right-wing shock-jocks. Champion of the misrepresented. Defender of the underdog. Cool dad and indisputably kind.
I’m a massive fan.
So why does James O’Brien – LBC’s most listened-to host – lose all his strength when going anywhere near the biggest civil rights campaign of our age? The topic crying out for his attention: Trans rights.
This seems to be his Kryptonite.
In a recent interview with The Guardian’s Tim Jonze to publicise his new book How They Broke Britain, James said: ‘So if someone believes they were born in the wrong body, I don’t want to call them a liar. And if somebody believes their personal security is threatened by that person using the same amenities that they use, I don’t want to call them a liar either.’
Head in the sand. Look the other way. Switzerland.
James, this is so disappointing to hear. You can’t just fence sit on a human rights issue like this.
There is no equivalence between the 0.2% trans population over the age of 16 in England and Wales – according to the last census – simply looking to lead a normal life and the mighty forces lined up against us.
It’s like the end of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. We’re outnumbered by canons and Gatlin guns. We could do with an extra gunslinger or superhero saddling up and riding out to the rescue.
What they’re telling you right now about trans people is simply not true (Picture: PA)
James, as someone who listens to you every day getting all the topics right, I can’t believe you get the subject of trans so wrong.
There has never been a trans crime wave in history. There has never been a spate of non-trans predators dressing up as women to attack others. There has never been a trans champion dominating any sport at any level.
As far as I’ve seen, it’s just one-off sporadic wins at college meetings or park runs that are blown out of all proportion by right-wing trombones. With cisgender competitors quickly resuming their place at the top.
Self-ID, the principle that a trans person can change gender markers without going through a number of administrative and medical hoops, exists in countries all over the world.
Of the countries that have introduced self-ID, none of the scare stories about widespread threats to women have come to pass – with Victor Madrigal-Borloz, UN independent expert on LGBT+ rights, stating last year that ‘350 million people live in systems of legal recognition based on self-determination, and there is not, to my knowledge, one single administrative or judicial finding that this system is actually abused by predatory males.’
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These are the facts. What you’re buying into – by not slamming anti-trans hysteria – James, is the type of fear campaign that convinced us to leave the EU.
By not slamming anti-trans hysteria – James, you risk buying into the type of fear campaign that convinced us to leave the EU.
We’ve gone from being the best place in Europe for trans people to live to the 17th in just a few years.
Saying nothing is not a neutral stance.
The smears being levelled at the trans community now – who are so rarely given a voice in UK media – are identical to those once fired at the Black and gay population: We don’t want to share with you because you are dangerous. You are an affront to our dignity. You can’t be trusted.
In his interview with The Guardian, James says there are no parallels but frustratingly, doesn’t elaborate.
James, as someone who listens to you every day getting all the topics right, I can’t believe you get the subject of trans so wrong (Picture: India Willoughby)
Clearly, there’s some kind of cognitive dissonance going on. How can a man who can see right through Donald Trump, Suella Braverman, GB News and all the other hatemongers – but seemingly think: ‘You know what? Maybe they have a point about the transes?’
Best not say anything in case it upsets their feelings.
In an LBC segment earlier this year, James said ‘We’re gonna talk about transgenderism, which we do very very rarely on this programme… I generally upset everybody when we wade into this conversation – I’m regularly called transphobic which is obviously hurtful and obviously untrue, but I’m also called misogynistic.’
But however you cut the cake, prejudice is prejudice. Perhaps some of James’s friends are ‘gender critical’ – the polite-company phrase for being anti-trans.
Transphobia is a uniquely middle-class, intellectualised bigotry. Polished and refined. Sponsored and promoted by what traditionally have been sources we subconsciously turn to for the truth.
But what they’re telling you right now – day in, day out – about trans people is simply not true. It’s a lie.
We are the biggest victims of the Tory war on culture.
My tribe has been abandoned. By Labour, by the NHS, and by those who stay silent. We are alone.
Please James, buckle up. Put on your cape. We need you.
Metro.co.uk has reached out to a representative of James O’Brien for comment.
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You can’t just fence sit on a human rights issue like this – saying nothing is not a neutral stance.