January 31st, 2010


The Guardian and Me

I have been thinking about the ongoing obsession of the Guardian with publishing transphobic articles, and it occurs to me that it might all be my fault.

Many years ago, I wrote a profile of Cynthia Payne, the Streatham madame, for the sex education magazine at the time of Paul Bailey's book on her. I rather got on with Cynthia - I have a fondness for rogues, I fear - and she asked me to the launch party of the book.

I was rather disturbed to see a Guardian diary piece in the aftermath of the party in which I was referred to by name and appearance, and mispronouned; it also assumed that I was at this party in a brothel doing business, as it were. So I rang up the Guardian and spoke to the young journalist who had written the piece, and remarked to him that it was unprofessional of him to assume that a fellow journalist was the other kind of prostitute and that misgendering is simple rudeness.

He got quite humphy with me - I think he felt that assuming that a trans woman was more likely to be a whore than a journalist was not at all unreasonable or something I was being uppity to criticize him for.

Of course, the journalist in question grew up to be Alan Rusbridger, and edit the damn newspaper, but at least he cannot say he was not told.

I really wish I did not live in the land of urban rumour and biographical anecdote.

Historical query

In the chunk of her memoirs printed in today's Observer, Patti Smith talks about how her couple of early meetings with Mapplethorpe led to his saving her from a predator. She was working in a bookstore, was starving and had just discovered that her first week's pay was withheld:

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The thing I want to know is, who was the science fiction writer?