Poor Germaine Greer. The feminist writer was glitter-bombed by
trans activists at a book signing in New Zealand today, reports
Pink News. The stunt, usually reserved for homophobic politicians
in the US, was in response to Greer's history of transphobic
comments. In 2009, Greer claimed in the Guardian that trans women
were "ghastly parodies" and that: "We pretend that all the people
passing for female really are. Other delusions may be challenged,
but not a man's delusion that he is female."
Ten years previously, in her book the Whole Woman, she
"Governments that consist of very few women have hurried to
recognise as women men who believe that they are women and have had
themselves castrated to prove it, because they see women not as
another sex but as a non-sex.
"No so-called sex-change has ever begged for a uterus-and-ovaries
transplant; if uterus-and-ovaries transplants were made mandatory
for wannabe women they would disappear overnight. The insistence
that man-made women be accepted as women is the institutional
expression of the mistaken conviction that women are defective
In addition to reducing womanhood to the ownership of a uterus,
she opposed the election of a trans woman to the staff at the
women-only Newnham College, Cambridge, in the 1990s.
It's a kick in the teeth to see bigots like Greer trotted out on
shows like Extras, Have I Got News For You and Newsnight. That her
offensive comments go unchallenged hammers home how utterly
marginalised trans people are in 21st Century Britain. I'm pleased
Greer was glitter-bombed. It draws attention to her repulsive
ideas, and educates anyone who mistakenly thought that she was an
advocate of sexual and gender freedom. As one tweeter put it: "I
used to like Germaine Greer before I found out she's a cissexist
Don't write her off completely though. Just because Greer holds
some unpleasant views, that doesn't mean we should ignore her
important cultural contributions. After all, where would feminism
be without her 2005 Celebrity Big Brother stint? Think about
Last Sunday, Radio 1's The Surgery with Aled helped young
listeners explore their thoughts on sexuality. Anti-bullying
campaigner Elly Barnes popped in for a chat, along with the
station's resident psychologist Aaron Balick and Stonewall's Laurie
Oliver. During the final hour, the conversation switched to
transgender issues. I was asked on to make the point that being
trans is not a sexual orientation: sexuality is who you find
attractive. Gender identity is who you are, or what shoes you like.
Best part was when Aled asked me if I had a willy. We'd discussed
the questions before the show, and I agreed this would be a good
way to spark discussion. I didn't tell Aled what my response would
be though: "Well I can answer your question, but first you've got
to tell me the size… shape of your genitals. I want to know. I'm
curious!" At first the audience was silent, clearly not expecting
me to reply with anything other than an answer. Then the room
erupted in laughter, and the point was made. It was really
empowering to flip the question back in this way, and I'm surprised
that trans people don't do this more often. They're called private
parts for a reason, you know.
Grab a copy of DIVA's May issue for more of my thoughts on the
media's obsession with trans people's genitals.
Finally, a priest who refused a funeral-goer communion, because
she is lesbian, has been suspended for "intimidating behaviour"
"Rev. Marcel Guarnizo, who last month denied Barbara Johnson the
bread and wine at the funeral mass, has been placed on
administrative leave from the ministry in the Washington
During a funeral service, he told Ms Johnson: 'I cannot give you
Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the
Church, that is a sin.'
However, the church said that his suspension was unrelated to the
"Bishop Barry Knestout, a top administrator in the archdiocese,
says the penalty was for 'engaging in intimidating behavior [sic]
toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper
None of this comes as a surprise. Homophobia is more than a
harmless quirk of character: it reveals hatred and ignorance. Quite
simply, homophobes are unpleasant people. It's a shame that the
Catholic church won't condemn the priest's homophobia, but it's not
the end of the world. He's outed himself as nasty and spiteful -
and there's no heading back to the closet.
Follow Paris on Twitter: @ParisLees