This morning I got contacted by a newspaper asking me to write an article on the trans issue de jour. (Don’t ask, you don’t want to know). I’m not particularly interested in celebrity gossip, but I did think it might be useful to write something about how celebrity transitions, particularly Caitlyn Jenner’s, are something of a double-edged sword. They get us a lot of publicity, but it can often be bad publicity. Jenner, in particular, infuriates many trans activists because her life experiences, and some of her personal values, are so far removed from those of the rest of us.
Anyway, they said they liked my suggestion and I spent a couple of hours writing an article. When it came back from editing it was substantially revised. It was clear that the paper had an angle it wanted from the article, and where I hadn’t provided that they had put words in my mouth. They had also re-worked parts of my article in ways that would have got me crucified on Twitter had it been published. I suspect that they don’t fully understand what they did, because they are not as sensitive to the nuances of trans politics as I am, but trust me it was bad.
So I pulled the article. I have quite enough (unpaid) work to do right now, and I have a sneaking suspicion that carrying on with it would just have resulted in my getting pressured to approve things I didn’t want to say.
Doubtless that means that I won’t get contacted by newspapers again. I’m OK with that. If people aren’t prepared to trust my expertise, and want to sex up things I have written to create controversy, I don’t want to work with them. We’ve gone way beyond the point where we should be grateful for any acknowledgement that we exist. If people want me to work for them for free, they can start by showing a bit of respect rather than thinking they can use me as a front for what they want said on trans issues.