Guardian journalist attacks ‘progressive’ media for capitulation to trans activists

A Guardian columnist has taken a swipe at progressive media organisations for allowing activists to shut down criticism of transgender ideology.

Writing for free speech website UnHerd, American journalist Hadley Freeman said that when she wanted to voice doubts about radical gender views she received no support.

She wrote that she began to have “tentative discussions about this with other progressive journalists, but I was invariably the only one at the table who believed (or was willing to say out loud) that there is a clear clash between gender-based rights and women’s rights”.


The self-described left-wing journalist was met with hostility over her view that “women’s sex-based rights exist for a reason”, with one telling her she sounded like a “bigoted radical feminist”.

unless I repeated the mantra ‘trans women are women’, I was a bigot

Another claimed that transgender people are “the most oppressed minority in Britain” and by arguing for women’s sex-based rights, Freeman was attacking them.

She said many in the media are “loath to raise any questions about the transgender movement”, and that “unless I repeated the mantra ‘trans women are women’, I was a bigot”.

Capitulating to bullies

When Freeman wrote a column expressing anger that men were telling women they should not question gender ideology, she received a backlash online, but said this was “definitely preferable to staying silent just because I was scared”.

But she said others reacted very differently when confronted by the bullying. “It was astonishing to me how quickly universities, publishing houses, NHS services, political parties, newspapers and TV networks capitulated to the gender ideologues”.

“Many of the people demanding these institutional shifts were and are not transgender themselves. They are bullies who set themselves up as moral arbiters, using self-righteous hysteria and factually questionable claims to demand censorship, instilling fear that anyone caught engaging in wrongspeak or even wrongthink will be publicly shamed and professionally destroyed.

“Bullies who insist they need to reshape women’s rights entirely, and then accuse any woman who even wants to discuss this of being hateful, stupid and dangerous.”

bullies who set themselves up as moral arbiters, using self-righteous hysteria and factually questionable claims to demand censorship


Freeman said she does not hate trans people and feels nothing but compassion for them, but that she will not give up speaking out for women’s sex-based rights.

She says instead her anger “is directed at the cowardly institutions that have allowed themselves to be bullied by a tiny misogynistic online minority instead of maintaining even a shadow of a backbone and doing what they know is right”.

Many editors agree the need to explore debates thoroughly, she said, but all-too-frequently they were more concerned with being on ‘the right side of history’.

Others were too afraid of online backlash, with one telling Freeman she could not write a magazine article about the vilification of JK Rowling because it would cause “too much of a Twitter storm”.

Redefining reality

The journalist continued: “The double standards are ludicrous: you can now say any old garbage about women, but anything that even questions gender ideology will be anxiously second-guessed and overly edited into oblivion, no matter how many facts and even genuine feelings are behind it.”

The lack of support made Freeman seriously consider quitting journalism, but she came to the conclusion that there was a fate worse than being hated, “and that is allowing bullies to reframe the world, to dictate what we can all think and to define my reality”.

She concluded: “They might have triumphed over some institutions, but they haven’t triumphed over me.”

Also see: Free speech

Michael Buerk: ‘Freedom of speech seriously under threat at BBC’

Professor blasts ‘dismal failure’ of universities to defend free speech

Amnesty attack on free speech ‘chilling’, says founder’s granddaughter

Related Resources