Nim Ralph Profile picture
10 Jun, 28 tweets, 8 min read
A thread 🧵
- the media want to present the Forstater ruling as a win for free speech & anti-trans views because it serves them
- they intentionally polarise this as win/lose because it’s a tactic of a wider strategy
- we all won today because there aren’t “two sides” /1
Today’s Maya Forstater is a win for everyone; we are all entitled to our personal philosophical beliefs and none of us are allowed to use those beliefs to discriminate against or harm others /2
BUT The media will have you believing that transphobes had a legal victory today. This is a manipulation of the facts to further their transphobic agenda - and the culture war it hinges on. /4
Their framing (that it’s a victory for “gender critical” feminists and free speech) is entirely based on an image of trans people (particularly trans women) they’ve conjured in the press to polarise the current situation. An anti-free speech, authoritarian straw person. /5
This is a persistent media tactic; identify a set of values that resonate with people you want to reach, assign the opposite of those values to a group you want alienate, frame the story as a polarised for & against of those values, do not let those people speak for themselves /6
In this case; straw trans people are drawn up and the media tell the story that we are against free speech, and want to roll back rights for women or faith groups or people’s philosophical beliefs etc. Trans people don’t have access to refute this, but responding to this /7
Framing also only makes the frame stronger.

So today they are trying to frame this as a win for transphobic views over trans people, as an attempt to shift the Overton window on transphobia. But it’s really just a win for everyone. Philosophical belief is protected. /8
Good it’s a win for all of us. As is the right to not be discriminated against.

While I can’t speak for “trans people” anymore than the mainstream media can, I’m yet to come across organised trans groups who feels that a right to philosophical beliefs is a bad thing. /9
@mlothianmclean and @Mermaids_Gender have given a more detailed and clear break down of what’s in the ruling here: /11
Something I want to add to in all of this though is about the strategy that underpins framing like this. Creating a “two sides” framing is a well trodden political strategy and I want to break it down a little. /12
This whole framing of “two sides” or a “debate” or “rights in conflict” is an purposeful way of trying to shift people’s opinions by reaching them through their values and needs in day to day life. There are very many more than 2 groups in this moment. /13
There’s anti-trans feminists, far right, culture war protagonists, mainstream media, apathetic public, ‘live and let live’ public, sympathetic families and friends of trans ppl, unsympathetic families and friends of trans ppl, trans ppl, other groups attacked by culture war… /14
None of these contingent groups are simple or coherent or homogenous in and of themselves either. But they show us a spectrum of people invested in, affected by and part of the conversation (and they’re all positively effected by today’s ruling) /15
As an aside, @Chican3ry has posted before about the problem with calling all anti-trans groups TERFs and/or homogenising the groups who attack us… /16
So there’s all these different groups from trans people to people who support us, people who don’t care and people who are actively and passively against us. In campaign strategy there’s a tool for mapping this called a spectrum of allies. /17
I’m not sure who first created it but I learnt about it from a US social action training group called Training for Change. /18
When building a campaign to move people on an issue, you think about which stakeholder groups might be in edge section of the spectrum. The strategy is:
- never waste your time trying to move active opposition (and rarely ever bother with passive opposition either) /19
- You only want to shift other groups 1 dial towards you, you don’t need to bring everyone on board to be an active supporter
- you want to marginalise your opposition and shrink their “wedge” proportionally
- when opposition are losing they often get louder&more vicious /20
So if we use this for trans folks it might look something like this (this is illustrative and not intended to be “right” or comprehensive): /21
What isn’t shown is the power differentials of stakeholders so broadly here we have groups trying to live their lives with ltd. resources in most segments & people with $$$, political & media power in the active opposition which makes them feel bigger than they are /22
But I’m terms of tracking the size of the wedges proportionate to numbers of where ppl are on the issue right now it’d look more like this, with active opposition relatively small /23
So what do you do to try and shift people? Creating polarising narratives and “wedge issues” used to try to move people from where they are to where you want them to be. You do this by linking values and issues they care about to the issue you want them to pay attn too: /24
So this is why it’s in the media and transphobes interest to frame today’s ruling as a “win” against us, instead of it being a ruling that says we all have a right to philosophical beliefs but that doesn’t legitimate is discriminating against others. /25
Although I’ve used their frames in this thread to explain them - the trick for us is to *avoid* playing into their frames (I fall foul of this often eg. Saying “we are winning”) and understand where to place our energy in reaching people and where not too. /26
This framework is all about the framing and messaging of issues that trans people are used as political scapegoats for and isn’t about substituting trans organising and solidarity work for messaging and narrative work. There’s far more positive things you can do for trans /27
People than get sucked into narrative wars on the terms of people who attack us and as always @HJosephineGiles excellent articulation of trans liberation is a great place to start understanding trans liberation on our terms… /28

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More from @NMRLPH

27 Jun 20
Trans allyship: a thread.

I've been asked to speak on panels about trans activism a lot the last few years, esp through pride month. One question I *always* get asked is: what can people do to be in solidarity/allyship. I've been asked it year on year on year:
1. Remember Trans ppl are many &not the same: This is true in v.many ways; the spectrum of trans men, women, agender, nb, genderqueer folks. But Trans people are also Black, PoC, disabled, autistic, poor etc. Don't centre white non-disabled transness &add the rest of us on later.
1a. This should be at the forefront of your mind when thinking about Trans solidarity, Black trans women, Trans sex workers, disabled trans people and poor trans people are all the *most* affected by anti-trans violence, and systemic inequalities.
Read 32 tweets
17 Jun 20
When I’m not on twitter I spend my life training activists, campaigners and change-makers on how to make effective, strategic and regenerative social change. In movement theory there is a concept of a “movement lifecycle” which I think is really important for ppl to know about rn A graph with X axis as emotional state and y as time. Showin
When looking at movements throughout history they have a typical cycle of energy and activity. Most people think of a movement as existing in its “uprising” and it’s “peak”. These are stages when there’s been a “trigger moment” that kicks of rapid change and attention
There are lots of types of trigger moments but right now are unprecedented times in my lifetime and we are living through a few simultaneously (on different scales) e.g. COVID-19 and global lockdowns, the murder of George Floyd, the reform of the GRA and many more
Read 12 tweets
7 Jun 20
1. JK Rowling is out here saying that trans ppl are trying to erase sex as a concept and that her life experience is as a female. Here’s a thread on why she’s confused.
Firstly, She’s dog whistling that trans ppls very existence denies the existence of sex
2. This is partly based on transphobia-specifically the idea that if a trans woman is a woman it erases&attacks all other experiences of womanhood (as opposed to understanding that groups of women experience different intersections of oppression. She should read some bell hooks)
3. It’s partly based on some trans ppl (myself incl.) believing sex is a social construct. This isn’t “trans ideology”, many trans ppl don’t care or agree. We aren’t a homogenous group. We are all just out here trying to live & survive while others make meaning of us and theorise
Read 14 tweets
14 May 20
Yesterday I did a takeover of @travisalabanza's Instagram to talk about Trans activism in the UK. Thx to everyone who engaged. I thought I'd do a little thread to share headlines on here including 5 things you can do to support trans folks in the UK now: 1/10
Some context and further reading on the situation in the UK for trans people within a wider political landscape from: Juliet Jacques, @Chican3ry, @MichelleOToolee and myself 2/10
Some context on the immediate situation around the GRA, Liz Truss and COVID19 from: @vicparsons_ a report:, @WhatTheTrans @NotRightRuth @green_susie100 a podcast: and a statement from @Spectra_London 3/10
Read 10 tweets

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