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Moore, Burchill and the Web – A Timeline

January 18, 2013

We’ve put together a rough timeline of what’s been going on since the 8th of January when Suzanne Moore’s original article was published followed by Julie Burchill’s column a couple of days later and the ensuing online debates. We’ll be adding relevant articles and links as they arrive.  Please feel free to comment below and share links of anything you find useful.

Tuesday 8 January: The New Statesman publishes Suzanne Moore’s piece “Seeing red: The power of female anger”. The line that provoked debate was:

The cliché is that female anger is always turned inwards rather than outwards into despair. We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual. We are angry that men do not do enough…

An article explains why this could have been phrased better and a debate grows on Twitter:

Here’s an account of tweets on Storify and another timeline of tweets on Storify.

Wednesday 9 – Thursday 10 January: Moore responds to the Twitter debate in the Guardian, “I don’t care if you were born a woman or became one“.

Some responses online:

Support from journalist Julie Bindel sparks further debate:

Friday 11 January:

10.51am: Suzanne Moore leaves Twitter and Pink News reports it here.

Support for Moore grows on Twitter: 

Saturday 12 January: Francis Sedgemore, science writer and journalist writes “On Suzanne Moore, gender identity and penis fixation”.

Sunday 13 January: Julie Burchill’s piece in defence of Moore is published in the Observer entitled “Transsexuals Should Cut it Out”. It was removed the following day, (see below for more details); here’s the PDF.

Monday 14 January:

Suzanne Moore returns to Twitter, issues an apology and thanks her supporters before subsequently leaving again.

Burchill’s article is amended to replace the word “transsexuals” with “transgender people”.

5.48pm: “The Observer withdraws Julie Burchill column as editor publishes apology”. The print version remains and only the online article is removed along with over 2,000 comments. John Mulholland editor of the Observer issues a statement:

On this occasion we got it wrong and in light of the hurt and offence caused I apologise and have made the decision to withdraw the piece. The Observer Readers’ Editor will report on these issues at greater length.

Stephen Pritchard, Reader’s Editor continues the inquiry.

The New Statesman Trans Issues Week (planned previously): Writing for NS Trans Issues Week, Jennie Kermode outlines the facts about trans issues and language: “Everything you’ve always wanted to know about trans issues (but were afraid to ask)”.

Tuesday 15 January:

Wednesday 16 January:

Writer and trans activist Roz Kaveney, Columnist Toby Young, Laurie Penny Contributing Editor at the New Statesman and former Editor of The Guardian Peter Preston discuss the role of a columnist, free speech and social media on Radio 4’s The Media Show.

Thursday 17 January: The Guardian publishes Moore’s most recent response “It saddens me that supporting freedom makes me an opponent of equality”.

Rod Liddle writes “How Moore, Burchill and Featherstone all had a lovely bitch fight” in The Spectator.

Channel 4 News hosts a Google+ Hangout with Dr. Sally Hines, Paris Lees, Sarah Savage and Gary Ennis, debating “Transsexual people and the online ‘age of rage'”:


Peaceful Demonstration: 

Over 100 attend a “Transgender rights protest at Guardian and Observer offices over Burchill row”.

Guest blogger Hyosho writes for Media Darlings “Please no Moore: A snapshot of transphobia in Britain’s broadsheets”, explaining the issue with Moore’s original statement:

This is a related issue which speaks to a lack of intersectional understanding, but it is not the primary problem. The main issue is that it is dehumanising – it posits a stereotype as the norm, and uses it for a punchline. Moore is relying on the reader’s mental image of a transsexual woman for her joke’s humour and force, assuming that her reader shares her prejudices and preconceptions, mainly that a “Brazilian transsexual” is a) a trans woman, b) of a particular physical appearance, and most importantly c) not a real woman.

Friday 18 January: Roy Greenslade reports in The Guardian “PCC to investigate Julie Burchill column” and “Burchill column ‘a collective failing of editing’ by senior staff”.

The Observer reader’s editor, Stephen Pritchard provides a full explanation for the removal of Burchill’s piece.

Saturday 19 January: Deborah Orr writes “Feminism shouldn’t be about telling trans women they’re not female enough”  in The Guardian.  

Sunday 20 January:  The Observer’s ‘The big issue’ publishes “Prejudice: trans people shouldn’t have been subjected to such abuse”.

Monday 21 January:  

Tuesday 22 January:  Patrick Barkham writes “Voices from the trans community: There will always be prejudice”, in The Guardian Society.

Thursday 24 January: Fionola Meredith from The Irish Times writes “It is important to defend the right to offend”.

Friday 25 January: Diane Leigh Shipley posts on the blog Bea “In defence of intersectionality (and ‘priviliege’, and trigger warnings…)”

Monday 28 January:

Response to the Trans Media Action Timeline from Suzanne Moore:

Tuesday 29 January: Stavvers posts in Another angry woman “The value of trigger warnings”.

Wednesday 30 January: Paris Lees comments “Why it’s wrong to defend Burchill’s ‘right to offend'” in response to Fionola Meredith’s piece from Thursday 24th January .

We’re continuing to collect interesting links, articles and stories so please feel free to share any below.  

28 Comments leave one →
  1. Maya permalink
    January 18, 2013 5:59 pm has a bit more detail of the exchange with @jonanamary politely questioning Moore about her choice of imagery.

    • January 21, 2013 2:36 pm

      Hi Maya, thanks, there’s a link for the Storify in the earlier section of the Timeline.

  2. January 18, 2013 6:18 pm

    Reblogged this on flyingontherainbow.

  3. January 18, 2013 9:04 pm

    Here is a recording of Roz Kaveney debating Toby Young on Radio 4’s Media Show at 16.30 on Weds 16th Jan if that’s any use:

  4. Alison Bancroft permalink
    January 18, 2013 9:29 pm

    I blogged about it here:

  5. January 18, 2013 10:31 pm

    someone suggested to me that censorship shouldn’t be acceptable, re: all this moore and burchill stuff…
    i asked her if she thought it would be fine to use racist slurs and the N word to describe black people, or if censorship was okay then.
    guess her answer?
    *she’s not even black*
    “hell no!” she said.

  6. January 19, 2013 3:15 pm

    Small timeline point… My blog on Friday 11th was written AFTER I saw Stella Duffy’s which had been published earlier that evening. It was because I looked at the comments to Stella’s post and realised nobody in there was questionning WHY trans people might have been angry. At that time I had seen nothing of the original tweets and was therefore coming into the story taking the narrative about angry trans tweets at face value. Had I realised at the time how much that had been spun (and Stella’s blog certainly reinforced that narrative) I would have written quite a different piece … though still with the goal of trying to suggest ways of rescuing the situation.

    • January 21, 2013 2:47 pm

      Thanks for your input Christine. I’ve updated the Timeline and included the audioBoo link.

  7. January 22, 2013 12:46 pm

    Very many thanks for the link to my blog!
    I’ve been collecting links myself – I was working on a timeline of events on my own blog, but now this exists it makes a lot more sense for me to contribute here instead. I’ll go through my list shortly and see what isn’t on here already.

  8. January 23, 2013 7:48 am

    NUJ Equality Council Statement on Julie Burchill

  9. Marko Attila Hoare permalink
    January 27, 2013 4:59 am

    I found this personal account by Francis Sedgemore quite moving:

    • January 29, 2013 3:08 pm

      Thank you for this link. An earlier article but we’ve just included it.

    • January 29, 2013 3:30 pm

      Thanks for drawing attention to this, Marko. It’s unusual and valuable to hear the perspective of adult children of those who transitioned in the past. Starkly points up the difference in quality of outcome depending on social acceptance or ostracism. Some good points made.

  10. January 28, 2013 1:26 pm

    I wrote a piece setting out the timeline of events, and why intersectionality (and other terms mocked by Moore and others) really matters:

  11. February 15, 2013 10:41 am Here is a video I made for my student newspaper on the topic.


  1. The dinosaurs never expected expected either… « It's Just A Hobby
  2. A timeline of ‘Burchillgate’… | Hel Gurney
  3. In defence of intersectionality (and “privilege”, and trigger warnings…) « Bea
  4. The Responsibility of Rhetoric: Feminism and Transphobia | TransRadical
  5. a trans feminist condemnation of rape comments directed at suzanne moore « leftytgirl
  6. Where Have All the Comments Gone? | Trans Scribe

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