What The News?! 26/02/24

This is Christopher Curren sitting in for Autumn McNeil to bring you another eventful week in What the News?!

There is a content warning of hateful slurs on the story for Tuesday.

Monday: UK’s first trans and non-binary domestic violence refuge opens

The Loving Me project has opened a Lancashire refuge for trans and nonbinary victims of domestic violence. Purchased by The Emily Davison Centre with support from the Lancashire County Council and The Rank Foundation, the refuge is open to survivors aged 18+ from across the UK. The Loving Me project also provides a helpline and other domestic violence support services. Their focus is on by-and-for support in order to address concerns by gender minority survivors that conventional abuse services will mistreat them or not understand their needs.

In a time where transphobia often takes the form of re-litigating who is eligible to access public services, it’s encouraging to see the LGBTQ community developing its own infrastructure to meet our own needs. I have no doubt that the refuge will (unfortunately) be swamped with referrals, and the project may serve as proof-of-concept (and proof-of-demand) to help get other such projects off the drawing board.

Tuesday: Six months in prison for transphobia on social networks by calling a trans woman a hateful slur

C/W: Hateful slurs

The Barcelona High Court has sentenced a woman to six months in prison and an €3850 fine for transphobic online harassment. The defendant had a history of denigrating non-op trans people on Facebook, Instagram and the platform X formerly known as Twitter, but the case hinged on a February 2020 tweet outing a trans woman acquaintance, captioning her photo “fag with tits.” The defendant will serve a suspended sentence and will be required to take a course on non-discrimination and equal treatment. Additionally she will be barred from working professionally in teaching or sports for three and a half years.

It’s heartening to see a court taking outing seriously as a form of abuse and imposing a penalty with teeth. This sets a precedent that should lend weight to future prosecutions.

Wednesday: Pierre Poilievre’s attack on transgender people puts vulnerable Canadians at risk, Justin Trudeau says

In response to a question from online alt-right outlet Rebel Media, Canada’s Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre says he supports banning “biological males” from “female spaces” including bathrooms, changing rooms, sports teams, shelters and prisons. His remarks come a week after speaking in support of increased provincial restrictions on trans youth care recently promised (but not yet introduced) by the Premier of Alberta. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the remarks as an attack on vulnerable LGBT youth, and social democratic party leader Jagmeet Singh called them hypocritical given Poilievre’s record of voting against funding for domestic violence shelters.

Poilievre has mostly avoided putting his oar in on trans issues in the past. However, a Canadian election is expected no later than October 2025 and possibly as early as this year, and early polls have Poilievre ahead of Trudeau. His remarks are being interpreted as testing the waters: are Conservatives right that a silent majority shares their transphobic views, or is open hostility to the LGBT community off-putting to Canadian voters?

Thursday: UK’s only trans judge quits ‘as role has become politicised’

Victoria McCloud, youngest-ever King’s Bench Master of the High Court and Britain’s only transgender judge, has quit. Portions of her resignation letter have been leaked to The Times, in which McCloud describes how she became “a public figure and a target” after she was outed by a national newspaper eight years ago. McCloud points to the rise of gender-critical activists who have undermined her ability to do her job: “I am now political every time I choose where to pee. Less prosaically, the judiciary, by continuing to let me be a judge, is now at risk of being political.” Ms. McCloud will formally stand down in April of this year.

This story highlights one mechanism by which GC campaigners have managed to walk back trans inclusion: by creating a noisy, distracting circus anywhere trans people are present in public life, they sabotage the ability of public institutions to carry out their normal functions.

Friday: Nex Benedict’s family will privately investigate bullied non-binary student’s death after fight

Family of a nonbinary teenager who died the day after being attacked in a school bathroom are conducting an independent investigation into their child’s death. Nex Benedict (16) of Owasso, Oklahoma, USA was taken to hospital with facial bruising and possible concussion symptoms after being assaulted by three other students. They were discharged, but collapsed at home the following day and was then pronounced dead at hospital.  Police initially reported that the autopsy findings did not indicate the death was caused by trauma, and the cause of death is still being established. Benedict had reported being bullied since the beginning of the 2023 school year, following the passage of a state law restricting public bathroom use on the basis of the sex on their birth ceritifcate. 

One of the cruel ironies of this case is that Benedict was attacked in the bathroom the law forced them to use. Transphobes sometimes claim to want gender-separated spaces in order to prevent gendered violence – but the punishment for not fitting neatly into their procrustean categories is, of course, more gendered violence. 

Saturday: US man guilty of killing transgender woman in gender identity hate crime first

In a first for the American federal courts, a man’s murder of a transgender woman has been deemed a hate crime on the basis of gender identity. South Carolina jurors found Daqua Lameek Ritter guilty of shooting Dime Doe in an attempt to hide evidence that they had been having an affair. Previous hate crime prosecutions based on gender identity have ended in plea bargains rather than going to trial. Additional charges included use of a firearm in the crime and obstructing justice, but no information is available about the length of Ritter’s sentence.

If any good can come from this case, it will be that setting legal precedents paves the way for future verdicts along the same lines. Collecting proper hate crime statistics begins with being willing to formally identify cases as such – and not a moment too soon, as the FBI reports that the rate of hate crimes in America is at its highest since the bureau began keeping count in 1990. 

Sunday: Civil Service full of trans activists sabotaged my leadership, claims Liz Truss

Liz Truss blamed a too-progressive civil service for sabotaging her premiership at a Washington speaking engagement Wednesday. Speaking on a panel alongside Nigel Farage and Steve Bannon at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Truss explained quangos to a bemused American audience as manifestations of the “deep state” which “run everything,” adding that the Civil Service is full of “trans activists” and even “environmental extremists.” British and American attendees of the event found common ground over the assertion that left-leaning career government staffers are to blame for thwarting their respective conservative agendas.

From your lips to God’s ears, Liz.


This week’s dominant theme seems to be the judicial system, which has the power to either punish transphobia or enable it. The death of another young person hard on the heels of Brianna Ghey’s has made this a difficult week for the trans community. Let’s all strive to be gentle with one another.