Speak now or forever print retractions

Ani O’Brien
6 min readDec 9, 2019

The following ramblings are the result of my very real fear that freedom of the press and speech are being rapidly eroded in the English-speaking world and a few glasses of Sauv.

I feel sick to my stomach. The endless rollercoaster of gender identity politics seems to have now plonked me down on my arse at the Mad Hatter’s table. At least that’s how it feels in this moment. By tomorrow this will be the new normal and even scarier levels of insanity will be yet to be explored.

Cynicism aside, I felt a genuine churn of fear just now as I read Bernard Lane’s latest piece — copy-and-pasted from behind the paywall of The Australian. He wrote of a new code announced by the Australian Press Council that will make it even harder for the tiny number of actual journalists still in existence to report on issues surrounding gender identity and transgender people. The act of reporting the plain truth about a crime committed by a transgender person — like Evie Amati, the transwoman who attacked two people with an axe at a petrol station — is so fraught with risk for journalists already that few are willing to go there. Even more likely to result in reputation or career damage, is the vital investigative reporting of journalists like Lane himself who are the lone voices questioning the medical harm to children, the erosion of women’s rights, and the homophobia of gender identity activism. Up until now courage has separated these journalists from their appeasing, wilfully ignorant colleagues, but this move by the Press Council is a giant step towards an Australian media that is simply banned from telling the truth about these issues. It is chilling.

‘Deadnaming’, ‘misgendering’, and refusal to utilise Newspeak-like language will now be considered in Press Council rulings. They will have the insulting and ridiculous term “cisgender” normalised in the media giving legitimacy to the notion that we are all completely thrilled with every stereotype attributed to our sex or else we are trans. Biology and science will be bigotry, but only on this one issue. The media will be expected to report with utter seriousness on the science of climate change, on new advances in chemistry, and the physics of space exploration, but they will be required to lie about human biology. Nonsensical statements like “assigned male at birth” suggesting our sex cannot be determined by a simple chromosome test a few weeks in utero are anti-truth and have no place in journalism.

Ani O’Brien

Like good faith disagreements & principled people. Dislike disingenuousness & Foucault. Care about women’s rights & democracy. Opinions my own ⚢