Following the appearance of a transphobic cartoon in the Morning Star last week (Tuesday 18 February), UNISON received many emails and calls from members across the union.
A letter of complaint has now been sent to the editor, Ben Chacko, expressing disappointment and incredulity at the paper’s decision to publish.
It also invites the Star’s editorial team to work with UNISON’s LGBT+ activists on a plan to help rebuild trust with the trans community.
The text of the letter was as follows:
I am writing on behalf of UNISON’s presidential team and general secretary regarding the shocking, vile, transphobic cartoon that appeared in the Morning Star last week. It saw the paper sink to a new low.
When I saw the image shared on social media over the weekend, I assumed it had been published in the Daily Mail, not for one moment did I think the dreadful drawing had appeared in the Morning Star.
Images like this peddle the dangerous myth that trans people are a threat, when they’re the ones whose safety is most at risk. The irresponsible publishing of such appalling images does nothing to make them feel more secure.
By publishing this hurtful cartoon, the publication so many trade unionists support and hold dear risks appearing no better than the right-wing media they despise.
I note that an apology has now been made but this in no way makes up for the distress caused to so many. What’s worse is that this is not the first time the Star has printed transphobic material.
I find it incredulous that the cartoon managed to slip through the many editorial checks that a newspaper of such standing as the Morning Star must have in place.
Since the cartoon appeared staff at UNISON HQ have received numerous emails and phone calls from members both angry and hurt at the lack of judgement shown.
UNISON stands with our trans members and all trans people, who face high levels of discrimination and prejudice in work and increasing levels of hate and abuse in public spaces. We assumed, wrongly as it happens, that the Morning Star did too.
I look forward to hearing from you as to how the newspaper intends to rebuild trust with the trans community. I know members of our LGBT+ group would be more than happy to help you devise a plan.
UNISON assistant general secretary.