Model and trans activist, Munroe Bergdorf, has opened up about the devastating impact of ‘casual’ racism and transphobia in an open letter to Baroness Emma Nicholson.
Following accusations of Nicholson posting transphobic and racist tweets, the Booker Prize announced they would be dropping Nicholson as its honorary vice president on June 24. Two days later, the Baroness released an apology and extended an invitation to meet with Bergdorf.
On Wednesday, July 1, Bergdorf penned an open letter in response to Nicholson’s public apology over claims she tweeted “transphobic, homophobic and racist” comments, including misgendering the model. In her statement, the Baroness claimed, “I expressed myself casually, and in a manner which suggests that I do not support the rights of the LGBQT+ community, to and about Munroe Bergdorf.”
Bergdorf publicly thanked the Baroness for releasing an apology, however scrutinized the sincerity of her statement. The trans activist wrote, “Though I echo your call for conciliation, I’m afraid I find it difficult to believe that there was anything ‘casual’ about the transphobic themes present in your tweets regarding my identity as a trans woman of colour.”
— Black Trans Lives Matter ✊? (@MunroeBergdorf) July 1, 2020
In regard to Nicholson’s word choice on refuting claims over “transphobic, homophobic and racist” comments, Bergdorf stated, “‘Casual’ is a term I have come to know only too well as a woman of colour. ‘Casual racism’, for instance, is not casual for those who suffer it. ‘Casual sexism’ is not casual for those who experience it. Casual homophobia and antisemitism would rightly not be treated by you, your followers, the press, politicians or wider British society as a mere moment of carelessness.”
Bergdorf further described in heartfelt detail the emotional impact of fighting to be visible. She wrote, “I may seem to some an outspoken, confident trans woman of colour, but every fight I have won has taken a chunk out of me and I live with the knowledge that my every achievement in life will be seen by my detractors as an act of aggression and a justified cause for attack.”
In her open letter, Munroe Bergdorf called out Baroness Nicholson over recently posting anti-trans tweets following her apology, including a call for Twitter to reinstate Graham Linehan’s account. Bergdorf wrote, “I worry that your activity in the last few hours speaks to the truth behind your apology. That you are more concerned with your own crumbling reputation as complaints gather and grow by your name than you are for any need to reconcile our considerable differences.”
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