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November 25, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:48am

Why Suzanne Moore resigned: Says Guardian editors removed views on trans issues from comment pieces

By Charlotte Tobitt

Suzanne Moore has accused the Guardian of “utter cowardice” and claimed she was effectively censored by editors and bullied out by colleagues.

Moore resigned as a Guardian columnist earlier this month and has now confirmed she was in part driven out by a letter signed by 338 editorial, tech and commercial staff at the title criticising its “pattern of publishing transphobic content”.

In a piece of more than 7,000 words for “deep dive” news website Unherd, Moore on Wednesday wrote that the letter “made it clear” to her it was not just social media activists and trolls who wanted her “out of the paper” because of her work.

“My fellow staff were gunning for me: time to hand over my job to the young Corbyn crew who spend their lives slagging off the mainstream media but cannot wait to be part of it.

“Could they write a good sentence? Say something from the heart? Does that matter? Apparently not, they simply think the right things.”

Moore added that in “30 years of journalism I have often disagreed with people and had stand-up rows with them but no one has ever done something so underhand as to try and get someone fired because of one column”, characterising events as her being bullied out of the newspaper.

The backlash came after Moore wrote a column in March this year about gender which said women were losing opportunities after asserting their “basic rights”, including the point that biological sex is real and it is not transphobic to say so.

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She argued that if the Guardian did not have this debate the right-wing press would, and claimed she had been trying for months to write about the so-called “trans debate”.

But, she said, if she ever included a line “about female experience belonging to people with female bodies, and the significance of this, it is always subbed out”.

“It is disappeared. Somehow, this very idea is being blocked, not explicitly, but it certainly isn’t being published. My editors say things like: ‘It didn’t really add to the argument’, or it is a ‘distraction’ from the argument.”

Moore claimed she was instead encouraged to write about lifestyle subjects – despite winning the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2019 for columns on the Me Too movement, the politics of remembrance and the aftermath of the Brexit referendum.

“Maybe they were steering me away from certain subjects because they thought they were dealing with some mad old bint, or maybe they were scared and had been indoctrinated into the cult of righteousness that the Guardian embodies,” Moore said.

She also suggested journalism has “been in a strange place lately, unsure of itself and what it should be doing…”

Former Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald is another journalist who has recently resigned a post over editorial differences. He accused the website he co-founded, The Intercept, of trying to censor him over an article he planned to write about US president-elect Joe Biden.

Moore said she felt “fucking awful” after the letter to management was leaked and that she thought editors might stand up for her or issue a public statement, but they did not.

“This to me was utter cowardice. Shouldn’t you stand by your writers? But on this issue the Guardian has run scared.

“I suspect this is partly because of Guardian US sensitivities and, partly because the paper receives sponsorship from the Open Society foundation, which promotes trans rights.”

Moore’s criticisms of The Guardian extended to when she first worked there in the 1990s, saying she had to fight for equal pay and an equitable move from the women’s pages to the comment section despite winning Columnist of the Year at the British Press Awards.

She also said that no one at the newspaper ever spoke to her about the relentless abuse she received online for the past seven years for her coverage of women and trans issues.

“Do they care? Why should they? They should care, if they truly want more “diversity” in journalism, but that’s a lie which liberals tell themselves,” she wrote.

“How can you bring on working-class writers if you damn them for not knowing the codes upon which the media runs? If you won’t tolerate the heresies of outsiders? If — gasp — they haven’t been to Oxbridge?”

In 2013 the Observer removed a controversial column by Julie Burchill after she made comments about transgender people including that they were “dicks in chicks’ clothing”.

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