It's a truism of politics - and of life, of which politics is merely an extension - that you hate your betrayer more than your enemy. This is why there is a greater reservoir of hatred for Nick Clegg than there is for David Cameron. Cameron is a Tory, and we know we can rely on the Tories to be horrible, hateful, bigoted scum, who'll kick crutches away from the disabled and burn babies' prams for firewood. But a year ago Nick Clegg seemed to promise a new kind of politics - seemed to be the personification of Britain's own 'Obama moment' - only to throw it all away for a shot at power, turning his back on the hope he represented and everything he told us he believes in.
So in a similar way, as angry as I am with Peter Kay I find myself angrier at Channel 4 when I read that said channel - which, just last week, to general acclaim from the trans community, signed the Trans Media Watch Memorandum of Understanding - is planning to repeat the very programme in which Kay first aired his transphobic caricature, Geraldine. Yes: on March 26th, a grand total of twelve days after signing the MoU, Channel 4 plans to air a programme featuring a character and a performer universally reviled by trans people.
Let's remind ourselves what Channel 4 committed themselves to do by signing the Memorandum. The Memorandum has four principle aims: to eliminate transphobia in the media, to end the provision of misinformation about transgender issues in the media, to increase positive, well-informed representations of trans people in the media, and to ensure that trans people working in or with the media are treated with the same respect as cis people in equivalent positions.
The relevant principles transgressed by 'Peter Kay's Britain's Got the Pop Factor And Oh For God's Sake Stop the Title We Got the Joke Ten Words Ago You Unfunny Buffoon' are principles two and three. Kay's caricature 'Geraldine' is nothing but misinformation about trans people; and this laughable transface mockery is far from a 'positive' or 'well-informed' representation. So why are Channel 4 doing this?
The only inference I can make from this scheduling decision is that they just don't care. And that in fact they never did. Channel 4 were happy to use Trans Media Watch's good intentions as a way to score a little good publicity (though notably less keen to trumpet their decision on their news programming - a reticence to show solidarity with trans people in the mainstream media thankfully not shared by others, such as the New Statesman's David Allen Green), but when it comes down to it, doing the right thing by one of the most vulnerable groups in society means nothing for Channel 4 compared to the cheap ratings pop a rerun of Kay's godawful talent show spoof will garner in the wake of his charidee single with Susan Boyle.
Should this really surprise us? This is the same channel that broadcast an episode of The IT Crowd which featured, as its comic climax, a cis man beating a trans woman unconscious; the same channel which broadcast Frankie Boyle making rape jokes involving a disabled child. This is the channel which only did something about the Big Brother racism scandal when rioters in India began burning contestants in effigy.
Fine words are all very well, but Channel 4 have shown again and again that they only do what's right when people put pressure on them to do so. Perhaps this is what Channel 4's head of creative diversity, Stuart Cosgrove was alluding to when he said that Trans Media Watch needed to feel free to 'shaft us' now and again (as reported by Chrisine Burns at Just Plain Sense).
Sadly, it isn't people like Cosgrove who wind up getting shafted, but trans people, again and again, when cis people act as if we don't really matter to them, as if we're not as important as profits or ratings or their own smug peace of mind. We may be a minority, but I'm sick to the back teeth of being betrayed by people and organisations I admire.
That's why I've started a petition to ask Channel 4 to live up to their promises and not air Peter Kay's transphobic comedy special again. Please sign, and send a message to Channel 4 that fine words and big parties are not enough: that we expect to see them act on the promises they've made, and that we'll judge the extent to which they really value and respect trans voices by their actions, not their PR.