Top Stonewall staffer forced to take a year off work due to ceaseless transphobia

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Stonewall marching in London Pride in 2015. (Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty)

The head of media at Stonewall has opened up about his decision to take a year off work due to the “overwhelming” stress of dealing with transphobia in the UK.

Jeffrey Ingold, who is cisgender, wrote an article for Metro explaining that the UK’s ceaselessly toxic “debate” surrounding trans rights has left him burnt out.

He said he has been the subject of “countless online pile-ons” as a result of his work with Stonewall, which is routinely targeted by transphobes for fighting for full LGBT+ equality and rights. As time went by, it became increasingly difficult for Ingold to shake off the abuse.

Ultimately, Ingold developed a habit of compulsively checking the news and Twitter “every 20 minutes” in a desperate bid to keep up with the rising wave of transphobia in the UK.

“The tidal wave of transphobia has been so overwhelming and unrelenting that I passed my breaking point and have now had to take a year off work,” he wrote.

Ingold said the “tipping point” of Britain’s transphobia problem came in 2017 when the then-government announced plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). The subsequent public consultation “opened the floodgates to an unprecedented torrent of anti-trans opposition in the press, parliament and online,” Ingold wrote.

He knew transphobia had become “respectable” when an Australian feminist reportedly compared trans women to parasites during a presentation to parliament in 2018.

Jeffrey Ingold and Stonewall were accused of ‘sterilising children’

The toxic debate led to Stonewall facing relentless abuse and hateful comments, with transphobes on social media routinely accusing the trailblazing charity of “sterilising children” and “erasing homosexuality” – all for the simple crime of fighting for trans rights.

Before long, that abuse became personal, with Ingold facing the brunt of it.

“On good days, I can easily shake it off, but over time and on bad days, it’s just exasperating seeing yourself get ripped apart by people you’ve never met,” he wrote.

The abusive comments started to “eat away” at Ingold, causing him to settle into “a constant state of anxiety”.

“I have been forced to admit I’m burned out by the vitriol – and I’m a cisgender, white, middle-class gay man,” he wrote.

Ingold went on to point out that, while the abuse he receives is shocking, it is only a fraction of what trans people face every day.

He said online abuse is “only the tip of the iceberg” for trans people, with many facing shocking hostility in their everyday lives.

Closing out his article, Ingold urged people to open their eyes to the “unprecedented, highly orchestrated campaign of contempt and misinformation” about trans people.

He called on people to speak out when they see anti-trans abuse, and said equality will never be a reality in the UK if marginalised groups are left behind.

While Ingold is taking a sabbatical from Stonewall, he promised to continue fighting for trans rights in a personal capacity.

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