What did Róisín Murphy say about trans rights and why is it so controversial?

Róisín Murphy has been criticised online for a statement she posted after fans unearthed a comment about the use of puberty blockers.

The singer came under fire recently after she posted a comment on Facebook using her personal profile where she criticised the use of puberty blockers – medicines used to delay the changes of puberty for transgender and gender-diverse youth.

Taking to Twitter to explain her comment after it was discovered by fans, Murphy said she had been “thrown into a very public discourse,” adding: “I will now completely bow out of this conversation within the public domain.”

óisín Murphy, full name Róisín Marie Murphy, performs in concert at Castello Sforzesco. Milan (Italy), July 16th, 2023
Róisín Murphy performs in concert at Castello Sforzesco. Milan (Italy), July 16th, 2023. CREDIT: Elena Di Vincenzo/Getty

What did Róisín Murphy say about trans rights?

In her original Facebook comment, Murphy said: “Please don’t call me a terf [trans exclusionary radical feminist]. But puberty blockers ARE FUCKED, absolutely desolate, big Pharma laughing all the way to the bank. Little mixed up kids are vulnerable and need to be protected, that’s just true.”

After criticism from fans and trans rights groups, she took to Twitter to explain her comments, saying: “I have been thrown into a very public discourse in an arena I’m uncomfortable in and deeply unsuitable for. I cannot apologise enough for being the reason for this eruption of damaging and potentially dangerous social-media fire and brimstone. To witness the ramifications of my actions and the divisions it has caused is heartbreaking.”

“I should’ve known too that I was stepping out of line. I’ve spent my whole life celebrating diversity and different views, but I never patronise or cynically aim my music directly at the pockets of any demographic,” she continued. “For those of you who are leaving me, or have already left, I understand, I really do, but please know I have loved every one of you.”

Murphy added: “I will now completely bow out of this conversation within the public domain. I’m not in the slightest bit interested in turning it into ANY kind of ‘campaign’, because campaigning is not what I do. […] My true calling is music and music will never exclude any of us.”

Why are her comments controversial?

Since her comments and subsequent explanation, Murphy has been criticised by fans on social media.

“You claim to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community and perform at queer festivals such as Homobloc,” queer artist Joanna Cuddle wrote on Twitter, “but here you are letting down your trans fans (and any trans friends you may have) by buying into “gender critical” transphobic conspiracy theories. You’re doing this, rn.”

Others have also criticised Murphy’s comments, with one writing: “This is cis privilege. She can make ignorant comments about trans kids being “mixed up kids” and say “big pharma is laughing all the way to the bank” and then just “bow out.” Trans people can’t “bow out” of the hurt she caused with her ill-educated comments about them, can they?”

Others have been pointing to Murphy’s recent interviews, in which she praises her heavily queer audience.

“To say you are proud of your (queer) audience, be inspired by queer culture, and then pretend your music is for no particular demographic – despite admitting hairless toys was inspired by ballroom and paris is burning – makes róisín a liar on top of admitting she’s a transphobe,” one wrote.

One to defend Murphy, though, was ex-Mumford & Sons banjo player Winston Marshall, who said she was “correct” and had “nothing to apologise for”.

Marshall faced an online backlash in March 2021 after tweeting praise for a book by the controversial US journalist Andy Ngo, titled Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan To Destroy Democracy. After taking an initial break from the group following the backlash, Marshall officially left Mumford & Sons in June 2021.

While many who stand against trans rights and puberty blockers have spoken in Murphy’s defence, many critics of her stance are also pointing to research from GLAAD which says that puberty blockers significantly decrease the risk of suicide in trans people, and they are endorsed by multiple medical organisations.

A paper by Philip Graham in the National Library of Medicine also adds that research shows “benefit from the interventions [of puberty blockers] for the majority and an absence of significant harm.

“The most recent critical review of the use of puberty blockers has concluded: ‘Although large long-term studies with diverse and multicultural populations have not been done, the evidence to date supports the finding of few serious adverse outcomes and several potential positive outcomes.’”

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