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Róisín Murphy’s statement about her trans comments is disappointing

Róisín Murphy’s statement about her trans comments is disappointing


Last week, a screenshot of a comment that singer Róisín Murphy made with her private Facebook profile on a post was made public, with many fans expressing disappointment at the Arklow disco artist’s words about puberty blockers, big Pharma, terfs and “little mixed up kids”.

While the comment was presented out-of-context with the rest of the conversation, it alarmed many of her fans and supporters many of who fit in the bracket of LGBTQIA+, specifically the trans community who she is directly talking about.

It read to many as the singer showing a lack of education around the topic, and as repeating anti-trans talking points.

Róisín Murphy is a performer who benefits and partly, makes a living in the safe spaces and communities which welcome LGBTQIA+, and that is why there was a need for clarification about what she believes, which leads us to her response.

Today’s Response

Today, Róisín responded with a screenshotted text apology that read…

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’ve had a personal Facebook account for years. The morning I made these comments I was scrolling and I brought up a specific issue that was only broadly related to the original post. It was something that had been on my mind. I knew my friends were informed about the topic. 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. The music I make is the core of everything I do and it’s ever-evolving, freewheeling and unpredictable. 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. I have always been so proud of my audience and understood the privilege of performing
for you, all through the years.

I am so sorry my comments have been directly hurtful to many of you. You must have felt a huge shock, blindsided by this so abruptly. I understand fixed views are not helpful but I really hope people can understand my concern was out of love for all of us.

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. Though I completely understand that for others activism is their true calling, and is necessary and legitimate in a democracy. My true calling is music and music will never exclude any of us, I believe it will always be one of the greatest tools we can use to create a culture of tolerance. Thank you for taking the trouble to read this.

I’m Gone Fishing.
Sincerely, Róisín

It’s a disappointing statement for many reasons. Firstly, it does little to make clear the intent of the initial words that felt harmful to her fans reading it.

Nothing you say or do on any social media platform is truly private.

She acknowledges the hurt the comments causes but also talks of “fixed views”, as if it’s not possible for her to change the views she expressed that caused this.

If Róisín wants to “step out of line”, as she puts it, and express those views if she holds them, despite knowing no matter how unhelpful they are to the people it affects and who have engaged with her work, that’s her choice.

But it’s also fine for fans of hers to be disappointed and not feel comfortable with the dichotomy of Róisín Murphy being a celebrated disco artist playing to a large LGBTQIA+ following, while holding misguided views which are potentially harmful to the same people. Many, understandably are not.

There are plenty of people on the internet who have a problem with trans people, puberty blockers and topics of this nature but as a prominent public artist in the LGBTQIA+ space, Róisín Murphy should make clear what she believes rather than talk about “fixed views” and vaguely saying her intent was “out of concern for all of us” but instead she has washed her hands of talking about it.

I am so sorry my comments have been directly hurtful to many of you. You must have felt a huge shock, blindsided by this so abruptly. I understand fixed views are not helpful but I really hope people can understand my concern was out of love for all of us.

Róisín doesn’t make her stance clear on trans rights, which is her prerogative, but it unfortunately leaves her words and intent in a grey area in public that many have deemed transphobic, that we all individually have to decide if we are OK with, in terms of supporting her art or not.

It is a cop-out to say that talking about trans issues in a public or private conversation is “campaigning”.

Almost all of us aren’t equipped for these kinds of conversations at first, we learn and grow, and try to understand.

A discussion is not campaigning or activism. Ideally talking about something is trying to understand it, and ideally, in this case, it means, showing support and kindness to the personal decisions that trans youth make about their own lives, without resorting to inflammatory rhetoric or conspiracy language.

See Also

It’s also disingenuous for Murphy to talk about the inclusive power of music while bowing out of a conversation that that has made her fans feel disappointed in her views.

As we’ve seen with these kinds of things, when someone is using a public platform, whether the account is private or not immediately obvious, it can be seen by others and therefore can become a public domain discussion that a person may not be ready for.

At the same time, if you take some time to respond as is the case here, it’s best not to just talk around it in a statement, and then put up your hands and walk away. That’s not taking responsibility.

Since this initial comment was aired publicly, many wondered what Róisín Murphy actually thought, but instead while there’s vague engagement with the issues she raised, she mostly addresses the reaction to others.

Sure, it’s harder to learn when people seem angry at you or disappointed, and I believe the first part of being criticised often involves defensiveness, which is partly why Murphy says she has never made music cynically targeted at a demographic.

While that sentiment may be part of some users’ reaction last week, it is also reactionary noise that should be ignored.

That’s not the actual issue people have expressed a problem with.

Today’s statement hides behind the complexity of the issue, while providing little clarity.

We live in a world where online discourse is reactive, binary and lacks nuance. Despite what X or Twitter would have you believe, this isn’t about “cancelling” an artist, silencing someone, or cancel culture.

Talking in broadsides like that is too overwhelming to be a single collective decision that rings true in the real world.

Murphy’s new album Hit Parade is due to be released on September 8th on Ninja Tune, and some people will be happy to separate the art from the artist but many now, will not.

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