Friday, 24 August 2012

Trans*, queer, disabled: pick one (1) only

kaberettPosted by kaberett

CONTENT WARNINGS: cissexism, misogyny, suicide

... or that's what This Is Cabaret seem to think, anyway.

At least according to a review in which they misgender me and assume that my participation in a song about LGBT+ youth suicide... means that it's a song about sexuality and disability.

Well, let me just tell you, it gets better.

First we sent them an e-mail with a factual correction regarding my gender:

From: Lashings of Ginger Beer Time <>
Subject: Factual correction for Pete Saunders' review of 'Alternative Sex Education'
Date: Wed, 8 Aug 2012 13:17:47 +0100

Dear This Is Cabaret team,

Thanks for posting a review of our show, 'Alternative Sex Education' ( -- the review itself is constructive and fair, and we found Pete's comments very useful.

However, we'd like to correct a factual error and a small matter of style -- the review refers to kaberett, one of our performers, as a 'girl' in the first paragraph of the piece. kaberett is in fact non-binary (a fact that's touched on briefly in the show): thus the correct terms are 'person', 'they' and 'their'. The review also refers to kaberett as 'in [a] wheelchair': per current guidelines on preferred language issued by the national Office for Disability Issues (, 'wheelchair user' is the correct term.

In summary, we'd like to request that the following change be made:

"girl in wheelchair playing a Dalek": Change to "person using a wheelchair playing a Dalek" or "wheelchair user playing a Dalek".

Again, we'd like to say 'thanks' for the review, and hope you're having a good Fringe.

All very best,
Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

They didn't reply, so we followed up:
From: Lashings of Ginger Beer Time <>
To:, C.J. Lazaretti <>
Subject: Factual correction for 'Lashings of Ginger Beer Time' Fringe review
Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2012 14:20:15 +0100

To whom it may concern,

On August the 7th you published an article entitled "Fringe Review: Alternative Sex Education" ( On Wednesday 8th August we wrote to you with a factual correction, copied below. [
not copied in this posting for reasons of redundancy! --ed]

As of Monday 13th August, you have neither responded to us nor corrected the misgendering of a performer. We trust this is an oversight, and hope the correction can now be made swiftly.

Misgendering trans* people in print can place them in serious danger. For further information, please see TransMediaWatch's excellent guidance for journalists etc:

We look forward to hearing from you,
Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

Today, they finally got back to us:
On Tuesday, 14 August 2012, Franco Milazzo wrote:

Thank you for your message. We have looked into the matter and found that the review in question is factually accurate in the assessment of the sex and physical disability of the performer in question, giving no cause for emendations.


Franco Milazzo

+44 (0) 7903 933521

So we sent them another reply:
From: Lashings of Ginger Beer Time <>
To: Franco Milazzo <>
Subject: Re: Factual correction for 'Lashings of Ginger Beer Time' Fringe review
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2012 14:37:02 +0100

Dear Franco,

Apologies, there seems to have been some confusion here - we had no problem with your "assessment" of kaberett's "physical disability", we just wanted to let you know how wheelchair users prefer to be described by the media. Obviously, your editorial policy is your own choice, and if you prefer to use more outdated terminology and potentially alienate readers, that is up to you.

However, we must take issue with your claim to have "assessed" kaberett's "sex" - please could you clarify what it is that you mean by this? Sex is a complex biological construct, and as far as we are aware kaberett has provided you with no medical records. And, as far as we can tell, kaberett's sex is not relevant to the review anyway, but rather, their gender is what you have misrepresented (by using "she", "her", etc in place of "they", "their", etc). Trans Media Watch provide extensive guidance at on how to correctly refer to trans* people.

Our original correction was made in good faith, as we know that many people in the media are not familiar with best practice in this area. We hope that you will now respond in similarly good faith by correcting your mistake; otherwise we will have no choice but to pass this correspondence on to Trans Media Watch.

Yours in hope,

Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

Have we had a further response? No, no we have not.

Personally? I've gone from being really upset to finding this HILARIOUS - at least in the short term. I can assure you that This Is Cabaret have neither physically examined me nor seen any documents which apply sex markers to me. (In point of fact, the Higher Education Statistics Authority has my gender listed as "Other". Poor show, TIC, poor show.) Further, the press pack from which TIC obtained the photo of me used in the article genders me correctly, and (I've checked) it takes about 30 seconds with the search engine of your choice to establish my preferred pronouns.

Of themselves, TIC have this to say:

Talented minds have strong opinions and we invite different perspectives on this traditional, yet constantly renovated art form. Expect controversy.
Milazzo, the editor-in-chief, profiles himself thus:

From his first experience of cabaret in a converted toilet off The Strand, Franco knew he was seeing a revolution that would not –- could not -– be televised. He created the web’s favourite cabaret recommendations column at and, when not gadding about town like a dark, swarthy Sicilian stereotype, he will be spreading the love about the UK’s kookiest and kinkiest entertainment scene.
Let's be clear: ThisIsCabaret and Franco Milazzo are aggressively defending misgendering a trans* performer, rather than change 10 characters in a review... of a show that highlights the issue of LGBT+ youth suicide.

I'm so glad they're keen on controversy.


  1. This is horrid :( I've just left a comment (as it appears that the author has not been made aware of this). I loved ASE in Oxford, keep being wonderful!

  2. Wow, that's seriously crappy. Like, I can see why the initial error might happen, from the point of view of people not being used to it and making assumptions (although, they clearly weren't paying proper attention to the show, in that case), but to be corrected and still decide that their perception of someone's gender is more accurate than that person's own knowledge of themselves... WTF?!

  3. Good grief, that's just rude (their reply, I mean, not kaberett's post!). Furthermore, the reviewer's comments on the acting and singing are ridiculously harsh, if the Edinburgh performances were anywhere near as good as the London one.

    Princess - was your comment visible straight after you posted it? Because it isn't now. I wonder if they deleted it for reasons of embarrassment...

    (P. S. Minor typographical point - the URL in your link to This Is Cabaret's main page is missing the "s" of "is".)

    1. Good catch! Thank you. Have edited it :-)

      (Apologies to all for not doing more useful responses. It is past my bedtime. <3)

  4. This is shocking. I am so glad you posted the correspondence.

    I don't know if you noticed but on the same day the editor replied to your email, the reviewer posted an astoundingly transphobic review of Carnival Queens full of misgendering, really inappropriate terms for performers, and misinformation (TW cissexism and ableism: It looks like the author took your (very kindly worded) nudge in the direction of Trans Media Watch to mine their 'words to avoid' glossary for every offensive term with which they could possibly refer to the trans* performers.

    Despite giving the performance an awful review, constantly Othering the performers, and comparing the night to a "freak show" the author thinks it: "help(s) promote transgender acceptance to a broader spectrum of the population, beyond the usual Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre and comedy crowds, in a way the more overtly political shows could only dream of." Am I just being paranoid here or is this a deliberate jibe at you guys? Either way, I think it's clear that the very damaging transphobic attitudes displayed by This Is Cabaret (and from the reviewer Pete Saunders in particulr) are not isolated.

    1. Thanks Anon! Personally, I'm not going to read the 'Carnival Queens' review right now because it's been a long day and my tolerance for TiC-bullshit is fairly low, but it's both upsetting and suspicion-confirming to know that the reviewer/site is failing at using respectful language for trans* people across the board.

      OTOH, other people's mileage may vary but personally I just don't have it in me to care if Saunders is making jibes at Lashings in his reviews of other shows. He's entitled to his opinions about the performance... and that song was really, really not about him, after all.

  5. Of course! You are not missing anything constructive by not viewing it - I was just posting it here because it struck me as sneaky. I have so much respect for you all calling them out on this as well as for your work in general ^_^ Fingers crossed that they will be more respectful of performers identities and safety in future!

    (Same Anon)

    1. Heh, we can but hope... thanks for passing the review on: I'll see if I can stomach reading it tomorrow. :-)