Remembering Magdalen Berns, one year on
A year ago today, on hearing of Magdalen’s death, I wrote and posted a personal tribute to her. Soon afterwards, I was honoured to be invited to her funeral by her mother, Deborah Lavin who, sadly, was to survive Magdalen – the youngest of her three children – by just nine months.
At Magdalen’s funeral, I met some of those close to her and heard so much more about her than she’d ever revealed by either her online persona or her presence at the occasional meeting and in the pub afterwards. On this first anniversary of her death, I’d like to share some more reflections of her.
This was said by Jean Molloy, a close friend of Magdalen and her family. Everyone who has watched Magdalen’s videos will – if they are honest – recognise the truth in Jean’s words. But there was something more to Magdalen than her fairness and honesty, more than her intelligence and ability to cut through the claptrap. She had a unique and compelling style. She was chilled, irreverent and funny. Many of her videos are characterised by close-up in-your-face direct engagement with her target, whose rambling inanities are relieved by Magdalen’s factual assertions and deadpan one-liners. For those of us in agreement with her, her videos were highly entertaining. For her detractors, not so much.
But, as I learned from Jean and others who were close to her, there were sides to Magdalen that many of us didn’t know about. Her passion for disability rights and access came as a complete revelation to me. So was the fact that she had once been offered a job at Google but didn’t like their ethos and wanted to focus on her dream of setting up a non-profit open-source software company.
She put her whole heart into everything she did and she did a great deal. She was as committed to boxing, Taekwondo, running and getting her motorcycle licence as she was to smoking and contesting her parking fines!
Her kindness to children was borne of natural empathy with them. She was on their side in life. As for her own childhood, it will come as no surprise that Magdalen was yet another girl who preferred “boys’ stuff”, a girl who prayed to God to turn her into a boy and who was delighted when she was mistaken for one. Yet another girl who, if she’d been growing up in the society we have now, may well have been encouraged to reject her body and go through the process of medical ‘transition’ with all that would entail. And this, I am told, was a large part of the driving force behind her opposition to transgender ideology.
Having watched all of the videos on her channel again over the past few weeks, I would add that never does she wish ill on any of those whose arguments she demolishes. Although she is occasionally abusive to individuals, not once does she express hatred for trans people in general or promote, excuse or celebrate violence and death – in contrast to the trans activists, who weren’t content to celebrate her death but who maliciously continue to try to defame her, as I describe out in my previous blog post.
The go-to comment for those desperate to portray Magdalen as a hater and a bigot is her intemperate tweet calling trans people ‘blackface actors’. While I’ve seen this screenshot tweeted numerous times by Magdalen’s critics, I have yet to see any of them explain why they disagree with the comparison, nor show any understanding of why it – and the rest of the content of that tweet – resonates with many of us.
To anyone with their heart and mind intact, Magdalen comes across as a sharp and funny young woman who said what she believed and was able to explain why she believed what she did without ‘bigoteering’. That’s a word I’ve just learned from the awesome new documentary by The State Media YouTube channel called Gender Ideology, which is dedicated to Magdalen’s memory. It means calling people bigots to close them down and avoid having to engage with their arguments. A bigot is the very opposite of what Magdalen was. That’s why she’ll live on in hearts and minds, while her detractors – the real bigots – continue to stew in their own poison.
Today some of us will gather at Speakers’ Corner at 2 pm today to mark the anniversary of her death, which coincides with the three year anniversary of the assault on me at that same spot. I hope to see some of you there. It will be live-streamed on Kellie-Jay Keen’s YouTube channel. In the meantime, here are a few reminders of Magdalen being Magdalen. Naturally, she uses strong language from the outset.
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