Skip to content

John Lichfield and transgender people

John Lichfield is a freelance writer based in France. He is the former Paris correspondent for The Independent.

2021 UnHerd piece

Lichfield wrote in anti-transgender publication UnHerd about a cartoon by Xavier Gorce that appeared in Le Monde. Gorce showed a small penguin asking a bigger penguin: “If I was to be abused by the adopted half-brother of the partner of my transgender father who is now my mother, would that be incest?” Many people felt the cartoon was in poor taste, and Le Monde apologized while leaving it up.

Lichfield spends his article making a tendentious connection between transgender people and Islamist terrorists who shot up the offices of Charlie Hebdo over anti-Muslim cartoons.

Fluidity of gender is one thing. Fluidity of commitment to press freedom on the part of a great newspaper like Le Monde is another. If it’s permissible in the name of free speech to offend Muslims (even though that was not the intention of the Charlie cartoons) is it not permissible to offend transgender people (even though that was not Gore’s intention)? Is incest — long a taboo subject in France, as elsewhere — completely off-limits for satire or humour?


Lichfield, John (January 22, 2021). French cartoonists are in trouble again. UnHerd


Twitter (

LinkedIn (

The Independent (

UnHerd (