The journalist and presenter hadn’t been informed by festival organisers she would be sharing a stage with Sarah Ditum
Transgender rights activist and journalist Paris Lees has pulled out of her Wilderness festival appearance after discovering she was on a panel with an “abusive transphobe”.
Lees was due to appear at the event’s debate on queer British art and identity. The official Wilderness website says participants in the talk will “discuss the diverse connections between sexuality, gender identity and art to uncover a past which is richer and stranger than you might think.”
However, Lees was unaware the panel was intended to include writer Sarah Ditum. On her Twitter page, Lees said she had since pulled out because “[Wilderness] want me to debate what being a ‘real’ woman is with Sarah Ditum and my time on earth is finite.”
She added that she would never have agreed to take part if she had known of Ditum’s involvement, before posting images of the writer arguing that sending trans individuals who identify as female to women’s prisons instead of men’s is dangerous, and comments about Lees in relation to Pete Burns.
“Ditum doesn’t bother me but poor show from @WildernessHQ expecting a trans woman to share a stage with an abusive transphobe without warning,” Lees added. She then asked the festival to donate her £400 fee to the organisation Mermaids, who provide support for gender diverse and transgender children and teenagers, and their families.
Ditum has since responded to Lees comments saying she had already pulled out of the event. “Not to piss on anyone’s drama chips but 1. I cancelled for personal reasons weeks ago, 2. not the topic I agreed,” she wrote. Ditum is no longer listed on the event page.
Festival organisers have yet to respond to Lees’ withdrawal from the debate. NME has contacted the festival for comment.