Fighting for freedom of expression in the arts

by Louise Distras

Fighting for freedom of expression in the arts

by Louise Distras
14
days to go
£30,805
pledged of £35,000 stretch target from 1030 pledges
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: May 2, 2024

I won!

One year ago today I first spoke out on the debate around ‘trans rights’ and the importance of protecting women's sex-based rights and single sex spaces because being a woman, and the…

Read more

My name is Louise Distras.  I’m a musician.  But in 2023 my career and my life was turned upside down after I was accused of being transphobic and subjected to a sustained campaign of harassment, stalking and malicious communications. Now I need to raise £30,000 for the legal expertise to fight a trial in April.

Before the Covid lockdowns I was an internationally touring musician – I performed all over the UK, America, Canada, Europe and Scandinavia. I toured with The Damned, Stiff Little Fingers, Buzzocks and performed at Glastonbury Festival. I released two albums 'Dreams from the Factory Floor' and 'Beauty After Bruises' and Kerrang! The UK's biggest rock music weekly named me as a ‘Star of 2017’

But in May 2023 I began to notice radio stations had stopped playing my music and venues had stopped booking me. I suspected this was because of the rumours that were circulating online claiming I’m transphobic. To deal with this and stay in touch with my fan base I opened a Bandcamp page, which hosted my discography of 2 albums, 1 EP and various singles.  This went really well – I made sales, rebuilt my profile and built a 20,000 strong fan base on X (formerly Twitter). I was glad to be making music again.  I was truly independent, and wrote a new album of 12 tracks which I want to record in 2024.

Then on 28th October 2023 without notice, Bandcamp closed my artist page. My discography disappeared along with my income already held on the platform.  I contacted Bandcamp to find out what had happened but I’ve still had no response. Freedom in the Arts also wrote to Bandcamp and raised my case online with the UK Culture Secretary, Lucy Frazer.

I believe I am the victim of an online harassment campaign.  It has led to reviewers updating good write ups of 'Beauty after Bruises' to bad, and my booking agent withdrawing his support for me and me being arrested by West Yorkshire Police and released without charge in December 2023. Bandcamp closing my page means it is now almost impossible to reach the international audience I once did and earn enough income to pay my bills.

Why is this happening to me?  I ask myself this question every day!  Put simply I don’t believe people can change sex.  I’m vocal about that - being a woman, and the experiences I’ve had because I’m a woman, are central to my music and my life.  Believing that people can’t change sex is a completely legal view, thanks to the Forstater ruling, and most people agree with me.

What can I do about the harassment campaign?  As an independent, freelance musician it’s very difficult to challenge ‘rumours’. I don’t have recourse to a trade union or litigation as I would as an employee, and speaking my mind publicly is what making music is all about. International platforms like Bandcamp operate outside British legal control, making it difficult to challenge them if they decide to close down an income stream for no stated reason.

To speak out against harassment and cancellation I went public about what is happening to me and my career.  Along with 4 other women in the arts my story was covered in a feature in the Daily Mail, and I talked to journalist Andrew Doyle on his TV show, Free Speech Nation.

Whilst all of this has been going on I have had to start legal proceedings. In December Denise Fahmy, co-founder of Freedom In the Arts, who successfully claimed at an employment tribunal in June 2023 that she had been harassed due to her gender critical views, transferred the remaining balance on her Crowd Justice campaign to this campaign.  

This meant I was able to  instruct Rosalind Fitzgerald of Rayden Solicitors. The case is complex and confidential and unfortunately I’m unable to disclose any details.  

I have to be honest, as it stands I have been legally advised that the case is unlikely to be able to be reported in the future, and will not make headlines or set legal precedents in the way the Forstater case did, because the nature of the proceedings are confidential, and are brought by people personally connected to me in a “family law” case.  

However, what I can say is that the trial in April will engage arguments about my personal rights to exercise free speech and express personal opinions in my musical and artistic work and although I cannot provide evidence, I firmly believe that I would not be facing this case and the prospect of needing tens of thousands of pounds for my defence if it were not for the legally held views that I express online, that a person cannot change sex.    

I realise it’s difficult for people to make donations without more detail about the case, but if I share details that would seriously jeopardise proceedings.  

What I can say is that although in the past12 months I’ve found myself in a very frightening situation, I have refused to give in to bullying.  My t-shirts are available here, my music is available here and I am determined to keep making the music I want to make and that people want to hear.

Thank you for all your messages of support this year, and if you can make a contribution, thanks so much for your generosity.

Links:

Twitter
Instagram
Facebook
Official Website

Update 3

Louise Distras

May 2, 2024

I won!

One year ago today I first spoke out on the debate around ‘trans rights’ and the importance of protecting women's sex-based rights and single sex spaces because being a woman, and the experiences I’ve had because I’m a woman, are central to my life and my music.

Since speaking out publicly, I've been subjected to a sustained campaign of stalking, harassment, online abuse, legal abuse, defamation, de-platforming and was fired by my booking agent which meant I lost my livelihood as a musician. Some of this abuse has come from people personally connected to me who disagree with my ‘gender critical’ views.

I'm buzzing to say this legal case has now been concluded with no allegations being upheld by the police or the courts, and no findings of wrongdoing have been made against me. I won!

Thankyou for having my back every step of the way and supporting my legal costs the best you can because you believe in me, the truth and reality. Thankyou Freedom in the Arts for kickstarting my fightback. Thankyou Rayden's solicitors for the brilliant lawyer-ing which steered the ship, and thankyou to my feminist rockstar barrister Lucy Masoud at Woman's Place for representing me at trial.

You've all helped me to take back my voice, my music and freedoms. I could not have done this without you and I'm grateful forever.

The only thing left to do now is go to the pub. Cheers!

Louise
XXX

Update 2

Louise Distras

Jan. 31, 2024

Thankyou for your support! Here's an update

Ayup everyone,

Thank you for your continued support and interest in my case. Here's a quick update on what has happened since I was arrested on 16th December 2023:

Denise Fahmy, co-founder of Freedom In the Arts, who successfully claimed at an employment tribunal in June 2023 that she had been harassed due to her gender critical views, transferred the remaining balance on her Crowd Justice campaign to this campaign. Thanks to Denise and her army of supporters I was able to pick myself up and start fighting back. In December 2023 I instructed Rosalind Fitzgerald of Rayden Solicitors and attended a private court hearing. Sadly my case was not resolved and has been listed for a trial in April 2024.

Thankyou for all of your beautiful comments on my Crowdjustice page and on social media. I'm absolutely floored by your support, shares and donations. So far you've raised more than £14k and have funded just over 40% of my legal costs, thankyou so much!

Because of your generosity you've given me the opportunity to seek further legal expertise from barrister, former firefighter and co-director of Woman's Place, Lucy Masoud. I've now filed my documents to the court and await my trial in April.

Frustratingly, I've been legally advised not to speak about my case publicly which makes it difficult to promote my campaign and raise funds for my defence. So I'm counting on you all to help me spread the word.

"The process is the punishment" and can so often have an emboldening effect on perpetrators and allow them to abuse the systems which are intended to protect women, but I refuse to give in to this bullying. I'm determined to fight and continue defending my hard won rights as a woman, and keep making the music I want to make. My aim is to honour your support by winning my case so I can show that no woman should ever be hounded for having "gender critical" views and expressing them publicly.

With your continued support I can feel assured that I can take this case all the way to the final hearing in April, where I will engage arguments about my personal rights to exercise free speech and express personal opinions in my musical and artistic work.

Thanks again for your support and for taking the time to read about my case, I will keep you updated on any further developments. In the meantime please share my case with others who may wish to support me.

Lorra love from me,

Louise 

Update 1

Louise Distras

Jan. 10, 2024

All I Said Was: Trans Women Aren't Women - Louise Distras | heretics.

I always thought punk singer's were supposed to rage against the machine, but when I spoke out and refused to say trans women are women, the world came tumbling down around me. This is my story. Thanks to Andrew Gold for interviewing me.

    There are no public comments on this case page.