Misgendering, or miscarriage of justice?
Against the lowering storm clouds of Brexit, a squall involving the “misgendering” of a trans girl, now trans woman, could be dismissed as a storm in a British teacup. But it remains to be seen whether a police investigation into the matter is a sign of things to come.
Early this week Caroline Farrow, a freelance journalist and mother of five, tweeted that she had been summoned to attend a police interview “under caution for misgendering” Jackie Green, the adult child of transgender rights campaigner, Susie Green.
Mrs Green had laid a complaint against Mrs Farrow about a series of Twitter posts the latter made after they were both guests on ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme last October. The topic under discussion was a Girl Guides policy of not telling parents if a transgender child joins their daughter’s group.
Green yesterday told media she is withdrawing her complaint, mainly, it appears, to dampen down the publicity Farrow’s potential crime has garnered, and to be able to keep commenting herself. The charity she heads, Mermaids, received £500,000 from the government’s national lottery fund last December.
It also emerged yesterday that women’s rights campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull is under investigation by a different police force “after being accused of committing a hate crime by Susie Green” relating to Jackie Green’s gender. (‘Police question woman over “transphobic” posts’, Telegraph, March 21, 2019).
Jackie Green, who is something of a celebrity in the UK, was born male and from the age of 4, says Susie Green, wanted to be female. After hormone treatment in the United States to block puberty, Jackie underwent “penis inversion” surgery in Thailand at the age of 16, the youngest person to have undergone such a procedure. (The age of consent has since been raised in Thailand to 18.)
In her tweets on October 4 last year (which were automatically removed after two weeks) Farrow said of Green: “What she did to her own son is illegal. She mutilated him by having him castrated and rendered sterile while he was still a child.” She added that this amounted to child abuse.
Green says it was these accusations as well as the misgendering that deeply upset her.
Do the police really have time for this?
In tweets earlier this week Farrow said: “I have pointed out to police that I am a Catholic journalist/commentator and it is my religious belief that a person cannot change sex.” She added that she would “happily do jail time” for her “right to say that people cannot change sex”.
In view of the current knife crime crisis and shortage of police officers, it is indeed astonishing that police forces should find the time to investigate someone for “misgendering” – which is not even a crime, as a comment in The Telegraph has pointed out. (‘Police got it wrong’, March 20, 2019).
Moreover, although expressing her Catholic beliefs, Farrow was also expressing scientific fact, since it is impossible to change sex, and people cannot be “born into the wrong body”. It is Green and her fellow campaigners who are subscribing to fantastical beliefs, not Farrow.
But it seems now that governments are happy to legislate based on feelings, not facts, and the present administration has indicated that it will allow individuals to self-identify as the opposite sex with no medical involvement, and schools are busily indoctrinating children into the tenets of the LGBTQ+ movement via programmes like “No Outsiders”. (‘Four more Birmingham schools in LGBT ban’, March 20, 2019).
Such initiatives seek to include everyone except parents, and perhaps the next step will be to destroy all scientific textbooks and ban all discussion of scientific fact. Already attempts are being made to censor academic studies indicating that the flawless picture of happiness presented by the transgender campaign has been airbrushed to conceal the ugly reality – vulnerable young people are falling prey to suggestions that they may be “trans” when actually they are suffering from psychological confusion compounded by teenage anxiety.
Young people are being actively encouraged to opt for life-long, life-changing ‘treatments’ that will do nothing to address their psychological problems but will only worsen them, sometimes leading to suicide (‘Trans lobby fails to block gender dysphoria study’, Telegraph, March 20, 2019).
It is right, as the Telegraph writer says, that “if the alleged crime is expressing hostility to someone on the grounds of the sexuality under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, then this also applies to religion.” But sadly, it is unlikely that police will also investigate the consequent online attacks on Mrs Farrow. Such laws were indeed introduced to protect minority groups from abuse and "are being used to shut down perfectly legitimate opinion,” as in ‘the “gay cake” case in Northern Ireland. (‘Police got it wrong’, March 20, 2019).
However, the case of Asher’s Bakery went further than the attempted censorship of Mrs Farrow; it was a case of compelled speech, in which the complainant tried to force the bakers to affirm same-sex marriage - something with which they disagreed on religious grounds. The case failed, but despite the outbreak of common sense it seems public institutions are still falling over themselves not to offend sexual minorities, consequently we may expect more persecution of individuals for ‘misgendering’.
This is despite the fact that ‘[n]early half of investigations into hate crimes in some parts of the country are being closed without police identifying a suspect’, and 'often', as one ‘senior officer’ admitted, ’with “‘no witnesses and scarce evidence”’ (‘Lack of evidence blamed for hate crime inquiry failures’, Telegraph, March 20, 2019).
Allegedly, such police operations are aimed at protecting vulnerable individuals, but at a time when vulnerable individuals are being stabbed to death, it looks more like a political project aimed at silencing critics of ‘trans’ ideology. Now, burglaries are seldom investigated, but all that is needed for police to swing into action is a complaint from a trans individual or supporter -- who need not fear being charged with wasting police time when the case is closed for lack of corroborating evidence.
And this is not the only area where free speech is under threat: two local Councils have introduced exclusion zones around abortion clinics, aimed at silencing pro-life vigils – even when engaging in silent prayer. The vigils have been accused of harassing abortion clinic staff and women seeking abortions, but like the mythical “trans hate crimes”, there is no corroborating evidence. This suggests that if a political campaign is sufficiently vocal and aggressive, their feelings will prevail over objective facts and the right to free expression.
Democracy has become like a weak muscle, seldom flexed; but as with muscles, it is a case of “use it or lose it”. If the silent majority allows itself to be really silenced, one morning they will wake up gagged by a police state, where dissidents are terrorised and perhaps even incarcerated – all in the name of tolerance, the eradication of hatred and the defence of human rights.
Ann Farmer lives in the UK. She is the author of By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Campaign (CUAP, 2008); The Language of Life: Christians Facing the Abortion Challenge (St Pauls, 1995), and Prophets & Priests: the Hidden Face of the Birth Control Movement (St Austin Press, 2002).
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