We-ell. This went in to the PCC today. 🙂
Please find below a complaint in respect of a piece published by the Daily Star, under the heading “Prisons: female guards may be forced to search male trannies” on 12 september 2010. This piece remains available online today (3 November 2010) at http://www.dailystar.co.uk/posts/view/153424/Prisons-Female-guards-may-be-forced-to-search-male-trannies/Prisons-Female-guards-may-be-forced-to-search-male-tranniesPrisons-Female-guards-may-be-forced-to-search-male-tranniesPrisons-Female-guards-may-be-forced-to-search-male-tranniesPrisons-Female-guards-may-be-forced-to-search-male-trannies .
The grounds for the complaint are under I(i) of the Editor’s Code, which stipulates that the press “must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures”.
There is also a question of whether the Star breached 16(i): “Payment or offers of payment for stories, pictures or information, which seek to exploit a particular crime or to glorify or glamorise crime in general, must not be made directly or via agents to convicted or confessed criminals or to their associates – who may include family, friends and colleagues.”
The piece contains the statement: “Under existing laws, anyone affected by the condition [gender dysphoria] can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate. Once this certificate is obtained, the person has the legal right to be treated as their desired gender in every respect.”
This statement is inaccurate, in the sense that it is both factually incorrect or, if taken literally, leads to a distorted view of the actual position.
It is literally correct, in the sense that one might assert that “anyone can ask their GP to be referred for cervical screening”. Of course, “anyone” can – but if that statement was taken, from context, to assume that “anyone” also included men, it would either be misleading – or need to be a piece specifically about the foolishness of the NHS guidelines.
However, it is clear from the preceding par, which states “the Government guidelines are in response to an increase in “gender dysphoria” – the condition where people believe they have been born into the wrong sex” that in this instance, the Star is NOT making a general comment but attempting to explain to the general public the system that operates in respect of individuals with gender dysphoria seeking a gender recognition certificate.
In that respect, its explanation is inaccurate and misleading – and distorts the picture for the general public. Under 1(1) of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, an applicant must have lived “in the other gender” or have already changed gender “under the law of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom”.
Apart from the fact that living in the other gender is not a decision to be taken lightly, involving major upheaval to personal life as well as some element of danger, this makes it clear that an application cannot be made by “anyone” with gender dysphoria.
The suggestion that this is the case therefore has the effect of both misleading and trivialising.
In addition to the living requirement, those seeking a grc must apply to the Gender Recognition Panel and meet any conditions that that panel may set for them.
A second inaccuracy is present in the par that states: “Prison bosses must also help transsexual lags live “in role” as their desired gender for a year before they are allowed to have surgery”.
Unless this is present in the guidelines that the Star has had sight of, it appears to be a conflation of two separate issues. Prison governors must allow transsexual prisoners to live in role. Period. That is required both by the Equalities Act 2010 and by a series of rulings from the European Courts, which have been upheld or incorporated into UK law via the Lords or, latterly, the Supreme Court.
Quite separate from this right is the requirement, based on international health gudielines, that individuals live in role for at least a year before they are allowed gender re-assignment surgery.
Taken literally, the par in question would suggest that prisoners must fix the date of their surgery – at which point, prison governors must allow them to live in role for a year previous. This is utterly ludicrous, since no surgeon would commit to an op UNLESS a person was already living in role – and had been for some length of time.
This may appear to be a minor inaccuracy – but again, by providing inaccurate information, it misleads and trivialises.
A third inaccuracy is present in the picture caption that states: “Female prison guards must search male transvestites”. That is simply wrong. The guidelines are in respect of transsexuals, some of whom may be categorised as transvestite, some not. Contrariwise, not all transvestites are transsexual. The picture used to illustrate this caption is misleading, in that it depicts someone clearly dressed in a manner unlikely to find favour with any gender recognition panel as demonstrating a genuine desire to live in role – and appears to depict an inmate of a “County Jail”. Not sure what that might be in the UK system.
In addition to the above is the question of whether any breach of 16(i) has been committed. Under the Gender Recognition Act 2004, s22, “it is an offence for a person who has acquired protected information in an official capacity to disclose the information to any other person”. This is further qualified: (2)“Protected information” means information which relates to a person who has made an application under section 1(1)”.
Prison guards as well as prison bosses – both cited in this article – will only have knowledge of whether an individual with a grc has genitals that do not match the grc gender by virtue of their position as officials. If the Star has obtained some of the quotes in this article directly from officials then it is arguably an offence under s22 – which is a criminal offence subject to a fine at or up to level 5.
The article talks of prison guards being angry and of unrest among female prison officers. Unless the Star is making it up – perish the thought! – someone must have spoken to prison officers in order to obtain this information. By disclosing this information, the guards are likely to have committed a criminal offence. If the Star offered any form of inducement – from monteary payment to buying drinks – it seems likely that 16(i) was breached.