UCLan Professor pens brazenly transphobic guidance for journalists & media

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Once again the British media class, via UCLan’s attempt to create a style guide, has sought to enact unneccessary cruelties upon transgender people. All on the off chance that some of us may be sex offenders

The guidance titled “He or She: Reporting course case of trans-identified defendants in the UK” was written by Dr Amy Binns and Sophie Arnold. It was published to the official University of Central Lancashire website on Monday 27th June 2022.

The keen-eyed amongst you may have already noticed the use of anti-trans dogwhistles such as “trans-identified” in the headline, these occur through out the piece. This term was coined by and is exclusively used by anti-trans activists as a means of denying trans people our agency. No longer are we simply just transgender but rather people who just say we’re transgender, we are transgender-identified!

Ironic then that the piece later argues that publications should not refer to trans women as women in headlines, for e.g “woman wins lottery”, because it could be viewed as agreeing with trans inclusive narratives. The piece argues that this is an opinion, not a fact, and so should not be included.

Notably the piece fails to address that the idea that trans women aren’t women must therefore also be an opinion and not included – indeed, we must apply this to all people and refer to them exclusively in a gender neutral sense!

In fairness to Binns and Arnold they do attempt to restrain themselves by restricting these views to reporting on court cases. Though that really doesn’t make it any better and I’d argue makes it worse. Given the ongoing moral panic against transgender people which many people attribute – in part – to the media deliberately doing things like focusing their reporting on trans women sex offenders.

I am by no means an academic, I am of average intelligence and I did okay in education, but even I can see the glaring issues with the ‘study’ used to justify the report. First, it looks exclusively at 138 reports from ‘established media organisations’ between 2020 and the first two months of 2022. Again, during the peak of the current moral panic which many trans people have pointed out is being fuelled by the media. Trans Media Watches’ jane fae has even noted that sites like the Daily Mail simply do not include positive trans stories in their “transgender” category.

Next the study says that it only includes trans women or to use the phrase from the study; “males who claimed to identify as the opposite gender or had taken a female name” because they couldn’t find any reports court cases involving transgender men. This is not true, Freddie McConnell has repeatedly taken the UK to court and that has definitely been reported on in the time frame specified.

His story is the first thing that comes up when you search “transgender man court case”. So perhaps using obfuscated terminology like “females who claimed to identify as the opposite gender or had taken a male name” isn’t particularly search engine friendly after all.

The study then says it invited ‘stakeholder groups’ to take part however only three responded; For Women Scotland, Women’s Rights Network and Fair Play For Women. Three known anti-trans groups.

Its at this point I would have personally pushed harder to get at least three trans inclusive groups involved or scrapped the project entirely knowing that the data provided would not pass any kind of peer review. Its essentially a blog post with a bibliography. But instead they actually published it? Worse; they actually used the clearly bias and brazenly bigoted views of anti-trans groups to issue guidance which they then took to twitter to further push to the transphobic fanbase via the tagging in of known anti-trans agitators.

If I had published something like this I would be embarrassed.

Instead the study continues and concludes all sorts of awful nonsensical stuff. Such as that a journalist can’t really prove whether someone is truly transgender or not so its important that they make it clear that such an identity is merely claimed by the individual. Instead of “a trans woman stole some pick n mix” the phrase should be “a male claiming to be transgender has stolen some pick n mix”. Yet again it fails to address that a cisgender identity also cannot be proven and therefore must also be phrased in the same way.

I would go on and dissect more of this but its really all just the same. A complete disregard for transgender lives and an attempt to make transphobia easier to practice in the media for bigots. The point isn’t fairness, equality, accuracy or balance. Its simply to create a double standard wherein the actual identity of a transgender person becomes part of the story – something that is literally never on the table when cisgender people commit crimes.

UCLan have a lot to answer for with having allowed this to be published via them with their name attached to it. I expect the academic trans folk and trans allies are already mobilising on it and we will of course bring you any further updates regarding this study and report by a cisgender identified individual who claims to be a woman and whose birth name is yet to be proven; Dr Amy Binns.

 

Gemma Stone
Gemma Stone is a transgender writer who has been covering the rise of transphobic hate campaigning in the UK. She has written hundreds of articles dissecting aspects of transphobia including debunking blatant disinformation. She is very tired and trying her best, and hopefully having a positive impact on such a beautiful community.

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