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Labour Women’s Declaration response to IPSO Consultation

Closing date 10 March 2023

https://www.ipso.co.uk/what-we-do/consultations/public-consultation-on-guidance-on-reporting-of-sex-and-gender-identity/

 LWD answers in bold italic

  1. Do you agree or disagree that: The guidance has struck the right balance between upholding the principle of freedom of expression with the ability to provide redress for people who believe they have been treated unfairly. *

Strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree

1b. Do you have any other comments about how the draft guidance strikes this balance?

It is difficult to understand what is meant here by ‘balance’. Any accurate reporting of a trans-identified individual’s sex is regarded as ‘unfair’ treatment by those who hold to gender identity ideology, but accurate identification of sex, particularly in cases of sexual and other violence is essential.  It is unreasonable to contribute to inaccurate perceptions of violence by women; it is not irrelevant to make clear that a perpetrator of violence is biologically male, even if it may be perceived as ‘pejorative’ and lead to a complaint (page 11).  The notion that the way a defendant is described in court, including the name and pronouns used by court officials and witnesses (p10), should determine how the individual is reported makes it impossible for those who were not in court to observe proceedings to be clear about the individual’s sex unless it is accurately reported; surely the purpose of press reporting is to provide clear and accurate information to readers/viewers/listeners who were not present?

 

  1. Do you agree or disagree that: The guidance accurately summarises the application of Editors’ Code to the reporting of sex and gender identity. *

Strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree

2b. Do you have any other comments on the application of the Editors’ Code in this guidance?

A key point in the Editors’ Code concerns accuracy, including such matters as headlines not supported by the text.  This would suggest that referring to a ‘woman’ in a headline, when it seems from allusions in the text (e.g. ‘the crimes were committed when she was a man called X’) that it is in fact a trans-identified man who is being referenced, would go against the Code.  The section headed ‘Intrusion’ (i.e. relating to Clause 2 (Privacy)) refers to intrusion ‘into the individual’s sex or gender identity’  and then references ‘the public interest’, but fails to point up there is a major issue of specifically women’s interest in ensuring that an individual’s sex is clear when referring to crimes of violence and sexual abuse in particular.  It is abusive towards women to report a male person as a woman, particularly when a woman is required to provide testimony in a court case, or when men being violent are said to be women and it is then believed that women are becoming more violent.[1]

 

  1. Do you agree or disagree that: The guidance is well-structured to support journalists in their reporting and editorial work. *

Strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree

3b. Do you have any other comments on how the draft guidance is structured?

It makes sense to correlate the key areas with the Editors’ Code, but that the part relating to Clause 2 ‘Privacy’ is headed ‘Intrusion’ and does not refer to Clause 2 is somewhat odd. Similarly, the ‘About This Guidance’ section states that it will discuss Clause 6 (Children) but then does not head the relevant section with the Clause number is confusing. The failure to explicitly reference women in general, and lesbians in particular, suggests a lack of understanding of the specific issues for those groups. Within the Children section, there is no mention whatsoever of safeguarding, an area with highly developed expertise.  If this body of knowledge is not consulted, it means that full understanding of proper protection of children is not achieved.

 

  1. Do you agree or disagree that: The guidance is accessible and usable for all audiences. *

Strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree

4b. Do you any other comments about the accessibility of this guidance?

Given the problems with language, as we have raised under 3b and 5b, this is not accessible for, or usable by, those who are not in agreement with the ideology which is embedded in the way this document is presented.

 

  1. Do you agree or disagree that: The language used in this guidance is clear and fair. *

Strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree

5b. Do you have any other comments about the language used in this guidance?

The many undefined terms make much of it anything but clear.  What is meant in this guidance by ‘trans’ or ‘transgender’?  So many different notions now seem to be assumed to come under this definition.  What is meant by ‘gender diverse’?  Does this merely refer to those who don’t conform to stereotypes?  What is meant by ‘transphobia’ or ‘transphobic’?  It is deeply concerning that terms that appear to be central to this guidance are entirely undefined.  It is uncertain, also, what is intended by reference to ‘gender identity’, given that this appears to be an entirely subjective claim by individuals – so the objective observation of journalist, victim, witness or anyone else can, apparently, be entirely ignored in some contexts, over-ridden by an individual’s self-declared ‘identity’ which appears to cover a huge range of possibilities if one looks at e.g. the identities regarded by Stonewall as falling under the ‘trans umbrella’[2].  It is certainly not ‘fair’, given its bias and the omission of explicit or even potential reference to women and lesbians.

 

The use of these terms without definition suggests a worryingly ideological approach to the issue.  Similarly, the use of ‘LGBT+’ (p.6) indicates an acceptance of that ideology since those who do not accept the notion of gender identity superseding sex will not conflate LGB with the various ‘identities’ covered by T+.

 

[1] https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6618531/eicester-square-underground-station-man-attacked-women-gang-video/

[2] https://www.stonewall.org.uk/what-does-trans-mean

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