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Current Page: World | Tuesday, September 03, 2019
UK mom facing criminal charges for 'misgendering' trans activist on Twitter

UK mom facing criminal charges for 'misgendering' trans activist on Twitter

People protest U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, in Times Square, in New York City, New York, U.S., July 26, 2017. | (Photo: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

A mother who was arrested last year on criminal charges of "misgendering" a transgender activist on social media has been formally charged by British authorities. 

The Daily Mail reports that the Crown Prosecution Service has authorized formal charges against 38-year-old Kate Scottow, months after she was arrested for calling a trans-identified activist a “man” on Twitter. 

A CPS spokesperson confirmed that charges were authorized on Aug. 21 "after reviewing a file of evidence from Hertfordshire Police relating to social media posts."

According to the Mail Online, Scottow faces charges of malicious communications over social media comments about transgender lawyer Stephanie Hayden (born Anthony Halliday). 

The CPS said Scottow has been charged for “persistent” messages that caused “annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety” to another person between September 2018 and May 2019. 

In 2003, the U.K. outlawed online communications that may cause “annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another.” 

As reported by The Sunday Times in 2017, about 3,300 people were detained in 2016 for what they wrote online. But about half of those cases were dropped before formal charges were brought. 

Scottow was arrested in front of her children at her home in Hertfordshire last December and held for seven hours while she was questioned. She was fingerprinted and had her mugshot and DNA taken.

As previously reported, she received a court order at the time that banned her from misgendering Hayden online. 

Scottow had been accused of posting “defamatory” tweets and for referring to Hayden not only as male but also as a “racist, xenophobic and a crook.”

She denied harassing Hayden, adding that she holds a “genuine and reasonable belief” that an individual “cannot practically speaking change sex.”

Now facing formal charges, Scottow will appear in Stevenage Magistrates' Court on Sept. 18, according to the Daily Mail.  

Last February, current Prime Minister Boris Johnson criticized Scottow’s arrest as an “abuse of manpower” even though he didn’t agree with what she wrote online. 

“When they read the story of Kate Scottow, I believe most people would indeed be outraged, but not primarily at the content of her tweets,” Johnson wrote in a Facebook post

“Of course we care for anyone whose feelings are bruised, but we aren’t focusing on that. We are thinking about the three police officers, the custody suite that was occupied for seven hours, the witness statements, the court proceedings — the considerable expenditure of public money on what would seem to be a silly (if nasty) Twitter spat.”

“[A]nd we think about that peculiar abuse of manpower and police facilities when we learn that in the last couple of days the NHS has reported a 54 percent increase in stabbings, and when there seems to be a new and tragic incident of knife crime reported virtually every day,” he added. 

In March, a district judge in Essex dismissed what was described as Britain's first transgender hate crime case. The case was filed against a woman accused of harassing transgender activists on Twitter. However, District Judge John Woollard dismissed the case due to a lack of evidence. 

Hayden made headlines last October when launching Britain's first “deadnaming” case against comedy TV writer Graham Linehan on grounds of harassment, defamation and misuse of private information.

Lineham is the co-writer of the sitcom “Father Ted” and was given a verbal warning by police last year.

According to The Guardian, Lineham and Hayden were in a Twitter dispute about gender identity and Lineham posted Hayden’s previous names with pictures. Hayden has over 670,000 followers. 

Meanwhile, Lineham accused Hayden of posting several addresses of Lineham’s family members in an effort to “shut me up.”

Hayden called for authorities to take “swift and proportionate action to make clear that transgender harassment was unacceptable.”

Lineham responded to the police warning and defended his choice to refer to Hayden as “he.”

“I will call all of my trans friends ‘she,’” Lineham was quoted as writing, according to The Guardian. “I think of them as women, they are respectful and are not misogynists. But I refuse to respect the pronouns of misogynists.”

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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