A British mother of two was convicted and fined on Friday for using social media to be “unkind and abusive” to a transgender woman.
Kate Scottow was found guilty of persistently making use of a public communications network to cause annoyance, inconvenience and anxiety. Her victim was Stephanie Hayden, a biological male who identifies as a woman, Metro reported.
Judge Margaret Dodd scolded Scottow, who did not attend the hearing, at the end of the two-day trial.
“We teach our children to be kind to each other and not to call each other names, you should follow that principle. We think before we write,” Dodd said at the hearing.
“I take the view it was unkind and abusive. I find you were well aware of what you were doing. You do not deny the comments.”
“You started the tweets, you could have stopped them. Little on the internet remains a secret. You caused needless annoyance and anxiety,” the judge continued. “You said in your evidence that you knew it would get to Stephanie. It was not just the content but also the choice of one of the usernames was to deliberately annoy her. I find you guilty.”
Scottow, 39, who is studying for a master’s degree in forensic psychology, was arrested in front of her children at her home in Hertfordshire, England, in December 2018.
She later detailed the ordeal on Mumsnet, a popular British parenting website, saying: “I was arrested in my home by three officers, with my autistic ten-year-old daughter and breastfed 20-month-old son present.”
Her case has drawn attention from free speech advocates, who have criticized U.K. police for responding with a heavy hand in recent years to citizens who have challenged transgender rights activists online.
This woman #KateScottow now has a criminal record because she wrote some *not very nice* tweets in which she called a trans woman (ie. a man) he/him.
If you believe in free speech, you should help support her appeal. Everyone needs to know about this so please share far & wide. https://t.co/BRLPsPA1Sz
— Julia Hartley-Brewer (@JuliaHB1) February 14, 2020
Kate Scottow convicted
Last week, Hayden, 48, told the the St. Albans Magistrates’ Court that Scottow began her tweets in 2018. She said Scottow “misgendered” her as “him” and called her a “pig in a wig,” among other offenses.
“This is the problem with these people. It’s just done to annoy people like me,” Hayden testified. “It’s calculated to violate my dignity as a woman. It’s just harassment.”
Scottow’s attorney, Diane Wilson, said her client was not aware that her actions were against the law.
“She did not know she was committing an offense,” Wilson said. “She has completely come off Twitter.”
Dodd ordered Scottow, a mother of two who is studying for a master’s degree in forensic psychology, to pay 1,000 pounds [about $1,300] within six months, The Sun reported.
Scottow was reportedly considering an appeal.
Outside the courtroom, Scottow’s supporters chanted, “Pig in a wig” and, “He is a man – go on prosecute me.”