“We take all reports of malicious communication seriously.”
A mother was arrested in front of her children and jailed after referring to a transgender woman as a man online.
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Three officers detained Kate Scottow, a 38-year-old masters’ student, at her home in Hertfordshire, England and locked her up for seven hours last December. Her photograph, DNA, and fingerprints were taken, and she remains under investigation.
She was also served with a court order that bans her from continuing to “deadname” or “misgender” her accuser, transgender activist Stephanie Hayden.
Scottow allegedly tweeted “defamatory” comments about Hayden amid a “toxic” online debate over proposed changes to the UK Gender Recognition Act, according to High Court papers obtained by The Mail on Sunday. She has been accused of a “campaign of targeted harassment” against Hayden, allegedly motivated by her “status as a transgender woman.”
Writing last week on Mumsnet, a popular British parenting website, Scottow said: “I was arrested in my home by three officers, with my autistic ten-year-old daughter and breastfed 20-month-old son present.”
“I was then detained for seven hours in a cell with no sanitary products (which I said I needed) before being interviewed then later released under investigation … I was arrested for harassment and malicious communications because I called someone out and misgendered them on Twitter.”
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Months after her arrest on Dec. 1, 2018, Scottow’s cellphone and laptop remained confiscated by police, which she said left her unable to properly study for her degree in forensic psychology.
Hertfortshire Police confirmed the arrest to The Mail, saying: “We take all reports of malicious communication seriously.”
Police across England have in recent months responded with a heavy hand to citizens who have challenged transgender-rights activists on the internet.
Last Monday, an elderly feminist, received an early morning phone call from police in her Suffolk County, England, warning her over a blog post she wrote against reforming the Gender Recognition Act to let anyone legally switch their gender without getting surgery. Margaret Nelson, 74, argued in the post that transgender activists hold an “absurd” and “nonsensical” ideology, which the law should not allow to trump biological reality.
Amid backlash to the police action, including from Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, the constabulary apologized and vowed to amend its ways.
But the policing of such speech has become a national issue. A Humberside Police officer last month interrogated a dockworker for 20 minutes for retweeting a rowdy limerick about trans women being men. “We need you to check your thinking,” Harry Miller, a 53-year-old former British policeman, said he was told by the officer.
In October 2018, sitcom writer Graham Linehan, 50, was given a verbal harassment warning by West Yorkshire Police after transgender activist Stephanie Hayden reported him for referring to her by her previous names and pronouns on Twitter. Linehan was also enjoined against further contact with Hayden.
A month earlier, the South Yorkshire Police encouraged civilians on Twitter to report “non-crime hate incidents” that “feel like crimes.”
Meanwhile, in the United States, Twitter in November banned “deadnaming” and “misgendering” of transgender people as newly empowered Democrats in Congress have promised to advance legislation on behalf of trans people.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York announced last week that she will promote legislation to protect trans soldiers, as well as bring a trans Navy lieutenant commander to the State of the Union address. She said the bill was a response to President Donald Trump’s “cruel” ban on trans service members, which was revived last month by the Supreme Court.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pledged to use her new House majority to advance the Equality Act, a bill that would codify protections against LGBT discrimination, including special guarantees for trans people to be regarded in federal spaces according to their self-identified gender rather than their biological sex.
However, not everyone has gotten on board. A number of “trans-exclusionary radical feminists,” as they are derogatorily called on the left, last week sought to block the Equality Act by aligning with conservatives and in one case ambushing a transgender woman who was advocating for the bill on Capitol Hill.
Back in England, Scottow denied harassing or defaming Miss Hayden and said she holds a “genuine and reasonable belief” that a human “cannot practically speaking change sex.” Scottow on Saturday declined The Mail’s request for comment.
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