“There is no case and never was a case.”
A transgender woman who opposes transgender activism went on trial Friday for allegedly committing a hate crime during a Twitter debate.
But the judge threw out the case after a single hearing – abruptly ending the United Kingdom’s first transgender hate crime prosecution.
In announcing his decision, District Judge John Woollard declared: “There is no case and never was a case.”
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Prosecutors had brought the harassment charges against Miranda Yardley – a 51-year-old transgender critic of transgender culture – based on a complaint last year by Helen Islan, a transgender rights advocate.
The two had last year taken opposite sides in an online argument over gender self-identification, which has become a hotly contested issue in the United Kingdom because of planned legal reforms to let anyone change their gender without surgery.
Yardely, an accountant who has had sex reassignment surgery, was among those arguing on Twitter that transgender activists are setting back women’s rights and threatening their safety by allowing transgender women access to female-only institutions. Her position has long been that while gender is flexible, biological sex is a fact and should be respected.
Islan – who is the mother of a transgender child and works for Mermaids, a group that advocates for transgender youth – accused Yardley’s side of “spreading hysteria.”
Yardley responded by revealing Islan’s identity in a tweet that referenced the woman’s transgender child.
Islan then claimed that Yardley had effectively “outed” her son, saying the post made her feel “stressed and sick” and that her family had faced harassment as a result.
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(Yardley in May said she was excommunicated from Twitter for violating its “hate speech” policy by calling a transgender politician a man. Months later, Twitter specifically banned “misgendering” and “deadnaming.”)
When Islan’s complaint reached Essex police, they deemed that Yardley had committed a hate crime, part of a trend of UK law enforcement taking action against critics of transgenderism.
However, in court, Yardley’s attorneys showed that Islan had regularly tweeted about her son in the past, including announcing that he had come out at school. They also showed that a Google search was sufficient to find a family photograph she had posted as well as her personal information.
“Where is the evidence [of harassment] taking into account the need for free speech? You have to show a course of conduct and at the moment we have one tweet,” Woollard said at one point in the hearing. “Where is the evidence for Miranda Yardley outing Ms Islan’s son?”
In throwing out the case, he ordered the state to pay Yardley’s legal bills.
Critics of the transgender-rights movement hailed the decision as victory for free speech.
Barrister Amanda Jones, who has represented clients accused of “anti-trans” comments, told The Mail on Sunday that the legal proceedings had been a waste of police resources and taxpayer money.
“The police and the CPS routinely ignore rape threats, death threats and abusive material targeted at women online,” she said. “The entire criminal justice system is falling apart from underfunding and this case appears to have been a complete waste of public funds.”
Islan sought to distance herself from the failed prosecution: ‘The decision to prosecute was made by the CPS, not me personally and I accept the verdict of the court.”
But Yardely wasn’t buying it. In a post to her blog Sunday, she noted that Islan had threatened to sue her, and called the woman a “hypocrite.”
Yardely also warned that police had sought to “enforce a political ideology” against her, saying: “I faced losing everything I worked for.
Essex Police said: “We take all reports of hate crime incidents seriously.”
Meanwhile, Americans have been engaged in similar culture wars of transgender rights.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised to use her new Democratic majority to advance legislation recognizing gender self-identification, and the extent and even concept of hate crimes has come into question amid mounting evidence that actor Jussie Smollett staged a high-profile attack on himself.
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