Guidance issued by the University of Central Lancashire to its journalism students is recommending that reporters covering court proceedings do not refer to trans women as “women” as, according to the guidance, “This implies that the writer, and publication, agrees [sic] with the proposition ‘transwomen are women’. This is opinion, not a fact.”
The guidance, authored by Dr Amy Binns and Sophie Arnold, suggested that phrases like “Smith now identifies as a woman” or “Smith claimed to be transgender” be used instead.
The document also discusses pronouns, saying that “To refer to a biological male with female pronouns is to tacitly agree with their claim that they are a woman or transwoman” and that “Using their chosen pronouns is to collude in their possible deception.”
While there may be an argument for indicating the pre-transition sex of someone who committed a sexual assault or rape prior to their transition, especially if it helps previous victims of the perpetrator to come forward, the university’s guidance goes much further. In one section the authors recommend that reporters provide readers with detailed information about a person’s official name change, medical treatment and when they transitioned.
It is also recommended that the biological sex of a trans defendant is made clear “high up in the story” and to “use both birth and trans names where available.”
TV presenter India Willoughby, who rose to fame as the UK’s first trans newsreader before stints on Loose Women and Celebrity Big Brother, took to Twitter to urge her followers “to send an email expressing your disgust at the appalling discriminatory document” and to write to the office of Professor Graham Baldwin, the University of Central Lancashire’s vice-chancellor.
A statement about diversity on the university’s website reads, “Any form of harassment, bullying or hate crime will not be tolerated and we are moving forward on preventing and addressing all such situations. Our ethos is respect for all. We believe it is our collective responsibility to make sure that everybody is treated equally, has equality of opportunity and feels as though they belong within the University.”
We have been asked to point out that the University of Central Lancashire, to which this article refers, is an entirely separate institution from Lancaster University.