… it is the context in which words are used that is the key to understanding whether certain words will cause offence.
Part of an Ofcom judgement which took the context into account: The fact that this comment was intended to be a joke was illustrated further by the reaction from Andy Davies, who was heard laughing. Ofcom therefore considered that the nature of the joke and the tone and manner in which it was presented made clear that it was not intended to be hostile or pejorative ….
TMW’s position on the Ofcom report is rather more nuanced than this. We had significant misgivings about the fact that only one MtF trans group (of 6), and just 1 FtM trans person took part. This makes conclusions drawn specifically from this sub sample hard to have much confidence in, leaving the question ‘Why bother?’. The study was qualitative in nature, not quantitative, so questions of statistical validity are not the issue here – but even with that in mind, this is a tiny number of people.
Nevertheless, that there were any trans people AT ALL in this study is a step forward, albeit a small one.
What that tiny sub sample said was very recognisable.
More encouraging was the fact that amongst the wider general sample, there was a noticeable intolerance for gratuitously transphobic language – adding to the sense that the population at large are some way ahead of parts of the media in their rejection of transphobic (and homophobic) language.
Interesting. My own personal experience of Ofcom is when I sent them a letter complaining about the Channel 4 F-Word episode in which Gordon Ramsay described Lili Allen as a ‘Chick with a Dxxk’ in an attempt to humiliate her. I pointed out that this could be transphobic as many transwomen have male genitalia but are just as female as other women who do not have male genitalia. Ofcom sent me back a letter rejecting my complaint, claiming that describing a woman as a ‘chick with a dxxk’ was not transphobic. Ofcom concluded the letter with: “if Ms. Allen wishes to make a complaint then she is free to do so.” I got the impression that they didn’t want to treat the complaint with a bargepole.