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UK: Trans police officer sues force after she had to ‘out’ herself over police radio

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  1. I’m intrigued as to why Essex Police decided to contest this, especially as the likely payout is so small. They clearly feel it is not as straightforward as the article implies.
    I must admit, if I was in the radio room and took a message from a person who didn’t appear to match the details I was seeing on my screen, I would query the call…

    1. Can you explain why her gender would actually be relevant in ‘you’ answering the call…?

      It’s hardly conclusive proof of her identity is it…

      On that basis ANY woman calling in claiming to be PC Chapman would be believed by ‘you’ yet SHE wouldn’t…

      You’re making the same mistake as the call operators in question did…

  2. So now PC Chapman has ‘outed herself’ by going public with this, a bit of an own goal. Also, something doesn’t seem right with this story.

    If PC Chapman was so worried about her voice why not have surgery of the voice box and speech therapy, it worked for a Trans friend of mine.

    1. “I have a trans friend so I’m not transphobic”. Sure!

      1. Going public was an own goal? Yes, if own goal is to stop institutionalised trans abuse against herself and other trans* people.

      2. Have you any clue how dangerous voice box surgery is and what the likely complications are. Speech therapy can adjust some things, sure. But if you think it is that ‘all mighty’, try it yourself

      1. erm – where in the article does it mention any “institutionalised trans abuse”? I’m not aware any such thing is even implied.

        There is no mention of any abuse here at all. We have no reason to believe any took place.

      2. Are you actually claiming that assuming that someone is a man be cause she sounds like a man on the police radio is ‘institutional trans abuse’?

        Hilarious and pathetic.

      3. RM. Ever heard of keeping your head down when someone is shooting at you, that is why I suggest PC Chapman scored an own goal.

        Tomorrow I’m having dinner with four Trans friends, one who is a Magistrate and has had this surgery [and I've known her for 30 years] so I’ll ask them if I’m “transphobic”

      4. Well said
        Shocking lack of understanding from Angela, Rachel and Steve.

        This is not the first time there have been (ongoing) lack of insight re LGBT issues from within various Police Forces around the country.

        My concern is why people would immediately assume PC Chapman is lying yet the Police’s official response is unquestionably true…

    2. Voice surgery has very limited success and many people have reported that it has been disastrous. Voice therapy can help enormously, but some people do find that difficult – especially in highly stressful situations, which this officer could have found herself in.

  3. Maybe she didn’t want to?

  4. Can’t get my head round this. If she has a male voice I am not entirely surprised that her identity was questioned after introducing herself over the radio as “Emma”. Surely the officer was just doing his job. Is it so hard to say “I am a transsexual”?
    Hopefully, if more trans people join the force, police staff will become more familiar with these issues.

  5. all call should be answered whoever the responed in a non gendered way had this trouble with the local hospital they changed in the end as many private companies

  6. Well done police, now go wonder why we don’t trust you to do anything but make any situation worse.
    Loving the comments by cis experts btw, please explain some more about the reality of our lives and experiences, plus the advice you are so thoughtfully giving is very helpful. <3

    1. Sure.

      When I answer the phone and what sounds like a man answers, then I assume I am talking to a man.

      if they announce their name as Emma then I may be confused and reply ‘excuse me’.

      This doesn’t make me transphobic.

      It sounds like this policewoman is trying to extort money or alternatively is so hyper-sensitive that she is probably not suited to be a policewoman.

      1. Thanks for ‘splaining more!
        Good to know you have the authority to police (lol) gender. And throwing in the “too sensitive” trope too, very original!
        I think you may be the delicate little flower with something to prove here though Steve”thisdoesn’tmakemetransphobic”C!

    2. Ha ha – now that’s a first; being accused of “cis privilege”!!! :-)

      1. Cis privilege and cissexism are two different things, you don’t require the former to be guilty of the latter, I’ve been there too.
        Keep trying to prove you are pne of the “good ones” though, you may get some basic respect if you show enough gratitude. :o)

    3. Well said, Baph

      Shocking level of ignorance on the subject from certain commentators here alongside an odd willingness to disbelieve PC Chapman’s side of events while wholeheartedly believing the Police’s without question…

      Perhaps they work for Essex Police…

  7. She has a gruff, manly voice. She needs to get over herself.

    if she sounds like a man then she will be confused with a man.

    A cis woman with a deep voice who brought a case like this would be laughed at.

    Maybe this officer is simply looking to extort money from her employer for making a genuine mistake. And if she sounds like a man people will think she is a man.

    1. And maybe you don’t know what the fcvk you’re talking about and should join the Police…
      Not that they need more people in their ranks with such prejudiced and uninformed notions…

      a) you absolutely no idea how ‘gruff’ or ‘manly’ HER voice is – and b) how she speaks is absolutely NONE of your concern

      And actually a CIS woman who bought a case like this would also be protected under the Equality Act; because it’s irrelevant and the Equality Act covers both direct and INDIRECT discrimination.
      Essex police have a duty of care under that Law to address staff training to ensure NO Police Officer is put into a potentially dangerous position simply because of their PERCEIVED gender…

  8. You can’t get your head around this. Firstly, you assume the officer responding is male, secondly, they did this over an open radio chanel, where the entire force that was on duty, could have potentially heard it.
    Why should anyone have to wait for a majority before they rectify issues.

  9. SteveC…Maybe if you knew what you were talking about, then a more interlectual reply may have been forthcoming. Not sure what cis is, but obviously alphmale dominated for anyone to just be laughed at.

    1. Stif – “cis” is a term sometimes used by the trans* community to describe those people who are not trans – i.e presenting as the same sex they were assigned at birth.

    2. A straight, female colleague of mine (who is not trans) gets mistaken for a man regularly on the phone, because she has a deep voice.

      She finds it annoying on occasion, but generally laughs it off. She knows she has a deep voice, so it doesn’t bother her.

  10. SteveC…Maybe if you knew what you were talking about, then a more interlectual reply may have been forthcoming. Not sure what cis is, but obviously alphamale dominated for anyone to just be laughed at.

  11. I am not trans but am a guy that on the phone customer services often query my gender. This doesn’t happen in person, but obviously my voice sounds feminine and this has become a security nightmare with banking institutions! I have been cut off twice and had my credit card temporarily blocked. The thing is that over the phone call centres take the voice they here as black and white and won’t query it!

    most financial institutions have a policy where you can ask for more security checks to prove yourself but it can be very embarrassing and the advisers often just cut you off as “security”.

    In the case of Emma, I don’t understand why they couldn’t do a further security check, her name, her badge number, etc etc. It must have got pretty bad if she had to out herself to be “proved”. This area is an area for so many people that needs to be improved. People are not so black and white, even none trans people get mistaken a lot! must be worse for the trans community :(

  12. Jane Clare Pawling 18 Oct 2013, 8:32pm

    I am post-operative trans male-to-female, 70 years old. My voice varies with my mood, time-of-day, throat condition, etc. I made my transition on-the-job, so I have nothing to hide; I am retired, own my modest half-duplex house, and thus am free for most purposes. Others are not so fortunate. My attitude is if you have a problem with me, that is your problem, not mine. But then, I am introverted.

  13. First voice surgery is not often successful sometimes it causes other problems the only thing it will do is spend your money.
    Second those with masculine voices even trained to a better register will still sound low over radios and phones as they register lower frequencies more than intermediate frequencies , higher friquenceis sound even higher. The command should have had a “word” with the operators in communications to ally any problems recognizing the officer calling in. But of course that would be to simple.

  14. I am aware of most of the details with this incident and can inform you all, that the procedure that has to be followed, means that the officer on the radio can be identified and if that is not sufficient, then the officer can be spoken to personally, on the radio, but only a two way call. Nobody else can hear it and passwords are used to confirm this.
    It is clearly a lack of training in a large organisation who think they are exempt from Homophobia, racism, bullying, discrimination and victimisation.
    Stand up to these people and everyone will move towards a more peaceful work environment.

  15. Colin (London) 19 Oct 2013, 9:32am

    I can see both sides here. This id=s difficult and I hope it’s not about money.

    Yes she has the right to be treated as a woman but being part of a small section of society most people should (in my opinion) be given some scope to cross check as they will not have come across a male sounding voice from a woman

    I hope there is a lot more behind this than the published account.

  16. essexgirlbecky 19 Oct 2013, 10:38am

    This comes as no surprise whatsoever. This matches my experiences when living in Essex of reporting issues using the non-emergency number over a period of years. I was regularly queried about my identity when I gave my name. And a lot of my calls were not followed up. I now live in Leicestershire, and I have to say that officers here are generally far better versed in dealing with such matters.

  17. I’m an actual transwoman, so perhaps that makes my opinions more valid?
    anyway, I will say that voice things are a hard issue, especially over the radio. If she had transitioned later one in her life (i believe it said she is 44?) than transition is a little bit more difficult, and things can be harder to change.

    I do think that if she was intentionally not out to the general force for many years, and her voice did not yet “pass” (for lack of a better word) than it’s very reasonable that the person on the other end of the radio ask more questions to confirm her identity. (if the nature of that questioning was intentionally rude, than that’s a problem obviously).

    Voice therapy, practice and hard work do make it possible to change your voice, I can attest to this. Before my legal name change I had the opposite problem when speaking on the phone regarding things that were in my then legal name. I’d be asked if I was my own girlfriend or wife, calling on behaf of my former self.

    1. essexgirlbecky 21 Oct 2013, 6:37pm

      Sorry; in this instance your trans status doesn’t entitle you to any privileges in this debate. Not when your point, when it’s reduced to its most basic elements, is that it is somehow acceptable to discriminate against transpeople who don’t pass!

  18. James Campbell 24 Oct 2013, 11:12pm

    As a specialist in child mental health I work with many young people (and their families) who are trans or gay or intersex (or all three). My impression of this case is that yet again, a UK police force betray their poor standard of staff training and consequent lack of tact. Forcing an officer to reveal highly sensitive, personal details via a radio connection should not have happened. I have been involved in training programmes for public services for several years and although many police officers are extremely sensitive and supportive of minorities there are those who are either hostile to or dismissive of those (whom they perceive as) ‘different’ can make life hell for both colleagues and the general public.

  19. James Campbell 24 Oct 2013, 11:13pm

    Experience has shown me that many of our police forces in the UK are still woefully ill-trained with regard to minorities and human rights.

    Because of the extensive media coverage of gay issues, most officers are aware of the standards that should apply to their treatment of gay people (although even here, there are still officers who only pay lip service to equality). However, ignorance regarding trans people is still unforgivably high and riddled with an undercurrent of disrespect (especially for trans women). The level of understanding regarding intersex people is almost zero.

  20. James Campbell 24 Oct 2013, 11:14pm

    If the radio contact in this case had attended a well-organised training course, they would already be aware that there may be an issue of voice recognition with some trans officers (mainly transwomen). The operator in this case would then be alerted to use a code to which the officer could respond to confirm her status, rather than to have to use terms such as ‘transsexual’ (in any case, many trans people once they have transitioned, are reluctant to identify themselves as ‘transsexual’).

    The way in which gay people are treated by the media and public services etc. must be challenged, but so must the brutality (both physical and psychological) aimed at trans people.

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