MPs condemn media hunt for trans man who gave birth

Stephen Gray February 21, 2012
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Leader of the Green Party Caroline Lucas has tabled an Early Day Motion at Parliament condemning the media’s attempts to discover the identity of a transgender man who gave birth to a child.

Caroline Lucas described the attempts to reveal the man’s identity as a “transphobic witch-hunt”.

Today’s motion calls on the media to stop “urging readers to try to identify this trans man and his child”.

The parliamentary call for debate has been backed by Julian Huppert MP of the Liberal Democrats and former leader of Northern Ireland’s Social Democratic and Labour Party, Mark Durkan MP.

Lucas, who is the MP for Brighton, specifically condemns The Sun’s decision to publish a hotline number for readers to call if they thought they knew the trans man, who was reportedly the first in the UK to give birth, and calls on the editor of The Sun to apologise for the “fear and distress” caused to trans people.

Talking to last week, the paper’s Interim Managing Editor defended the decision to publish the public call to discover the man’s identity.

The Westminster motion reads: “That this House recognises that efforts by the press to identify a trans man and his child at the heart of a recent story go well beyond any potential public interest; condemns the press’s chosen method of a hotline for identifying the person in question; further condemns the press for placing the child and family involved at such high risk of abuse and severe disruption to their lives.”

The MPs are “concerned about other trans people and their families who have no connection to this case and yet are facing similar severe risks, such consequences being clearly identified in Trans Media Watch’s evidence of 8 February 2012 to the Leveson Inquiry.”

The motion then “calls on The Sun newspaper to immediately desist from urging readers to try to identify this trans man and his child, as it is not in the public interest; and further calls on the editor of The Sun to apologise for the fear and distress the newspaper’s hotline campaign has caused amongst many trans people and their families.”

Jennie Kermode, Chair of Trans Media Watch, said the charity welcomed “this intervention by Caroline Lucas on behalf of a vulnerable individual who is unable to speak up for himself without placing himself and his child at further risk”.

She added: “We are grateful for support of Ms Lucas and others who have signed this motion, and we hope it will signal to The Sun and its ilk that the days when this sort of journalism was accepted are long gone.”

The Sun had no further comment to make today.

Caroline Lucas MP said: “The Sun’s shameful attempt to identify a trans man and his child is nothing short of a transphobic witch-hunt, which once again raises questions about the nature of tabloid press reporting.

“That the paper thinks this action is acceptable and in the ‘public interest’ suggests that it has learned nothing from the Leveson Inquiry and the ongoing debate around ethics in British journalism.

“This man has made it clear that he wishes to remain anonymous to protect himself and his child from unwanted attention – and by pursuing him in this way, The Sun has placed the child and family at risk of abuse and severe disruption.

“There is also serious concern within the trans community that other trans people and their families who have no connection to this case now face increased risk of public exposure and subsequent attacks.

“Many trans people already face significant discrimination and abuse in their everyday lives, and transphobic media reporting only serves to reinforce the negative stereotyping which feeds prejudice.”

Lucas concluded: “The Sun should immediately apologise for its calls urging readers to try to identify this trans man and his child, and respect the privacy of those in the transgender and intersex community who wish to maintain their anonymity.

“I urge my fellow MPs to sign the Early Day Motion to send a strong message to The Sun that Parliament takes questions of press ethics seriously – and is ready to act over the prejudicial treatment of Britain’s trans community.”

More: Caroline Lucas, green party, press, The Sun, Trans, Transgender

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