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Transgender people now explicitly covered by press discrimination protections

Michelle O'Toole December 3, 2015

Transgender people are now explicitly protected from dicriminatory reporting by the Editors code of practice, three years after recomendations from the Leverson inquiry.

The Editors’ Code of Practice comittee, lead by Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre, has added gender identity to the discrimination section of the code, and now reads:

“The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s, race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

“Details of an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.”

The Editors’ Code of Practice is followed voluntarily by most British newspapers, magazines and journalists and is regulated by the Independent Press Standard Organisation.

The changes were made after Lord Leverson, said that the coverage of transgender people in the press was “disturbing and intrusive reporting,

“It is clear that there is a marked tendency in a section of the press to fail to treat members of the transgender and intersex communities with sufficient dignity and respect.”

Helen Belcher, co-founder of the charity Trans Media Watch, gave evidence to the Leverson inquiry three years ago and has pointed out that transgender people already had protection under the code in 2005, telling PinkNews “The PCC announced protection for trans people in May 2005.

“The announcement today is a change to the wording of the Code which Trans Media Watch had requested, but doesn’t add any new protections for trans people.”

Dacre’s newspaper, The Daily Mail were heavily criticised back in 2013 for their handling of the story of a school teacher’s transition.

Lucy Meadows, a transgender school teacher, committed suicide in 2013 after her transition was covered in the Daily Mail, who published pictures of angry parents brandishing letters that had been sent by the head teacher of their children’s school, explaining that Ms Meadows was transgender.

Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn went on to criticise Ms Meadows in a transphobic column under the headline “He is not only in the wrong body, he is in the wrong job”.

After Ms Meadow’s death, coronor Michael Singleton laid the blame on the press, saying “To the members of the press, I say shame. Shame on all of you.”

After the code was changed it was reported that Paul Dacre said “I am convinced these changes strengthen the Code and will ensure it remains the universally accepted standard for journalistic practice in the post-Leveson era.”

More: daily mail, lucy meadows, Paul Dacre, richard littlejohn, trans media watch

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