The CEO of transgender children’s charity Mermaids has criticised “incorrect” media reports that claimed police are investigating a woman for “misgendering” her daughter.
A front-page Daily Telegraph story on Wednesday (March 20) alleged that Surrey Police were investigating former Catholic Voices spokesperson Caroline Farrow for “using the wrong pronoun to describe a transgender woman” on Twitter.
The story, which was picked up by a string of other outlets, alleged that Mermaids CEO Susie Green had made a complaint after a Twitter exchange in which Farrow “was accused of using the wrong pronoun in an exchange over Ms Green’s transgender daughter.”
However, Green clarified to PinkNews that her hate crime report was related to tweets from Farrow that accused her of “child abuse” and of illegally “mutilating” her trans daughter.
Mermaids CEO was accused of ‘child abuse’
Farrow had claimed her comments were a “Freudian slip,” telling Victoria Derbyshire she “didn’t do it with malicious intent and was referring to her daughter as a son in the past tense, before she had her gender reassigned.”
Green published the full screenshots of Farrow’s since-deleted tweets.
The Twitter messages were published in October, weeks after Farrow and Green appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain in September to discuss Girl Guides’ Equality and Diversity policy, which includes transgender women and girls.
In a series of posts, Farrow accused Green of castrating her 16-year-old child, writing: “What she did to her own son is illegal. She mutilated him by having him castrated and rendered sterile while still a child.”
Another tweet read: “I think it’s time everyone called out Susie Green and Mermaids policy for what it is. Child abuse.”
A third one added: “Susie Green may feel that giving her son off-label illegal medication and drastic surgery was the path of least harm in her circumstances but she shouldn’t project and impose it on other vulnerable kids as best practice.”
Susie Green hits back as ‘misgendering’ claims
Speaking to PinkNews, Green said coverage of the issue has been misleading, adding: “They’ve made all sort of assumptions, but nobody actually asked to see the tweets.”
It is not the first time Mermaids has faced negative media coverage that has caused controversy.
In January, MailOnline issued an apology to the charity over an article that included “incorrect” claims and fell below required standards “avoid inaccurate, misleading or distorted reporting of issues affecting transgender children.”
The Sunday Times newspaper was also forced to issue a retraction in January 2018 over a previous story on the charity’s work.
Green told PinkNews: “I think certain elements of the media are quick to jump to criticise any trans-supportive organisation, it’s not just us.
“We do seem to be getting a lot of negative attention. Whether that’s targeted or not, I don’t know… [but] families and transgender children are seeing the disinformation being shared.”
She added: “It’s hard enough parenting a trans child and trying to do your best, without seeing yourself depicted as a child abuser, and to be told that your experiences of hate are not valid.”
In a statement to PinkNews, Mermaids said: “On this occasion the public discussion has not been accurately informed about the content of the tweets complained of.”
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Mermaids added: “They were allegations of serious misconduct and vile and spiteful personal attacks.
“The content was not about misgendering and it is unfortunate that so much of the media has fallen for the incorrect claim that they were.
“The fact that not a single item in the media about this matter has actually quoted the tweets also speaks for itself.”
The Sun has since updated its coverage to reference the contents of Farrow’s tweets.
The BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show also aired the tweets as part of an interview with Green.
Green told PinkNews she has not yet considered whether to seek corrections from outlets, or whether to complain to the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
She explained she has now withdrawn her police complaint, in order to be able to speak out about coverage of the issue.
A spokesperson for Surrey Police said: “We received an allegation on October 15, 2018, in relation to a number of tweets which were posted in October 2018.
“A thorough investigation is being carried out to establish whether any criminal offences have taken place. A 44-year-old woman has been asked to attend a voluntary interview in relation to the allegation as part of our ongoing investigation.”