Trans media charity slams attempts to ‘expose’ man who gave birth

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Calls to identify the anonymous transgender man reported to be the first in the UK to give birth have been decried by a charity calling for accuracy and respect for trans people in the media.

Trans Media Watch said today that trans men across the country had been “living in fear” after newspapers began trying to identify the man who had given birth.

Trans Media Watch had filed a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission over The Sun’s request for readers to phone in if they knew the man and reports that it was pursuing members of the trans community to find out his identity.

The Sun’s interim managing editor David Dinsmore explained the rationale behind the decision for yesterday, saying the issue was in the “public interest”.

Accepting the man’s identity was “not necessarily” a matter of public concern, he said the decision on this would “depend wholly on the circumstances”.

He added that the story had been placed in the public domain by a charity and it was “normal journalistic practice” to offer the man an interview or opportunity to comment.

Dinsmore told “Whether we would identify the individual in this case would depend wholly on the circumstances. I can’t say yes or no categorically.

“What if the person also turned out to be a serial killer? There can be no guarantees either way. More likely, if it was NHS funded, that could put a different light on it. There is no easy answer.

“However, I can say that there would be a huge amount of internal debate and this would not JUST be done to out the individual.

Today, TMW’s Project Manager, Paris Lees, accused The Sun of harassment and hypocrisy after its reaction to the arrest of several staff members: “This week, the Sun claimed it was subject to ‘a witch-hunt’. Odd, coming from a newspaper now trying to expose an innocent member of the public simply for being transgender.”

She continued: “Is it in the public interest if a private individual chooses to become pregnant? Quite frankly, this person’s gender identity is nobody else’s business – and certainly not cause for a national phone-in.”

She said the move had caused anxiety in the trans community: “There are trans men around the country who’ve been living in fear for the past few days, scared they could be paraded as freaks on the Sun’s front page.

“What right does a newspaper have to make innocent members of the public feel this way?”

Mr Dinsmore said yesterday: “I can’t see a risk of people not directly related to this story being outed by the media. That is a danger: but again, I do not believe that the media should be shackled on basis of possible collateral damage.”

In a Facebook poll, 85% said today the identity was categorically not in the public interest. Of the 495 responses gathered, 9% said it would be up to the anonymous man in question. Only 3% had said the man’s identity was a public matter.

TMW believes that newspapers pursuing the story breach the PCC Editors’ Code in four distinct areas: privacy, harassment, protection of children, and discrimination.

Helen Belcher, TMW’s Treasurer, advised the PCC that its code had been broken, but says that the regulator was unable to take action: “The PCC clearly felt there was some substance in those claims but, sadly, has yet again shown it is incapable of halting such abusive behaviour.”

The charity’s criticism comes just one week after Ms Belcher presented evidence to the Leveson Inquiry regarding the treatment of transgender people in the media.

TMW said in its submission that damage was often done by the media’s reporting to trans individuals and families who were not linked to a story.