UK: Police Force Encourages People to Report “Deadnaming” as a Hate Crime

Leicestershire Police are under fire for a Twitter post in which they appear to suggest that using an incorrect name for a trans-identified individual could be reported as a “hate crime.”

On October 8, Leicestershire Police’s Stay Safe Twitter account launched a social media campaign advertising Stamp It Out, an anti-hate resource website which provides information on the laws surrounding hate crimes in the area.

Stay Safe, a combined account for the force’s Crime Reduction Officers and Hate Crime Officer, was encouraging social media users to utilize Stamp It Out’s online reporting system in the event they experienced a hate crime.

The campaign’s Twitter posts, of which there were 7 in total, all include a black-and-white graphic with a photo of a person, and a quote in which they described an experience being targeted on the basis of their identity or appearance.

But one of the posts in particular has gone viral for appearing to suggest that calling a transgender person by a non-preferred name would be considered a reportable hate crime.

The graphic featured a photo of a man with long, blond hair, and a quote which read: “I get called by my previous male name on purpose, but that’s not who I am. it can be really hurtful, especially when it’s just seen as a joke.” The quote and photo were attributed to “Jane, 57” of Hinckley.

Despite purporting to depict a real member of the community, “Jane” is in fact a stock image model who has appeared in dozens of licensable photos across popular stock image websites.

The model was also featured in a “body positive” lingerie campaign in 2015 for Lane Bryant, an American women’s apparel and intimates specialty retailer focusing on plus-size clothing. 

The #EmpowerAllBodies campaign from LANE BRYANT.

The photos used by Leicestershire Police were taken from a series shot by Arizona-based photographer Anna Griessel. It is unlikely that the model was aware of their likeness being utilized by Leicestershire Police for the campaign, as the rights to stock photos are usually purchased through third-parties.

“Transgender blond female leaning on building” taken by Anna Greissel.

As of this article’s writing, Leicestershire Police’s post featuring “Jane” has wracked up over 3,000 overwhelmingly negative replies, compared to just 267 ‘likes,’ many of which were ironic.

Many users in the United Kingdom pointed out that Leicester has seen a massive surge in crime recently, and that the force’s campaign appears to demonstrate misplaced priorities.

“Leicester has just seen unprecedented unrest and violence, including rioting and looting, on its streets, and there have been numerous reports of sexual assault in the county this year. Fortunately, the police are on the case,” popular UK-based information service @ripx4nutmeg wrote sarcastically.

“You will not compel my speech. Do your real job. 3 women a week in the UK are murdered by men not to mention countless rapes and attacks. Where’s your publicity campaign for them and their children?” User @joolzdenby wrote, referencing femicide statistics which show one woman dies by domestic violence every three days in the United Kingdom.

Responding directly to Leicestershire Police, police watchdog We Are Fair Cop asked: “where is the hate crime here, please?”

Speaking to Reduxx, Dr. Kate Coleman of Keep Prisons Single Sex pointed out that what Leicestershire Police were suggesting was a criminal offense — “deadnaming” a transgender person — was in fact not a legal matter at all.

“A hate crime is a normal crime plus an aggregator. In this case, it would be hostility on the basis of transgender identity,” Dr. Coleman said. “But where is the crime in the example Leicestershire gives There is no crime. So this cannot be a hate crime.”

Coleman is the director of Keep Prisons Single Sex (KPSS), a campaign group focused on advocating for prisons to be segregated by sex, not self-declared gender identity. KPSS is vocal about the rights of women in the UK legal system, and has recently launched a crowdfunder to assist with their activism efforts.

Coleman slammed Leicestershire Police for their apparent lack of insight into the laws they were purporting to enforce, noting that it was a widespread issue in the United Kingdom. She speculated the cause may be that the police have become “institutionally captured” by gender ideology or its proponents.

“Police forces appear to be consistently unaware that in order for a hate crime to be reported, an actual crime must have been committed,” she said. “Hurting someone’s feelings, offending them, upsetting them or making them cry are not crimes. Yet the police are stating that they appear to be willing to act as if they are.”

Despite “misgendering” and “deadnaming” not being crimes in the United Kingdom, multiple women have been arrested or threatened with arrest on those grounds.

In 2019, a mother in Hertfordshire was arrested in front of her children and held for over 7 hours after being reported for “misgendering” a man who identified as a woman on Twitter. Kate Scottow’s conviction was ultimately overturned on appeal the next year, but was just one of many similar cases that would emerge. 

Coleman expresses cautious optimism for the state of free speech rights in the United Kingdom, but stresses that many women are still concerned about being arrested and possibly charged for expressing factually accurate statements related to biology or gender ideology.

“I firmly believe that our determination to fight on will continue. Each day more people, men as well as women, realize the extent of this threat to freedom of speech. I am optimistic, but it would not surprise me if police forces double-down before things improve.”

The backlash against Leicestershire Police comes just weeks after a similar incident in Sussex.

The Sussex Police force came under fire after a series of posts cautioning Twitter users who were “misgendering” a serial pedophile named in one of their case updates. Taken by many to be a thinly-veiled threat of criminalization, some users asked if they could be charged if they continued to refer to the predator as a “man.” Sussex Police replied to those users with a link to their website outlining the nature of a hate crime, and encouraging people to ensure their “gender critical views” were “not targeted at an individual.”

Sussex Police ultimately retracted the tweets and apologized after widespread outrage.

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Anna Slatz

Anna is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Reduxx, with a journalistic focus on covering crime, child predators, and women's rights. She lives in Canada, enjoys Opera, and kvetches in her spare time.

Anna Slatz
Anna Slatz
Anna is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Reduxx, with a journalistic focus on covering crime, child predators, and women's rights. She lives in Canada, enjoys Opera, and kvetches in her spare time.