by WorldTribune Staff, February 10, 2019
A British woman was arrested in her home in front of her two young children on charges of calling a woman transgender activist by her former male name – or “deadnaming” – in a Twitter argument.
In comments posted to the Mumsnet online forum, Kate Scottow of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, said she was “arrested in my home by three officers, with my autistic ten-year-old daughter and breastfed 20-month-old son present.”
“I was then detained for seven hours in a cell with no sanitary products (which I said I needed) before being interviewed then later released under investigation… I was arrested for harassment and malicious communications because I called someone out and misgendered them on Twitter,” Scottow said.
Under the UK’s Malicious Communications Act, it is a crime for someone to “send a letter or any other form of communication that is indecent or grossly offensive, threatening, or contains information which is false or believed to be false. The purpose for sending it is to cause distress or anxiety to the person it is sent to.”
The maximum sentence on indictment is 5 years imprisonment, or a fine, or both.
Scottow, 38, was arrested on Dec. 1. Police are said to have taken her DNA, fingerprints, and photograph, and continue to retain her laptop and mobile phone, hindering her university studies months after her arrest, according to a Feb. 10 report by Breitbart.
Hertfordshire Police confirmed the arrest, telling the Mail on Sunday: “We take all reports of malicious communication seriously.”
A judge issued an injunction banning Scottow from referring to the trans activist, Stephanie Hayden, as a man or alluding to Hayden’s “former male identity.”
Scottow reportedly “deadnamed” (used her previous male name) Hayden during an argument on Twitter over whether trans people should be able to legally change gender through a simple self-identification process with little or no medical oversight.
In 2018, Hayden launched the UK’s first “deadnaming” case when she accused leftist comedy writer Graham Linehan of “deliberately misgendering” her.
Hayden, who is legally female, said Linehan “caused her distress” and that his actions constitute harassment, a misuse of private information, and were a “gross affront to her dignity as a woman.”
Hayden, a lawyer and current affairs commentator, began her medical transition to a woman in 2007. She was awarded her Gender Recognition Certificate in May 2018.
After Linehan had “deadnamed” her, Hayden said that “Anyone can now type my name into Google and it will tell them who I used to be. I can never recover from the publication of that knowledge and it would be absurd to try. … I am quite prepared to resort to the law if people cross the line.”
Lineham was given a verbal harassment warning by West Yorkshire police following the incident.
Hayden previously supported campaigns to remove billboards sporting the dictionary definition of a woman as an “adult human female” as offensive, and to force academics who dispute whether someone born male can really become a woman to step down from university positions, according to The Times.
In January of 2018, Breitbart reported that police in Northumbria had tracked down people who made “potentially criminal” posts about grooming gangs on the police force’s Facebook page.
The Northumbria police launched an investigation into comments left on its Facebook page in response to articles about the Operation Shelter scandal, in which young white British girls were groomed, sexually abused and trafficked by mostly Muslim men of South Asian descent in Newcastle, the report said.
ChronicleLive reported that the police tracked down six people responsible for posts “deemed to be offensive and potentially criminal.”
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “We would also like to take this opportunity to remind people using social media that they should do so responsibly and ensure they do not post anything which could be considered offensive.”
In 2016, 3,395 people were arrested in the UK for “offensive” online comments. The Times, via a Freedom of Information Act request, discovered that 29 police forces made arrests in 2016 under section 127 of the Communications Act of 2003, which makes it illegal to intentionally “cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another.”
The true figure is likely to be significantly higher, as 13 police forces refused to provide the requested information and two did not provide usable data.