Apology for blogger whose gender comments led to call from police
- Credit: Margaret Nelson
Police have apologised for their handling of a complaint about a Suffolk woman’s online comments on gender.
The constabulary became involved in row over freedom of speech and accusations of transphobia after asking Margaret Nelson to “tone down” her web posts.
Mrs Nelson said the incident had not changed her stance on reforming the Gender Recognition Act, which would require no medical evidence for people to legally change identity, and which she believes could be exploited to the detriment of women.
Mrs Nelson, of Ipswich, a former humanist celebrant whose ‘Dead Interesting’ blog carried the original post last January, said she received a phone call on Monday morning from police, warning that her comments, and some of her Tweets, had caused offence.
The 74-year-old said she was “stalked all the time” online by trans activists but that she would not change the tone of her Tweets, which included one saying: ‘Gender is BS. Pass it on’.
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“As far as I’m concerned, I’m just stating facts,” she said.
“It won’t stop me from doing so.
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“I received a warning that I had upset people and asking me to tone things down. I’ve since received a phone call apologising and saying police got it wrong.”
However Jacquie Russell, service manager for Outhouse East, which offers support and information to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in nearby Essex, said police had a right to intervene if it was felt the posts were causing offence.
“People are able to have their opinions but they need to be mindful of the people they are having opinions about,” she said.
Mrs Nelson said she was not the first person to be contacted for similar allegations, referring to an investigation by Humberside Police into a report of hate crime after a man called Harry Miller ‘liked’ a limerick which appeared to ridicule transgender people.
“It’s not an isolated incident,” she added.
“Transgender activists take exception to any scrutiny or suggestion that trans men aren’t women. Changing the Act is a much more complicated issue than they make out.”
Mrs Nelson called suggestions of transphobia “nonsense”, adding: “A lot of people equate any such comment to homophobia. It’s entirely different and perfectly reasonable to scrutinise the implications of how adopting this law affects women.”
Suffolk police responded to the incident on Twitter, saying: “We accept we made a misjudgment in following up the complaint.
“As a result of this, we will be reviewing our procedures for dealing with such matters.
“We are sorry for any distress we may have caused in the way this issue was dealt with, and have been in contact with the woman who wrote the blog to apologise.”