Stop lying about the sex of suspected murderers

A man alleged to have killed his husband with a samurai sword should not be treated as a woman.

Jo Bartosch

Jo Bartosch

Topics Identity Politics UK

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Last week, the BBC News website informed readers about a shocking alleged murder. A 70-year-old Brighton woman appeared in court, it reported, on suspicion of hacking her 70-year-old husband to death with a samurai sword. Local outlets, Brighton and Hove News and the Argus, also covered the story of the allegedly homicidal granny.

All of these outlets have fundamentally misled their readers. The suspect, Joanna Rowland-Stuart, is a man. His late husband, Andrew Rowland-Stuart, was also a man.

While the BBC and local journalists fell over themselves trying not to ‘misgender’ the alleged murderer, internet sleuths took the time to dig into the history of the couple and to uncover the facts. The Gender Critical Woman blog revealed that prior to his retirement, Joanna Rowland-Stuart worked as an equality and diversity manager for Sussex Learning and Skills Council in Brighton. He was active in the local trans community and appeared at events alongside the Sussex Police and the Brighton Kemptown MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle.

For a while, former trucker Andrew Rowland-Stuart also claimed to be a woman and went by the name ‘Angie’. At the time of their marriage in 2006, the couple identified as ‘lesbians’, although Andrew appears to have subsequently desisted from his trans identity.

Looking at Joanna Rowland-Stuart’s activities in Brighton, it’s fair to say he was up to his moobs in the diversity, equity and inclusion industry. Somewhat ironically, given the crime he is alleged to have committed, he was a representative of the LGBT Community Safety Forum, advising the public bodies on matters of inclusion and hate crime. Fellow spiked contributor Malcolm Clark has unearthed footage of him making the case for ‘safe spaces’ at Pride parades.

Naturally, in part thanks to Rowland-Stuart’s own trans activism, the officers responsible for questioning him have received training on how to avoid ‘misgendering’ and offending the feelings of cross-dressers. Notably, in the Sussex Police press release following his arrest and detention, no mention was made of his male sex, nor even of his transgender identity. Just as with the mainstream press, the police referred to this apparently dangerous man according to his own wishes – that is, as a woman, without any qualifications.

This is not just a story about the sad death of one man allegedly at the hands of another. It is a story about transparency, honesty and trust. In referring to Joanna Rowland-Stuart as a woman, both journalists and Sussex Police have let the public down. At a time when there is a crisis of confidence in the police and in the mainstream media, securing public trust should be top of their agenda. Instead, the desires of cross-dressers are championed above accuracy and objectivity.

Accommodating an individual’s preferred pronouns might sometimes seem like the ‘polite’ thing to do. Certainly, given the ferocity of trans activists, it can seem like the easiest option. Anyone who refuses to play along with a man’s fantasy of being the opposite sex can face severe professional and social consequences. The fiction of transgenderism has now been written into the style guides referred to by journalists, the training disseminated to police forces and indeed even the documents referred to in court. But the use of preferred pronouns in cases like this is not consequence-free at all. When the media and public bodies refer to Joanna Rowland-Stuart as if he were a woman, they violate the public’s trust.

If an individual wants to lie to themselves about their sex, that is up to them. But neither journalists nor the police should be expected to collude in that lie. In propagating the fiction that Joanna Rowland-Stuart is a woman, those with a responsibility to tell the truth and uphold the law have let us all down.

Jo Bartosch is a journalist campaigning for the rights of women and girls.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Identity Politics UK


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