Journalistic standards are not something you put on and take off

Observer journalist Rowan Moore and offspring Felix Moore have a cover story in the Observer Review today on their personal “father and son story” and on “trans rights issues today”

The article accuses me of acting aggressively, and JK Rowling of misrepresenting my case. Those aren’t the only distortions the Observer has allowed the authors to indulge in.

They also also allow the authors to take an irresponsible approach to reporting on suicide:

FM: I cannot help but feel that every word wasted on manufactured debates could have been spent talking about the fact that trans people are being driven to a choice between self-medication and suicide.

The Samaritans say:

Speculation about the ‘trigger’ or cause of a suicide can oversimplify the issue and should be avoided. Suicide is extremely complex and most of the time there is no single event or factor that leads someone to take their own life.

FM: “Anti-trans groups and individuals will turn something banal into a manufactured point of outrage, such as questions in the census”

This concerns the case of Fair Play for Women v Office for National Statistics over the interpretation of the Census Act 1920, under which the government has power to conduct the census. Fair Play for Women, is of course not an “anti-trans group” and the judge, Mr Justice Swift did not view the question as a manufactured point of outrage.

He judged that Fair Play for Women had a “strongly arguable case” and was “more likely than not to succeed” regarding the legal meaning of sex as defined in the legislation.

FM: “pregnant person” — the standard language since 2007 — in the new Maternity Act

This concerns the policy that was brought in in 2007 to use “gender neutral language” wherever it is not relevant whether a particular job or role is performed by someone male or female (Sex Matters has a briefing on this).

This means avoiding using words such as “chairman” when talking about someone who can chair a committee, not avoiding using words like “woman” and “mother” when referring to someone who can get pregnant or who has given birth.

“Pregnant person” is not standard language in legislation

“Pregnant woman” is

The guidance on drafting says to “use the most familiar words” and “use precise and concrete words rather than vague and abstract words”.

“Pregnant woman” remains a familiar concept. “Pregnant person” is not.

Lord Pannick QC, speaking during the debate on the MOMA Bill Parliament says the law has often referred to the person who gives birth to a child as a woman and, indeed, a mother.

As Lord Pannick said:

I do not think that there are any legal difficulties in referring to mothers or women in the Bill. The mother of Parliaments, in doing that, would be showing no disrespect to trans men.

RM: JK Rowling misrepresents the Forstater case

Moore Senior says there is not enough space to point out “all the times [JK Rowling] seems to misrepresent contentious issues such as the Forstater case”.

Lets look at what JK Rowling has said about my case. There was the tweet

And there was this in her essay.

Thats it. That is all she has ever said on my case. So if there is any problem showing that she has misrepresented it, it can’t be for lack of space.

Rowan Moore in the Observer on the other hand does misrepresent my case. He says I repeatedly proclaimed on social media the “truths” that “it is not possible for someone who is male to become female” and that “transwomen are men”.

I do not disagree with these statements, but nor did I “repeatedly proclaim them” them on social media.

Call me pedantic, but I think that when a national newspaper says that a person did something they should check that they did.

He appears to relate me losing my job to an article I tweeted, saying “Forstater has strongly endorsed an article that compared transgender people’s use of pronouns to the date rape drug Rohypnol".

Here is the tweet in which I linked to the article (which was after I lost my job — so how he thinks this is example of JK Rowling misrepresenting the reason why I lost my job I do not know).

And here is the article. The article is not about “transgender people’s use of pronouns” — it is about the social norm that other people must comply with the demand to use non sex based pronouns, and the psychological impact to themselves, and to others, of compliance.

Moore says it relates “individuals’ desire to assert their identity to sexual violence.”

I don’t think it does that at all. I suggest you read it. The Observer would prefer you didn’t, since they don’t give a link to it.

Moore Senior’s knockout point that JK Rowling misrepresented my case is that he says the basis of the tribunal’s ruling was that I “aggressively denied the identities of people with whom she might have to work”.

This is not wording from the judgment, but is entirely an invention by Mr Moore Snr in order to try to discredit JK Rowling.

I am not aggressive. I have not been aggressive to any colleagues or potential colleagues. I have not “aggressively denied anyone’s identity”. I just don’t think the idea of gender identity overrides sex.

I have complained to the Observer about this. I don’t know if they will apologise.

The appeal on my case is being heard on April 27 and 28. You can support the case here and follow SexMattersOrg on twitter for live tweets on the day.

This is mainly where I write about sex and gender