The press is prioritising a criminal's feelings over women's safety
Accuracy is the cornerstone of journalism, especially when it comes to news reporting. If a man appeared in court, claiming to be a brain surgeon when he was actually a hospital porter, we wouldn’t expect a headline announcing ‘brain surgeon convicted of rape’. The same rule should apply to other obviously untrue claims.
Yesterday, at the High Court in Glasgow, a man was indeed convicted of rape — two rapes, in fact. He now calls himself Isla Bryson and ‘identifies’ as a woman, but until very recently his name was Adam Graham and he has not had surgery.
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The court case was a mess, with prosecutors referring to Bryson throughout as ‘she’ while describing typical male pattern offending. ‘She’ apparently preyed on vulnerable women ‘she’ met online, and it took a brave Conservative MSP, Russell Findlay, to point out the blindingly obvious. ‘Rapist Adam Graham decided he was no longer a man AFTER appearing in court on rape charges’, he tweeted.
At a time when it has become routine for male defendants to be referred to in court reports as ‘she’, such a high-profile case presented newspapers and websites with a stark dilemma. The judges’ bench book, which consists of guidance rather than law, says it is a matter of ‘common courtesy’ to use the personal pronoun and name that a person prefers. Many women and some lawyers, however, think it is ridiculous — and insulting to rape victims — to enforce a pretence that a male defendant is female.
So what did editors and journalists do? Most, I’m afraid, settled for cognitive dissonance. ‘Glasgow court convicts trans woman of raping two women before her transition’, declared the Guardian. The paper could not even bring itself to mention Bryson’s ‘dead name’ — the one he was known by when he attacked the women — and it was left to the victims to correctly describe the rapist as ‘he’.
The Times said that ‘Bryson’ committed the crimes before ‘her’ transition, while called Adam Graham, but used the pronoun ‘she’. Several papers, including the Telegraph, avoided the issue by using nouns throughout their reports. The Sun took a different tack, highlighting the ridiculousness of describing a rapist with female pronouns in its headline: ‘Transgender woman with Mike Tyson face tattoo GUILTY of raping two vulnerable mums with “her penis”’.
The state the courts have got themselves into by submitting to the demands of gender ideology is vividly illustrated by the judge’s remarks to the defendant in this case: “Ms Bryson, you have been convicted of two extremely serious charges, this being charges of rape”. A woman cannot be convicted of rape, which is an assault involving the use of a penis. In a bitter irony, the prosecutor described Bryson’s evidence as “entirely incredible and unreliable” — yet the court accepted his claim to be a woman.
No one who has seen pictures of Bryson arriving at court in skintight leggings believes that for a moment. Accepting his claim at face value has dire consequences, because it has been reported that he will be housed in a women’s prison while awaiting assessment, despite being convicted of violence against women.
Journalists should be calling out this nonsense, not going along with it. If editors feel it is being imposed on them by the justice system, why aren’t they campaigning against a blatant attack on press freedom? If it’s trans activists they’re afraid of, they need to get a backbone. Distrust of the media is widespread and this practice of ‘misgendering’ rapists is making it worse.