People cleared over sex-change story complaints

A police civilian worker who changed gender has failed in her complaints that The People invaded her privacy and harassed her.

The woman also claimed that the story, headlined “Girl cop has truncheon op to become a PC! … as male cop worker goes the other way and gets his own personal loo”, published on 6 October last year, was inaccurate and discriminatory. None of the complaints was upheld.

The article reported that, following complaints from staff about sharing a toilet with a colleague who had undergone gender reassignment surgery, the woman had been offered use of a separate lavatory. She denied this and claimed that publication of her photograph, employment details, name and partial address was intrusive.

She said her health had suffered because of the article and the manner in which she was asked to comment by the reporter. He approached her as she was getting into her car, saying he wanted to do a “sympathetic” piece on her, and continued to question her “despite being repeatedly asked to leave”. She contended the article would not have been published “had a transsexual not been involved”.

The newspaper said senior officers and employees confirmed The People’s version of the story. The reporter had apologised for bothering the woman, offered his contact details and left after she refused to comment. The article was not prejudicial or pejorative in relation to her transsexuality, said the newspaper, although it tagged its library system setting out the complainant’s objections to the article for future reference.

The PCC ruled that the consequences of the gender reassignment surgery were publicly apparent, the complainant’s details were not private and the paper’s reference to her gender was not prejudicial or pejorative. Also, it did not consider the reporter’s approach “persistent or intimidatory”.

The woman had been given an opportunity to correct any potential inaccuracies and further contact from the newspaper could have raised a potential breach of the harassment clause of the Code of Practice.

By Jean Morgan

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