By: Sam Doak
July 19 2023
The individual did not state that misgendering is a crime, and no longer works as a police officer.
In recent days, a video has circulated widely on social media depicting an English police officer standing in front of branding associated with the Cheshire Constabulary.
In this video, the officer addresses the camera, stating “Today it is international pronouns day, which is a day particularly important to people that identify as transgender or gender non-conforming. Being misgendered can have a huge impact on somebody and their personal well-being. It also can be used as a form of abuse for somebody, and that just isn’t right. Today is about raising awareness, getting people to have conversations, and understanding why it is so important to understand the pronouns that somebody wishes to have used for them.”
While the speaker in this video does not say that misgendering people is illegal, this is how their remarks appear to have been interpreted by many social media users. One Twitter post, which garnered over 2,500 retweets and 5,200 likes, captioned the footage with the statement, “This Police Woman explaining the use of a wrong pronoun is a criminal offence…”
While some have taken this video as a sign that misgendering people is illegal in England, this is not the case.
The speaker in the video in question is Julie Cooke, who, at the time of filming, was a Deputy Chief Constable with the Cheshire police. A search for relevant news coverage and social media posts reveals that Cooke made these remarks in 2019 and retired from the police in 2021. As such, her statements should not be interpreted as unveiling any new policies.
Nowhere in this video does Julie Cooke say that misgendering people is a criminal offense. Currently, no law explicitly prohibits misgendering another person. According to the Crown Prosecution Service, an action may be investigated as a hate crime if “any incident/criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.” Under this criteria, intentionally misgendering someone through a continued harassment campaign or other criminal conduct could be deemed to fall into this category. Still, without this element, it is not a crime.
This video is from 2019. The individual is no longer a police officer, and at no point do they say that misgendering is a crime. Currently, no law in the United Kingdom makes misgendering a crime by itself. This claim has therefore been marked as false.