The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has sparked renewed outrage after introducing unclear guidelines that suggest parents may be deemed abusive if they fail to use their child’s “preferred pronouns.”
According to a section of the guidelines titled Annex D of the Crown Prosecution Services’ Legal Guidance, Domestic Abuse, “gender identity is not the same as anatomical sex.” Continuing, it explains that because transgender people have a gender identity that is “different to that which they were assigned at birth” they may be “subjected to unique forms of domestic abuse linked to their trans or non-binary identity.”
Despite its controversial additions to the guidelines, CPS also admits that Annex D uses partisan language and does not consider the views of those who are critical of gender ideology — views that are considered protected in the United Kingdom after the landmark Forstater ruling.
“This expresses a partisan stance in relation to current debates about the law’s approach to the categories of sex and “gender identity”, which takes no account of the existence of gender-critical beliefs. This stance is reflected in some aspects of the understanding of domestic abuse which is set out in the guidance.”
Listing some examples of how trans and non-binary people may be “abused” by intimate partners or family members, including refusing to use their preferred name or pronouns, the guidelines state that while the examples are not criminal offenses, they do imply that family members and partners are still under the threat of criminal penalties if they fail to support a transitioning family member.
News of CPS’s new guidelines sparked widespread outrage on social media, with many noting that being forced to respect an individual’s pronouns constituted compelled speech.
Last summer, CPS found itself in the midst of a similar controversy after introducing a guideline that labeled family members who withhold money for a person’s gender transition as abusive.
According to Jeremiah Igunnubole, a lawyer for Alliance Defending Freedom UK, “the new rules will put the police force and government officers in the intensely difficult and inappropriate position of making politicized judgements against parents.”
Additionally, Igunnubole pointed out that because it is not legally obligated for parents to use their child’s preferred pronouns, the added guidance will “only further confuse the public and prosecutors.”
“This is the latest misstep in a trend towards guidance which fails to give adequate weight to fundamental freedoms of speech, of conscience, of religion and more,” he said.
Reportedly, in response to the backlash, CPS plans to review its advice so prosecutors are properly equipped to understand “the lasting impact domestic abuse can have.”