UK: Police Threaten To Investigate Social Media Users For “Hate Speech” After They Point Out Missing Transgender Person Is Male

Natasha Biase

Police in Bromley, England, are being mocked after threatening to investigate social media users who were misgendering a missing trans-identified male. Last week, the force took to X to stress that it “takes hate speech very seriously.”

The announcement came one day after the Bromley Police issued an announcement expressing concerns about the wellbeing and safety of a 5 ft 6 trans-identified male named “Sarah” who had gone missing. In the description, the police force referred to “Sarah” using feminine pronouns.

Although comments were disabled, the post was met with immense mockery from users who were bewildered that the police had given inaccurate information about the description of a missing person.

A number of parody posts quickly emerged, with users quoting Bromley Police with outrageous photos.

“This cat, Sarah, is missing from Bromley. She was last seen on 13/04/2024 and we are concerned for her. She is 7ft long and of scaly build. If you have any information, please ring 101 and quote P155/TAK3,” joked one gender-critical X user by the handle @MeMyselfOnline, attaching a photo of a crocodile to his post.

Others, such as Serena Partrick, pointed to the disturbing trend of police addressing males as women, referencing a photo shared by the Toronto Police Department in Canada referring to a bearded man as a “missing woman.”

The enthusiastic response to the post prompted the Bromley Police to issue an update denouncing the replies as “unhelpful” and threatening to punish anyone who continues to speak “hatefully.”

“Sarah is a vulnerable person and we have circulated this picture to help us find her, the comments circulating have been offensive and unhelpful,” reads the update. “The Metropolitan Police take hate speech very seriously and anyone perpetuating it will be dealt with accordingly.”

Despite threatening consequences for misgendering “Sarah” the comments were flooded with people outraged that the police would prioritize inclusivity over finding him.

“You are confusing the public and putting this man’s life at risk,” responded commentator Graham Linehan.

“If this man is truly vulnerable it’s extraordinarily unhelpful to use inaccurate descriptions. Do grow up Police, it’s embarrassing,” added gender-critical activist Kellie-Jay Keen.

Others, such as political commentator Caroline Farrow, noted that the police’s statements only further called attention to the fact that Sarah is not a woman.

“You do realise that this post has only further highlighted that Sarah is a man as well as your own incompetence and rank stupidity. Threatening the public with hate speech for pointing out basic facts further undermines public trust in the police when it’s at an all-time low.”

Sarah was last seen on April 13 and is suspected to have ties to the town of Bexley. Aside from listing his height and describing him as having a “slim build,” no additional details have been provided about him by authorities.

This is not the first time a police service in the UK has come under criticism for scolding social media users about misgendering trans-identified males.

In a more egregious example from 2022, Sussex Police defended the chosen pronouns of a serial rapist who had been convicted for sexually abusing multiple children.

John Robert Dixon, 58, carried out abuse against five girls and two boys from 1989 to 1996, the youngest victim being 7 years old at the time. In 2004, Dixon began identifying as a woman named Sally Anne.

In issuing a case status update following Dixon’s conviction, Sussex Police referred to him as a “woman,” and used feminine pronouns for him. This led to widespread backlash on social media from those who accused police of recording the crime inaccurately.

 Sussex Police then began responding to people frustrated with the lack of accurate information in the update, issuing a scolding reply to at least three Twitter users in which they condemned “hateful comments” towards Dixon’s gender identity.

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