Don’t out anyone

Should it be a criminal offence to out someone? It is, in the UK, subject to an unlimited fine, in certain circumstances.

Certain people who are aware that someone has applied for a gender recognition certificate should not tell anyone. If someone has a GRC, certain people should not disclose information about their previous gender. Note, it is not everyone who has transitioned, just people who have a GRC, which now may be about 12% of all who have transitioned.

Who? Employees of the State or local authorities, or of voluntary organisations; employers and colleagues, or prospective employers and colleagues. Then, anyone who finds out “in the course of or otherwise in connection with the conduct of business or the supply of professional services”. It is OK if the trans person consents.

So anyone involved with the claim can’t disclose it. Quite right too. And we should be able to get a job without anyone saying we are trans.

No-one has been prosecuted for this offence. Possibly, making it an offence contributes to the social understanding that outing people is wrong: though we both know a certain person is trans, a friend was embarrassed to mention her name to me as a trans woman, rather than as a person, woman, Quaker, whatever.

The people I would like prosecuted are journalists who comment on someone’s trans status. Journalists are acting in the course of their employment when they find that someone is trans, so should fit within the Act. They should not out someone unless it is clearly in the public interest. Victims of sexual offences are granted anonymity under the law, and so should trans people be. My gender change is no-one’s business but my own.

However, people may out a trans person maliciously. So, it should be a hate crime to out someone with the intention that the trans person suffers any harm, or recklessly when the revelation results in harm to the trans person.

10 thoughts on “Don’t out anyone

  1. I had no idea that there was such legislation in the UK Clare, so thanks. that’s reassuring to know. That doesn’t stop the gutter press from doing what they do and don’t get me started on that sort of thing. Prosecuting them is the only way they will ever learn, but it’s the hurt caused on the way that is the problem! I know that there might be a legal process from which some compensation and consolation can be gathered but it would need to be considerable to outweigh the pain and anguish suffered in the interim.


    • It is not really aimed at the press, but at anyone involved in the legal process for gender change, the civil service’s interactions with a trans person after transition, or employers during and after transition. And it is only for binary transitioners, who are the only ones protected atm. It does not end in compensation, but in a fine for the wrongdoer.

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