Robyn Browne murder trial: denials and misgendering continue

January 14, 2009

Via BBC News:

Man denies murdering transsexual

[…]

Cross examining him, Nicholas Hilliard QC, prosecuting, asked him about a letter he had sent while in custody to his then girlfriend, Donna Abbott, who had made a statement to police claiming he had confessed to her about the killing.

In the letter he had implored her to change her story and say he had not told her anything about the 1997 incident and wrote: “They have no proof I told you anything”.

Mr Hopkins denied he had been putting pressure on her but added: “This letter is the only thing I’m going to have trouble explaining. But I was in a terrible state at the time I wrote it.”

Mr Hilliard claimed he had “made up” his whole account and said: “The truth is you went to that flat on your own didn’t you?”

“No,” replied Mr Hopkins.

“You went into the bedroom and Mr Browne said make yourself comfortable…you took out a knife and stabbed that man to death,” accused Mr Hilliard.

Mr Hopkins replied: “Where did that knife come from? I never carried a knife in my life.”

But Mr Hilliard continued: “You stabbed him in the body and then as he lay on the bed you stabbed him in the back of the neck.”

“No,” he replied.

[…]

“You are guilty of his murder, aren’t you?” said Mr Hilliard.

“Guilty of making a lot of mistakes in my life maybe,” replied Mr Hopkins, “guilty of not ringing the emergency services and guilty of writing that letter but I have never been a violent man in my life.”

[…]

The trial continues.

Mr Hopkins continues to avoid answering the question of whether or not he stabbed Ms Browne.

Unfortunately the transphobic hate speech, manifested as the relentless misgendering of Ms Browne, is also still very much in evidence, unremarked and accepted by everyone concerned, it seems. Bad enough that both the prosecution and defendant use male pronouns when referring to Ms Browne, and I understand that the BBC is simply reporting their words verbatim. But it is not acceptable – indeed, it is downright offensive – for the reporter to perpetuate this insulting behaviour.

This paragraph is frankly disgraceful:

The 23-year-old, who was born James Errol Browne, had been having treatment for a sex change but had not had the final operation. He was found with nine stab wounds to the chest and neck in a flat in Soho, central London.

As I’ve said before, Ms Browne’s pre-transition status is of supreme irrelevance and the reporter’s misgendering nothing less than unacceptable. I find it hard to believe that the BBC does not have its own journalistic guidelines covering this sort of situation – the NLGA and GLAAD both have easy-to-follow guidelines and in the absence of anything similar in Britain, perhaps the journalist on the BBC (and the Yorkshire Evening Post, for that matter) could receive sensitivity training taking these as a starting point.

But somehow, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Ms Browne is not here to correct the misgendering. The case itself is distressing enough and this kind of hate speech merely adds insult to injury.

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5 Responses to “Robyn Browne murder trial: denials and misgendering continue”


  1. […] #4: Robyn Browne murder trial: denials and misgendering continue (Via […]


  2. I always hate the line “…was born as [name]” We are not born as a name, we had it given to us by others.

    Sarah

  3. Bob Says:

    We are all given names. We are also all given genders. Therefore to say someone was ‘born as’ is accurate. And despite what you say, Robyn Browne was always a man in every biological sense of the word. To deny biology is to deny yourself. To blame others for merely stating facts is your problem not theirs.

  4. Helen G Says:

    Bob: Please explain to me how you’ve arrived at your conclusions, preferably with links to your sources.

  5. queen emily Says:

    Oh Bob, thank you so much for having the sensitivity to post all that heartfelt concern about a murdered woman. You’re a diamond, no really. Now, onto what I shall very generously call your “argument.”

    “Given?” So what? Gifts can be returned and exchanged, especially if you never wanted the bloody thing in the first place. Or, shit, maybe you never got it in the first place, just a big IOU and a card from the State that says “ha, boo sucks to you.”

    Denying biology? How, particularly? Presumably you’re going by hormone levels, where after a few months of hormone treatment a trans woman’s estrogen levels are within normal hormone range. Or maybe by the numerous somatic effects of hormone therapy, like softer hair and a re-distribution of body fat into a feminine shape? Oh, that doesn’t fit your once-and-forever idea of biology. How inconvenient.

    I tell you what–you don’t get to state “facts” about the lives of transsexual women, and I don’t get to not call you an enormous pillock.

    You enormous pillock.


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