Police are investigating whether a crime was committed when a journalist allegedly called a transgender woman a man on Twitter.
Caroline Farrow said she has been told by Surrey Police that they “want to conduct a taped interview under caution” because of posts she made on social media in October.
The comments were made online after she appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain alongside Susie Green, whose daughter Jackie is transgender, to discuss the Girl Guides’ decision to let children who have changed their gender join.
Ms Farrow tweeted on Tuesday that the police decision to investigate is an “outrage”, adding: “I can’t sleep I am so furious.”
Ms Green, founder of transgender support charity Mermaids, said the reason she made the complaint was due to the overall context of the tweets, not solely because of the misgendering of her daughter.
She told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme: “It’s not just the misgendering, it’s actually the context that she puts it into, and that she calls me a child abuser.
“She constantly refers to my daughter as a boy but that’s not… the key issues in here weren’t those. It was the really damaging things that she said about me and my actions that made me decide that this was an appropriate course of action.”
I have pointed out to the police that I am a Catholic journalist/commentator and it is my religious belief that a person cannot change sex. That we are in the middle of a national conversation about what it means to be male and what it means to be female.
— Caroline Farrow (@CF_Farrow) March 18, 2019
Ms Green said she withdrew her complaint on Tuesday, partly because she did not want Ms Farrow to continue to have a platform on the issue and to stop the “constant referencing of herself as a victim when in actual fact she’s used her platform to deliberately go after myself and my daughter”.
A statement on the Mermaids website on Wednesday afternoon included pictures of the tweets in question and said the contents of the posts were “a lot more serious than about misgendering”, adding: “They were allegations of serious misconduct and vile and spiteful personal attacks.”
Ms Farrow said: “I don’t even remember said tweets! I probably said ‘he’ or ‘son’ or something.
“All I have been told is that following an appearance on Good Morning Britain I made some tweets misgendering Susie Green’s child and that I need to attend a taped interview.
“I have pointed out to police that I am a Catholic journalist/commentator and it is my religious belief that a person cannot change sex.”
Ms Farrow added that she would “happily do jail time” for her “right to say that people cannot change sex”.
She said she had been “overwhelmed by the support” she has received over the incident, adding: “Thank-you.”
— Mermaids 🧜🏻♀️ (@Mermaids_Gender) March 20, 2019
Ms Farrow argued she had done nothing wrong and the mistake was “inadvertent and Freudian” because she tries “really hard not to misgender people”.
A police spokesman said: “A thorough investigation is being carried out to establish whether any criminal offences have taken place.
“We received an allegation on October 25, 2018 in relation to a number of tweets which were posted in October 2018.
“A 44-year-old woman has been asked to attend a voluntary interview in relation to the allegation as part of our ongoing investigation.
“We have been made aware that a number of allegations have since been made on Twitter and we will be making contact with the person concerned in relation to these posts.”
Police said that for a complaint to be dropped, a withdrawal statement must be made and it is understood that has not yet happened in this case.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said in November that forces should focus their resources on tackling violence over other types of crime.
Asked if she believes alleged hate crime is an urgent life-or-death matter, Ms Green told the BBC: “I don’t think that any hate should stand and I also think that the damage done by online communications is absolutely immense.
“And to say that this is not as important as other things – well, the police need to make those decisions, the CPS make those decisions, I don’t.
“What I did was followed through because I found something deeply upsetting.
“I know that my daughter sees these things and she finds them deeply upsetting and, as an organisation that stands up for a minority that is constantly targeted by this kind of abuse, I felt that I had to do something.”