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Disabled campaigner for women's rights is arrested for 'hate crime'

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A women’s rights campaigner who put up stickers and posters in Newport, Wales, has been arrested by police for ‘criminal damage’ and ‘abusive writing’ after people allegedly complained that her posters carried an ‘anti-transgender message’.

Jennifer Swayne, 53, was arrested on Sunday afternoon and detained until the early hours of the morning, while police officers executed a search warrant on her property and confiscated women’s rights stickers and a book containing a collection of critical essays about the theory and practice of transgendering children.

Some of the stickers and posters put up by Swayne carried feminist messages decrying violence against women, but others which bore phrases such as ‘no men in women’s prisons’ and ‘humans never change sex’ were reported as being offensive. 

Gwent police released a statement earlier this week alleging they had received complaints about the ‘offensive messages’ over a period of several months and that the posters contained ‘abusive writing likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress’.

Swayne meanwhile took to social media to argue that her messages were not anti-trans but pro-women and alleged that her ‘thinking was being investigated’ rather than her actions.

Fair Cop, an organisation which campaigns against the criminalisation of free speech, has since volunteered to support Swayne with any legal proceedings that arise, The Times reports.

Jennifer Swayne, 53, was arrested on Sunday afternoon and detained until the early hours of the morning, while police officers executed a search warrant on her property and confiscated women's rights stickers and a book containing a collection of critical essays about the theory and practice of transgendering children

Jennifer Swayne, 53, was arrested on Sunday afternoon and detained until the early hours of the morning, while police officers executed a search warrant on her property and confiscated women’s rights stickers and a book containing a collection of critical essays about the theory and practice of transgendering children

Swayne meanwhile took to social media to argue that her messages were not anti-trans but pro-women. She later alleged that her'thinking was being investigated' rather than her actions

Swayne meanwhile took to social media to argue that her messages were not anti-trans but pro-women. She later alleged that her ‘thinking was being investigated’ rather than her actions

Some of the stickers and posters put up by Swayne carried feminist messages decrying violence against women, but others which bore phrases such as'no men in women's prisons' and'humans never change sex' were reported as being offensive

Some of the stickers and posters put up by Swayne carried feminist messages decrying violence against women, but others which bore phrases such as ‘no men in women’s prisons’ and ‘humans never change sex’ were reported as being offensive

Fair Cop, an organisation which campaigns against the criminalisation of free speech, has since volunteered to support Swayne with any legal proceedings that arise

Fair Cop, an organisation which campaigns against the criminalisation of free speech, has since volunteered to support Swayne with any legal proceedings that arise

Book ‘seized’ in home of women’s right campaigner challenges medical definition of transgender children and suggests rise in young people questioning their gender is ‘due to politics, not science’  

Transgender Children and Young People: Born In Your Own Body, is a collection of essays which challenges the accepted medical definition of the transgender child as a young person whose true gender lies in the brain, or ‘pre-social identity.’ 

The book’s synopsis on Amazon says its contributors ‘contest this diagnosis from a range of social constructionist perspectives, including as social theorists, psychotherapists, persons living as transgender, individuals who regret having transitioned, and parents of adolescents identifying as transgender.’ 

In their writings, they controversially claim that the rise in the number of children being diagnosed as transgender by gender identity clinics is due to ‘politics, not science’. 

They claim there is an ongoing ‘medical and social trend’ of ‘transgendering children’ – which they believe is neither ‘liberal or progressive’, but ‘politically reactionary, physically and psychologically dangerous and abusive.’

The book is edited by Dr Heather Brunskell-Evans, a social theorist and philosopher with an interest in feminist philosophy and politics of the body. 

The academic of nearly three decades is a Visiting Research Fellow at Kings College London and is a Trustee of the charity FiLia, and co-ordinator of its Stop Violence against Women and Girls section. 

Some of the stickers and posters made by Swayne were emblazoned with phrases such as ‘no child is born in the wrong body, humans never change sex’, ‘Woman = Adult Human Female’ and ‘Are you happy for your 13-year-old daughter to shower next to an adult man, yes or no?’. 

Gwent police on Tuesday released a statement explaining the circumstances surrounding the arrest.

Superintendent Vicki Townsend said: ‘We’ve received several reports in relation to posters containing offensive material appearing in Newport between October and January.

‘Officers on patrol in Newport saw a woman spraying stickers to two lampposts.

‘A 53-year-old woman from Newport was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and displaying threatening or abusive writing likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.  

Police said they received six complaints of ‘offensive messages’ posted by Swayne on Sunday and were therefore compelled to investigate. 

Swayne meanwhile took to Twitter to rail against the police for the arrest and to refute claims that she had published ‘transphobic’ messages.

‘Yesterday Sunday 23rd/01/22 I was arrested for hate crime. Gwent police saw me as an exceptional threat to the T community by posting stickers and posters that did not mention T once. They were feminist in content and, I felt, pleasingly informative to women and concerned.’

Swayne, who suffers from bipolar disorder, went on to argue that the police’s decision to confiscate a book concerning transgendering children amounted to policing thoughts over actions. 

‘When my house was raided, it has come to my attention that a BOOK was taken by the police. A book edited by Heather Brunskell-Evans on GC children. It was crammed with my notes. MY THINKING IS BEING INVESTIGATED- not things, not materials, not actions my actual thinking.’

The book, ‘Transgender Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body’, is a collection of essays critiquing the theory and practice of transgendering children, edited by Dr Heather Brunskell-Evans. 

A social theorist and long-time women’s rights advocate, Brunskell-Evans has been critical of the rise of gender identity politics, particularly as it pertains to young adults and children. 

Swayne tweeted: 'When my house was raided, it has come to my attention that a BOOK was taken by the police. A book edited by Heather Brunskell-Evans on GC children. It was crammed with my notes. MY THINKING IS BEING INVESTIGATED- not things, not materials, not actions my actual thinking.' The book,'Transgender Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body', is a collection of essays critiquing the theory and practice of transgendering children, edited by Dr Heather Brunskell-Evans

Swayne tweeted: ‘When my house was raided, it has come to my attention that a BOOK was taken by the police. A book edited by Heather Brunskell-Evans on GC children. It was crammed with my notes. MY THINKING IS BEING INVESTIGATED- not things, not materials, not actions my actual thinking.’ The book, ‘Transgender Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body’, is a collection of essays critiquing the theory and practice of transgendering children, edited by Dr Heather Brunskell-Evans

Some of the stickers allegedly posted by Jennifer Swayne

Some of the stickers allegedly posted by Jennifer Swayne

Some social media users accused Swayne for being disingenuous about her social activism and said she was rightly arrested for her actions.

One user wrote: ‘I feel you’re being dishonest about the content and the implications you were making and policies you are doing activism around,’ while another simply commented: ‘So, you were arrested for vandalism.’

But many users leapt to Swayne’s defence and said the police had overstepped the mark. 

‘Is there no real crime going on in Gwent?,’ one user wrote. ‘How did they get a warrant to search your home? What on earth did they tell the magistrate you’d done? I’m absolutely gobsmacked by this, and raging on your behalf.’

Meanwhile, free speech organisation Fair Cop accused Gwent police of ‘unlawful interference’, and declared it would provide Swayne with legal aid in the case.

Fair Cop’s Harry Miller told The Times that the posters that Swayne put up around the Welsh town were a ‘political statement’ that did not come near the criminal threshold.

The organisation’s Twitter account addressed a message to Gwent police yesterday, declaring ‘we have our legal team in place. We will be setting up a donation platform in the next few days. In the meantime, we have paid costs and will be bringing our A Team. You picked on the wrong people.’

Swayne was released on conditional bail at 3:30am on Monday morning as investigations continue. 

She is the latest in a series of women and campaigners who have been labelled as ‘anti-trans’ after expressing their views or publishing works which challenge the status quo. 

It comes after Kathleen Stock, a former lecturer at the University of Sussex, was hounded off campus by the trans mob last year after the release of her book, Material Girls: Why Reality Matters For Feminism, which questioned the widely-held view that gender identity — whether you feel more male or female — is more important than biological sex in determining one’s gender. 

She was also criticised for publishing a number of blog posts in which she expressed concerns that most academics, including philosophers like herself, were reluctant to criticise campaigns to introduce ‘self-ID’ for transgender people. 

Meanwhile, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling continues to face criticism over her comments on trans issues. 

The 56-year-old first faced accusations of transphobia after she mocked an online article in June 2020 which used the words ‘people who menstruate’ instead of ‘women’.

Ms Swayne is the latest in a series of women and campaigners who have been labelled as'anti-trans' after expressing their views or publishing works which challenge the status quo, including Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling (pictured)

Ms Swayne is the latest in a series of women and campaigners who have been labelled as ‘anti-trans’ after expressing their views or publishing works which challenge the status quo, including Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling (pictured) 

She later defended herself against the claims in a passionate essay but has been criticised by some ever since.

In December she hit back at a claim on US website that she believed there are only two genders.

Rowling wrote: ‘Small but important point: I’ve never said there are only two genders. There are innumerable gender identities.

‘The question at the heart of this debate is whether sex or gender identity should form the basis of decisions on safeguarding, provision of services, sporting categories and other areas where women and girls currently have legal rights and protections.

‘Using the words ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ interchangeably obscures the central issue of this debate.

‘If you’re interested in what I actually said, see this – (in which I literally say ‘trans lives matter’ and ‘trans rights are human rights.’).

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