Press Council rules against Miranda Devine’s ‘mutilating our children’ transgender column

Miranda Devine’s campaign against the “social fad” of “transgenderism in children” has been dealt a blow, with the watchdog ruling her article and podcast were inaccurate and misleading.

In 2017, Devine penned an article titled ‘What madness can justify mutilating our children?

Devine’s claims of ‘no evidence’ were not sufficient

This was followed up by a podcast in 2018 titled ‘Ryan T. Anderson joins Miranda Devine live on gender identity’.

Despite Devine’s column being classed as opinion, the Press Council noted it also contained material presented as facts, including claims such as: “[There is] no evidence that changing sex will reduce the incidence of self-harm or suicide to lessen the impact of other associated mental states such as depression or autism”.

The podcast included similar claims: “[There is] no evidence that these hormones are safe to be used on kids, no evidence of any reduction on self-harm or suicide”.

The press watchdog ruled that “no evidence” was inaccurate and misleading, and should have been qualified with further statements.

“The Council noted that the publication did not rely on any particular medical article as supporting a statement that there was ‘no evidence’,” said the ruling published in yesterday’s edition of The Daily Telegraph.

“The Council considered that, given the existence of medical guidelines which recommend various treatments and procedures to assist transitioning children and adolescents, the statement that there was ‘no evidence’ was made in such absolute terms that it was inaccurate and misleading.”

The Press Council ruled The Daily Telegraph had breached General Principles one and three.

The ruling as it appeared in The Daily Telegraph (Click to enlarge)

General Principle one falls under accuracy and clarity, and states publications must: “Ensure that factual material in news reports and elsewhere is accurate and not misleading, and is distinguishable from other material such as opinion.”

General Principle three relates to fairness and balance and requires publications to: “Ensure that factual material is presented with reasonable fairness and balance, and that writers’ expressions of opinion are not based on significantly inaccurate factual material or omission of key facts.”

Devine’s use of the phrases “mutilation”, “child surgical abuse” and “monstrous assault on their developing bodies”, however, were deemed okay by the press watchdog, which ruled that there is public interest in vigorous public debate about the issue.

Despite conceding Devine’s strong language could cause substantial distress, offence and prejudice, the watchdog ruled it was “justified” due to the public interest.


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