Force defends Trans ambassador after online ridicule

Sussex Police has defended one of its officers after he was subjected to “malicious and personal” attacks for his views on ‘feminine care’ supermarket signs.

Aug 16, 2017

Sussex Police has defended one of its officers after he was subjected to “malicious and personal” attacks for his views on ‘feminine care’ supermarket signs. Sergeant Peter Allan was labelled “an embarrassment to the service” after Tweets he posted about shops’ labelling of tampons and sanitary towels last year recently surfaced. Sgt Allan, who leads on hate crime for the force and volunteers as a Trans equality advocate, had objected to the use of the phrase “feminine care” as he said men may also use the products. He told the supermarket the sign should be updated to read “personal hygiene” to make them gender neutral. The force explained his actions were an attempt to draw attention to difficult issues of gender identity, and criticised the “malicious and personal” abuse. A spokesperson said: “Social media is a very important tool in engaging with all of the communities that we serve and we trust our officers and staff to act in the best interests of the public. “Running a social media account is voluntary and we recognise that this was a genuine attempt by Peter to highlight a difficult aspect of his work, which demonstrated how polarising these issues can be.” The original Tweets were uploaded last August but sparked criticism when they were covered in the media following recent Pride events. In one post, Sgt Allan wrote: “@tesco #FAIL Need to update. Especially with products 4 men on shelf. ‘Personal Hygiene’ perhaps.” He contacted Sainsbury’s over the same issue, and recently condemned Marks and Spencer’s gendered toilet door signs as something that should “not be happening in 2017”. Twitter users ridiculed him as “Britain’s most PC PC” and “not representative of the Police service across the country”. However, others thanked him for showing that policing takes transgender issues seriously and for trying to raise awareness. Sue Marsh wrote: “The emerging trans debate is new and raw. But so were all debates at first. Someone has to be first, someone has to lead the way. “They’re rarely thanked for their efforts and often vilified, but personally, I was proud to see Sussex leading the way.” Alan Michael said: “Regardless of your views, this highlights an officer’s understanding and awareness of the extremely diverse community Sussex Police serves. Well done to Sgt Allan and those that support him.” Sgt Allan has since deleted his Twitter account. Spokespeople for the supermarkets have thanked Sgt Allan for his feedback and claimed they “regularly review” store signage to ensure they meet customers’ needs. Sgt Allan said: “I appreciate some Trans-related issues are not widely understood in society and attempting to demystify and increase awareness in a social media post is a challenge. “If nothing else, the discussion these posts (up to a year old) have created has certainly done that.”

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