Some Homework For You, Possibly Urgent

[CONTENT WARNING: transphobia, sexual assault, the BBC]

If you haven’t been following along with the BBC’s latest transphobic misstep, and Abe can give you the background.

Since they wrote their posts, the BBC has not covered itself in glory. The BBC edited the article to remove any reference to the person calling for the mass extermination of all transgender people, which is a great step, but along the way they’ve either dismissed any responsibility on their side or diminished the harm they’ve done to transgender people. Shaun goes into greater details here, in a follow-up to an earlier video on the original controversy.

That follow-up video mentions two key facts, though. The BBC keeps dodging people’s questions, sending out one of two blanket responses depending on what you wrote the first time around. This has left many people dissatisfied, obviously, so Shaun suggests that if you file a complaint with the BBC you be as narrowly targeted as possible.

Incidentally, did you know that you don’t have to be a Brit to file a complaint with the BBC? The appropriate form is right here. I had intended to file one myself back in the day, but Shaun’s follow-up added a second fact to the pile: the BBC only accepts complaints within 30 working days of the publication date. For that transphobic BBC article, Shaun states that gives you a deadline of Monday, December 6th to submit a complaint, unless you’ve already done so. If like me you intended to write a complaint about that article, now’s the time to do it.

If you have already submitted a complaint, use this opportunity to review the response. Are you satisfied with what the BBC had to say? If so, good; put the issue out of mind and focus on other things. If not, then you have the option to complain about the complaint. If the response to that still doesn’t satisfy you, you have the option of escalating to Ofcom, a government body responsible for dealing with complaints about the BBC.

As my absence suggests, I’ve been quite busy lately. But I’m happy to take some time off work to help out a worthy cause, and combating transphobia is very worthy. Here, just before deadline, is an enhanced version of what I wrote to the Beeb:


My complaint is aimed specifically at the promotion of the group “Get the L Out.” In the article, they’re presented as a reasonable activist group concerned with the advancement and safety of lesbians.

Hearing about experiences like these led one lesbian activist to begin researching the topic. Angela C. Wild is co-founder of Get The L Out, whose members believe the rights of lesbians are being ignored by much of the current LGBT movement.

She and her fellow activists have demonstrated at Pride marches in the UK, where they have faced opposition. Pride in London accused the group of “bigotry, ignorance and hate”.

“Lesbians are still extremely scared to speak because they think they won’t be believed, because the trans ideology is so silencing everywhere,” she said.

Angela created a questionnaire for lesbians and distributed it via social media, then published the results.

If I click on the link in your article to their survey, though, I read this quote:

“All transsexuals rape women’s bodies by reducing the real female form to an artefact, appropriating this body for themselves.” (Raymond. 1995: 104)

Accusing a minority group of sexual assault is a common trope used to justify hatred and violence towards black and gay people. Including this quote could be justified if “Get the L Out” were critiquing it, but on the contrary they write:

When Raymond explained that transsexuals rape women’s bodies, did she foresee that today those rapes would leave the symbolic to become an embodied reality for the lesbians who do not manage to escape the queer narrative? Despite it being written more than 20 years ago, Raymond’s analysis remains as relevant as ever precisely because nowadays males who call themselves lesbians do not typically have castrative surgery (Reed, 2015).

A core belief of this group is that all transgender people are rapists. Not just in a metaphorical sense, either, the mention of “castrative surgery” makes it clear they mean this literally.

A core belief of the BBC is that neutrality has limits. Your guidance states “opposition to racism is a fundamental democratic principle, reflected, for example, in the fact that incitement to racial hatred is a criminal offence in the UK.” You would not tolerate promoting a group which believed all black men were rapists. And yet you are happy to give a platform to a group stating all transgender people are rapists. Is this because, on a policy level, the BBC does not believe transgender people exist as a group, and therefore cannot be a target for hatred, or does sufficient evidence exist to assert all transgender people are rapists? If the latter, can you provide citations?


Incidentally, that citation to Reed (2015) is a good example of the bullshit TERFs pull. If you follow the link you find a) it actually argues for better medical access for transgender people and reduced discrimination against them, and b) it says nothing about “castrative surgery” for transgender women. This seems to be the passage “Get The L Out” are referring to:

These figures indicate that about 1% of the UK population, some 650,000 people, are likely to be gender incongruent to some degree. So far, only about 30,000 have sought medical help for gender dysphoria. Dutch research indicates that around a fifth of the 650,000 will do so, amounting to a further 100,000 people.

First of all, I thought “transgender” meant “not identifying with the sex you were assigned at birth.” You do not have to have surgery to be considered transgender, and yet here’s “Get The L Out” promoting a gross sort of “gold-star transgenderism.” Second of all, they don’t consider why rates of surgery are so low. Is it because few transgender people need it, or could it be because of what’s in the very next paragraph?

Currently, referrals to NHS Gender Identity Clinics (GIC) are rising at 20% per annum; in the child and adolescent services (Tavistock gender identity development service) annual referrals are now doubling, and predicted to be 1200 in 2016. Recent reports indicate waiting times of 2-3 years for access to some of the adult clinics. The waiting time for genital surgery for trans women is 22 months; without additional services being commissioned, the predicted waiting time is 42 months by 2017 (NHS England).

Read through the citation, and you’ll see Britain’s NHS throws significant hurdles at transgender people’s access to medical care.

Those who seek treatment at a later stage of pubertal development need urgent intervention, but it takes 4 ½ months to access the clinic; assessments take 6 months; hormones are only prescribed after 12 months of hormone-blocking, and never before 16. Even when eligible for hormones, the young person has a further 6 months of assessment by the endocrinology service. That amounts to a 28 ½ month wait for treatment. By contrast, the Harvard Medical School can, when appropriate, get a young person onto hormones within a week. In the UK transfer to adult services can occur from the 17th birthday. Consequently, hormones may not be prescribed at the time of transfer. Assessments are then repeated unnecessarily over many months; there is no clinical justification for this.

Make it difficult for transgender people to access medical care if they want it, then use the resulting low rates of medical care to argue transgender people aren’t really transgender. It’s bigotry justifying bigotry, by selectively quoting legitimate research!