Wednesday, 25 January 2017

BBC Transgender Kids programme: the second salvo.

    After the BBC transgender kids documentary a few weeks ago I made a complaint, and received a standard cut-and-paste response that was breathtaking in its lack of saying anything other than they were blameless.
    Though it's likely to be a futile effort, I've made a response, which I've pasted below.
Your response to my earlier complaint did not even try to address the subject of the complaint, instead it was a content-free cut-and-paste form response full of meaningless platitudes and bogus half-truths.
You did not address my question as to why the programme failed completely to engage with the UK medical establishment. Perhaps it is because in the time since the broadcast the various medical bodies involved have come together and issued a statement condemning utterly the practices put forward in the programme, and you knew that they would not have supported the view you were trying to put forward.
You maintain the pretence that the programme presented a balanced argument, while in practice a simple analysis with a stopwatch reveals a huge time advantage to the views of Zucker and his supporters.
You justify the programme by saying that you had input from opponents of Zucker, and from families with transgender children. Why is it then that the activists and families involved are now saying that the producer of this programme misled them as to its content? Surely that is against whatever rules you are supposed to abide by.
Continuing to pretend that this programme was without fault is putting the BBC on the wrong side of history. Trying to ignore the objections of the transgender community will not make us go away and will not help you. We are the victims and survivors of abuse like that practiced by doctors such as the ones you featured, and we will not stand idly by and see it put onto a new generation. Transgender youth support organisations are already reporting an upsurge in hate incidents as a result of this programme, when the first young trans person has committed suicide because of it what are you going to say to the transgender community then? You can count on it, we won't let you get away with a cut-and-paste answer.
    These things are an exercise in postbag size and in capturing their resources. When they get a large number of complaints, they are forced to take notice, and the aim of our community was to make this one of the most complained about shows of the year. It is likely that my reply will be printed and filed, but will effectively go in the round file. However it's worth doing, because if enough of us follow suit it adds to that complaint volume figure and causes their complaints department to have to work extra hard. We'll see what the coming weeks and months bring on this front, the BBC can be rest assured they haven't seen the last of us.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Freight train

    I'm told that this is something that comes eventually to most of us in this sphere, the point at which your transition comes to a head and it hits you like a freight train that you need to move, and quickly. After a year or two settling down and reinventing myself following the turmoil of my first year after going full-time, it came to me. Going back seven years, losing the ability to sleep, hit again by wave after wave of dysphoria as though I was still hidden in the closet.

    Yes, it's taken a few months, but the anti-androgens have hit with a vengance. All the good stuff is accelerating, building on all the estradiol patches of the previous year or so with much nicer skin, less body hair and a pleasing resumption of breast growth. But I didn't expect to be hit in this way, and to be honest I'm rather embarrassed about it. I've always pursued a "Better slow and right than quick and wrong" approach to transition, and it has stood me in good stead. It's allowed me to build a successful life as a woman unencumbered by other considerations, and I strongly believe it's given me an advantage in that I have less baggage than some contemporaries I've observed.

    So I'd always taken a view that some time in the future when I was ready I'd go forward and talk to the medics about surgery, but there was no point in pushing it if things might go awry. I imagined it would probably be another year maybe, and I'd get on with my life. It therefore feels a little silly to be reduced to a gibbering eejit by it all, I didn't think I was like that!

    Normal service will be resumed. I've made an appointment to go back and talk about it all, then no doubt I'll see psychs and all sorts again before one day taking a trip to Brighton, or West London. It'll be a couple of years, plenty of time to regain my composure.

    I feel as though I have gone back a year or two though, I thought I'd mostly dealt with this kind of dysphoria. That's weird!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The BBC respond to the transgender kids complaint

   I've had a response to my complaint over the trans kids documentary. Well, when I say "response", I really mean "Cut and paste a pretty meaningless response which says in effect 'we did nothing wrong'.".
Thanks for contacting us regarding ‘Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?’ broadcast on the 12 January.

We understand you had concerns with the programme.

With a rise in the number of children being referred to gender clinics, this programme sensitively presented different views from experts and parents on gender dysphoria in children.
For more than thirty years Dr Kenneth Zucker ran Canada's biggest child gender clinic and was considered a recognised authority on childhood gender dysphoria until he lost his job. He believes he was fired for challenging the gender affirmative approach.

This documentary examined Zucker's methods, but it also included significant contributions from his critics and supporters of gender affirmation, including transgender activists in Canada and leading medical experts as well as parents with differing experiences of gender dysphoria and gender reassignment.

Thanks again for contacting us with your views.

Kind Regards

BBC Complaints Team
    I feel as though I'm repeating a trade union speech I gave at a Pride a couple of years ago when I say that we're the last minority they think they can legitimately have a go at. You can't take a pop at ethnic minorities any more, Jewish people are off limits, gay people can't be touched, and women are beyond reproach. But transgender people? Hey, yeah, come on and weigh in, nobody will touch you for that!

    It can't continue, we can't let it.

    Last Saturday I was lucky enough to see Helen Belcher from Trans Media Watch speak to Swindon Transgender Group. She covered several aspects of her work as both a trans campaigner and parliamentary candidate, but as you'd imagine the documentary occupied a significant proportion of the time. It's safe to say that the transgender community will not let this one rest at merely a meaningless email response, and that awkward questions will be asked and BBC executives will be held to account.

    When I say I may soon be spending an evening standing on a pavement in Central London, it's not what you think. Last time we had a demo on this theme, it got results.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Complaint to the BBC re Transgender Kids programme

    The BBC is a respected national broadcaster with a long record of balanced reporting and quality programming. If something comes up on the Beeb the chances are you can trust it, a reputation it has won over many decades of cherished independence from government through its unique trust status.

    Sadly though, even the BBC sometimes falls short of its usually impeccable standards. Yesterday they aired a programme: "Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?", which presented a very one-sided view of the treatment of transgender young people drawing largely from the input of the discredited Canadian Dr. Kenneth Zucker. I was not going to watch it because I thought it might be too triggery, but I decided this morning I had to catch it on iPlayer because sticking one's head in the sand is never the best option.

    It does not, I am afraid to say, make inspiring viewing. I saw a very one-sided portrayal of transgender medicine for young people which presented Zucker as an expert beyond reproach and failed completely to feature the professionals who work with young transgender people here in the United Kingdom. The BBC has failed, and they have done so badly.

    For what good it will do, I have submitted a complaint, which you can find below. If you saw the programme and found it objectionable I suggest you do the same, and if you haven't seen it and live in the UK I suggest you find it on iPlayer and give it a look. it's too important to ignore. Handy details about making a complaint have been collated by UK Trans Info if you wish to complain as well, perhaps we can make this one of those shows with so many complaints that the BBC have to make amends.

Here's the text of my complaint. Write your own, don't copy mine word-for-word.
This programme relied heavily on the input of Dr. Kenneth Zucker, a discredited doctor from Canada who was removed from his post due to his use of conversion therapy methods which caused untold damage to his patients. It presented him as a foremost expert in his field, which given that he has been so comprehensively discredited is hardly accurate today, and it glossed over the excesses of his clinic's work. 
It did not feature the providers of gender clinic services to trans children here in the UK such as the Tavistock Clinic, nor did it feature the work of support organisations who are active in the field such as Mermaids, Gendered Intelligence, or GIRES. The majority of the example patients featured in it were not from the UK, and the view it gave of how youngsters with gender dysphoria should be treated was in sharp contrast to either that of the professional bodies in the field, WPATH, or the NHS. 
It treated adult activists in the transgender community as dangerous meddlers in the treatment of others when in fact they are the survivors of exactly the kind of abuse that doctors like Zucker practice, and which the programme promoted. 
This programme was nothing short of an outright attack on a vulnerable and marginalised minority, and in particular on members of that minority who are too young to speak for themselves. Transgender people have a significantly higher incidence of suicide than the general population, and because of attitudes like those presented as mainstream by the programme that suicide figure is increased. People kill themselves because of the views the BBC is promoting with programmes like this one. 
The BBC should present an abject apology for this dangerous and objectionable piece of programming, and immediately take steps to rectify it by presenting the views of real experts in the field from the United Kingdom, who do not have episodes like Zucker's in their pasts.
Edit: This isn't the first time...