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.


  1. I have not even had the empty worthless reply! The Belligerent Broadcasting Company are living up to their name.

  2. I've just submitted a complaint so look forward to receiving my standard reply.
    I recorded it and it took me a few days to get around to watch it. All the comments about it left me very wary about what I was going to see and hear.
    My initial reaction while watching it was that it wasn't too bad, and that is where the danger lay. The tone seemed reasonable and they had people from both sides of the argument. Anyone that didn't have any knowledge of the issue would have simply taken it all in and probably felt Zucker was hard done by.
    It wasn't until you looked at the programme in more detail that all of the issues and the clear bias of the BBC came out.
    I almost think that there should have been a disclaimer at the start of the programme indicating that it was an advert or promotional material for Dr Zucker and the anti-trans brigade.

  3. Evening both,
    It's got to be worth a try, to keep at it with the complaints. Coline, the fact you've not received your follow-up tells me they've good a huge backlog. Good. :)
    We want this one to be a we-won't-do-this-again moment for the Beeb. There must have been a similar one years ago for people of colour, or gay people, you'd think they'd have got the message by now. And when we're sorted, we have to be ready to be out on the side of whichever marginalised group is picked on next.
    Quite exercised by this one, as you can see.

  4. I received the standard reply yesterday so it looks like they are just firing them out when they get a complaint about the programme. The reply missed out on some of the points I made so I've just sent in a second complaint but changed the reason to Offence and reiterated the point that using footage of drag queens a number of times throughout the programme was, I found, offensive because of the impression it gave.

  5. Ok, so I got the following back from the BBC:
    Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? deals with a controversial and sensitive subject and has received a large number of comments from viewers both positive and negative. It is therefore impossible to deal with each person individually. However there have been a number of common themes which we will try to deal with here.

    We think it is fair to describe Dr Zucker as a world expert in the area of childhood gender dysphoria. His papers are some of the most frequently cited in the academic literature and he has held many prestigious positions in the field. The circumstances of and reasons for his dismissal are a matter of dispute and the subject of legal proceedings. The report about the clinic was withdrawn from the public domain. The summary of the report that remains in the public domain does not accuse Zucker of conversion or reparative therapy – indeed he strongly denies that description. The film acknowledged the controversy surrounding these issues and included the allegations of conversion therapy. It also included extensive contributions from Zucker’s critics. The debate surrounding Zucker’s methods that his dismissal has prompted is a matter of strong public interest and a suitable subject for a balanced and duly impartial documentary.

    Many people have raised the issue of the statistics regarding the proportion of children with gender dysphoria who go on to ‘desist’ from those feelings. Research into the area of gender dysphoria in young children is limited, but the research that there is into desistance among children points to high rates. Repeated studies have indicated rates of desistance of around 80%. Like many psychological studies they are limited and have certainly been criticised, but they are very widely cited in the scientific literature. The programme did not, however, present any of these issues without question. Indeed the script pointed towards ‘controversy’ and carefully framed the data. The desistance issue was also commented upon by two critics of Dr Zucker.

    We categorically deny that the programme was transphobic in any way. We included extensive interviews with transgender people and advocates for gender affirmation alongside the views of Dr Zucker and his supporters. These matters were dealt with sensitivity and sympathy. Those who took part in the film were informed about the nature of the programme and gave properly informed consent.

    Gah!!! And still they didn't explain why they used footage of Drag Queens in a programme about transgender children!!!