Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Another day, another BBC complaint

     Another day, another BBC complaint. This time a story on Radio 4 about a convicted rapist who transitioned in jail. An unpleasant person, but a regrettable slip in broadcasting standards.

Yesterday the PM programme carried a piece about a rapist who has transitioned from male to female while in jail. She has completed entirely the medical process and obtained a gender recognition certificate, so she is both physically and legally female. Yet your report persistently referred to her as "He" and as "Him", and did not acknowledge at all that she is now a woman.
This is highly offensive to all transgender people because when it happens so blatantly on as respected a national broadcaster as the BBC it devalues their claim to their gender. The person in question is an extremely unpleasant criminal, yet her unpleasantness does not mean that the BBC should legitimise misgendering of transgender people. The vast majority of other transgender people who are not criminals will suffer when transphobes will use the BBC's legitimising to justify misgendering them.
Your reporters let their distaste for the individual concerned cloud their judgement when it comes to your organisation's diversity commitments towards a vulnerable minority. Their report came perilously close to hate speech, she is an unpleasant person because she is a convicted rapist and not because she is transgender. This represents a regrettable dip in standards from the BBC and from Radio 4, a station that already seems to have a problem when it comes to transgender people.
She has become a woman, and her pronouns are she and her. Please do not forget that.
I doubt it'll get anywhere. But somebody has to.


  1. You are quite correct Jenny the BBC made an appalling error.

  2. Absolutely! I missed this one as I was at a Pride planning meeting, I am usually pretty addicted to Radio 4 but some of their recent dropped standards may force me to reassess my listening.

  3. It seems unlikely to me that a reader at the BBC is making this up, so the "error" was a choice by an editor and a writer both. Quite unforgivable.

  4. Hi all,
    Yes, and it turns out I'm not the only one to complain. I will take this one as far as it is possible to go.