The BBC has defended its “rigorous editorial processes” after being heavily criticised for a “transphobic” article that relied on a “deeply flawed” survey conducted by a known anti-trans group.
The 26 October BBC News piece was titled “We’re being pressured into sex by some trans women” and has been widely condemned for using a survey of 80 people to claim that trans lesbians are routinely pressuring cis lesbians into sex.
Rejecting this criticism, the BBC told PinkNews that the article was about a “complex subject”, “went through our rigorous editorial process” before being published and “provides appropriate context”.
The BBC is regularly criticised for its coverage of trans people. Last year, senior MPs branded the BBC “institutionally transphobic“, while concern over the broadcaster’s stance continued this year when thousands condemned it for “uncritically platforming” anti-trans groups like the LGB Alliance and others said it is “censoring” trans issues.
At time of writing, more than 10,000 people have signed an open letter to BBC upper management and editorial staff, criticising the article for suggesting that “transgender women generally pose a risk to cisgender lesbians in great enough numbers that it is newsworthy” when the reality is this is “a matter of incredibly rare, isolated experiences”.
“The article uses a deeply flawed study that doesn’t meet BBC guidelines, and anecdotal accounts from known transphobic hate groups who actively campaign for transgender people to lose their legal recognition as their gender,” the letter, organised by grassroots group Trans Activism UK, continues.
We have written an open letter to the @BBC, regarding an article published on 26/10.
We'd like to invite everyone, trans and cis, to take a moment to read through this letter, and sign it to show solidarity to those affected by the BBC's transmisogyny. https://t.co/FooTE51sNQ
— Trans Activism UK (@TransActivismUK) October 26, 2021
One anti-trans group quoted by BBC News, Get The L Out, hijacked Pride in London in 2018 carrying placards saying “transactivists erase lesbians”, distributing leaflets opposing trans-friendly reforms to gender recognition laws and calling for trans women to be banned from women’s spaces.
BBC News also quoted the LGB Alliance, an anti-trans charity that last week held its first conference – at which attendees verbally assaulted a trans comedian. The LGB Alliance denies it is transphobic.
The letter goes on to criticise BBC News for relying on a small survey: “The article is based on a single self-selected study of 80 individuals sourced from Get The L Out, a group who, prior to the survey, were already united by anti-trans views.
“The group that was surveyed already believe transgender women are men, and should be prohibited from legal recognition as women and access to female gendered spaces out of fear that access will cause cis women to be sexually assaulted.
“This study breaks the BBC’s own guidelines about using surveys as sources for claims in coverage, as it is self-selected, with a small sample size and a clear bias held by those self-selected to respond.”
In response, a BBC spokesperson said: “The article looks at a complex subject from different perspectives and acknowledges it is difficult to assess the extent of the issue.
“It includes testimony from a range of different sources and provides appropriate context. It went through our rigorous editorial processes.
“It is important that journalism looks at issues – even where there are strongly held positions. The BBC is here to ensure debate and to make sure a wide a range of voices are heard.”
Trans charity ‘shocked’ at BBC ‘hammering down’ on ‘vulnerable minority’
Trans Media Watch (TMW), a charity dedicated to improving media coverage of trans and intersex issues, said in a statement it is “shocked” by yesterday’s BBC “report” claiming that lesbians are being pressured into sex by “some trans women”.
“We are shocked, too, to note the incredibly poor standard of BBC journalism in this piece,” the TMW statement continues.
“First, it includes, as a supposed example of trans pressure, a screenshot of a tweet from a concerned person. That tweet is responding to an image that was part of a ‘false flag’ campaign alleging that trans people considered genital preferences to be transphobic.”
Branding the BBC News article “fake news”, TMW added: “Either the BBC have failed to do due diligence on this story – or the team producing this story have knowingly colluded in a disinformation campaign targeted at trans people.”
Helen Belcher, trustee of Trans Media Watch and chair of trans advocacy organisation TransActual, added that a recent report found that “the vast majority of trans people had seen transphobia in our media, and that 70 per cent of those surveyed – over 700 in this instance – felt that media reporting impacted their mental health to some extent.
“Irresponsible reporting like this is dangerous. It significantly and adversely impacts trans people’s day-to-day lives.”