Jo Bartosch is a journalist and campaigner for the rights of women.
If you knew that a teenager was buying potentially dangerous drugs online would you send in a film crew or call social services? The BBC have made their stance clear; vulnerable kids injecting themselves with hormones is televisual content to educate, entertain and inform the nation.
Aired earlier this month, a programme called Transitioning Teens, presented by young “trans activist and influencer” Charlie Craggs, set out to meet “young trans people” who have taken the “dangerous route of using unregulated medications and starting their transitions themselves.” Earlier this year, a suspiciously similar programme entitled DIY Trans Kids, also presented by Craggs was due to be broadcast; it was pulled following backlash on social media from those concerned that the programme’s synopsis glamourised harmful practices.
Undoubtedly, the colossal rise in children and young people identifying as trans is a newsworthy topic. Rates of referral to gender identity services (GIDS) have soared over the past decade; from 138 children and teenagers in 2010/11 to 2,383 from 2020/2021. But rather than a careful examination of what might be termed a social contagion, 23-year-old Craggs makes the case for quicker access to puberty blockers, potentially sterilising cross-sex hormones, and cosmetic surgeries.
There is a passing nod to impartiality. A ‘detransitioned’ young woman is interviewed, though the meeting is prefaced with a warning from Craggs that “destransitioners are used as a stick to beat trans people with”. The case of Keira Bell is also briefly referenced: Bell has been at the centre of a legal battle about children’s ability to consent to beginning the process of sex reassignment. Bell’s ordeal included the removal of her healthy breasts and possible sterility due to the administration of puberty blockers followed by testosterone.
But the suffering of destransitioners is glossed over, presented as collateral damage, an exception to the rule that ‘teens know best.’
The BBC’s transgender activist agenda extends beyond programming. It’s on social media where the gulf between Aunty Beeb and her reluctant licence-paying nephews and nieces is most apparent.
Earlier this week, BBC Sport tweeted to its 9.3m followers that they would block those who “bring hate” to its social media pages, encouraging other users to report offending comments the “relevant authorities”.
It seems the ‘hate’ they were referring to was from people who objected to fawning coverage of Olympic weightlifter Laurel Hubbard. Touted as the “first openly transgender athlete” the BBC championed the achievements of the 43-year-old, using female pronouns throughout articles. Those who dared to suggest Hubbard’s participation in the women’s category was unfair were branded ‘hateful’ and accordingly blocked.
Whilst the observation that Hubbard is a male might lead to dropped macchiatos in BBC editorial meetings, to the wider world it is simply a statement of fact.
Not to be outdone, on Tuesday, BBC Woman’s Hour tweeted asking listeners: “What’s the best way to inform teenagers about porn? Should there be age-appropriate porn as has been suggested so they can learn about consent and what’s respectful and what’s not?”
Whilst the programme itself was relatively sober, this clickbait tweet was the final straw for many listeners who expressed their anger online.
Tanya Carter, spokeswoman for the safeguarding group Safe Schools Alliance UK, said she was “disturbed the BBC’s lack of understanding of safeguarding.” She added:
“This has been a bad week for the BBC, from their bizarre tweets about ‘age-appropriate’ porn (making no mention of the fact that showing under 18’s porn is in fact child sexual abuse), their censorship of pro-women comments on Laurel Hubbard stories to their sanitising of the sexual abuse of children by describing it as ‘having sex. We expect better from our public broadcaster.”
Having once led the world with impartial, brave public broadcasting, the BBC is now shedding support. The bludgeoning of licence fee payers with the block button, and crass attempts to re-educate a sceptical public through trans propaganda, risk turning this once respected organisation into an irrelevant laughingstock.