Paris Lees, one of UK’s most famous trans rights activists, walked out of a BBC Newsnight recording yesterday (11 August).
She was invited on to BBC Newsnight, Britain’s leading political review and debate news show, to discuss Kellie Maloney, the former boxing legend, and the impact of her coming out as a trans woman.
But then suddenly, she tweeted: ‘I’ve turned down BBC Newsnight down as I’m not prepared to enter into a fabricated debate about trans people’s right to exist/express themselves.
‘There is no “debate”. Some people are trans – I’d have been very happy to go on & talk about the simple issue of human rights for trans people.’
It is believed she had already arrived at the studio but declined to go on air when she saw the other guests. In response the BBC had to cancel the item.
Twitter exploded, with some people shocked the BBC program would use a good news story to attack transgender people.
But the BBC says they had no such plan.
The community was already concerned after anti-trans academic Sheila Jeffreys was asked to appear on BBC Radio 4 show Woman’s Hour on 7 August to discuss her new book.
In the segment, she explained without challenge how trans people ‘hurt people and society’.
Jennie Kermode, from Trans Media Watch, tweeted: ‘Shocked that #Newsnight has decided to debate whether or not trans people have a right to exist.
‘How would that go down about another group?’
The BBC, however, has a very different version of the events.
Ian Katz, the editor of Newsnight, said: ‘We invited several trans guests. Unfortunately there was concerted – and intolerant – effort to close down discussion.’
He also refuted the idea the segment was about whether trans people have a right to exist, describing the allegation as a ‘ludicrous misrepresentation’.
Katz said: ‘It was an item considering the impact of Kellie Maloney announcement on attitudes to trans people, and trans identity.’