Trans people are heavily concerned a BBC documentary featuring trans children will be ‘blatant transphobic propaganda’.
Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?, which will air on Thursday at 9pm on BBC Two, is a This World documentary that claims to ask whether parents are ‘right’ to support their children’s gender identity.
The program information gives an interview with Dr Kenneth Zucker, who the documentary filmmakers say ‘lost his job for challenging the new orthodoxy that children know best’.
In fact, Zucker lost his job after being hit with allegations of psychological abuse against minors. The Canadian ‘doctor’ was discredited, disgraced and the gender clinic issued an apology to any person who came into contact with him.
The film will also interview someone who has detransitioned, called Lou, who represents an extremely tiny minority of transgender people.
The show will also feature the quote: ‘If your child said they were a dog, would you give them dog food?’
No information about the documentary gives any indication that a person with any credible expertise on transgender children was spoken to during production.
Gay Star News contacted the BBC and asked whether charities like Mermaids, a UK charity supporting trans children and their parents, were contacted.
Mermaids’ CEO Susanne Green told GSN she was contacted by a producer of the documentary, but only to see whether she knew of anyone who had detransitioned.
‘I asked, “why are you focusing on this angle?” It’s very, very rare. When people transition, in the vast majority, their lives become far better. They gave me a spiel about being “balanced” and showing both sides of the story,’ she said.
‘I am incredibly worried. Parents [of trans children] are incredibly worried that they’re going to be made a target again,’ she added.
‘They get a lot of prejudice in their everyday lives and this is going to make it so much worse.
‘It is irresponsible. The BBC have not thought for a second for how this will damage the lives of trans children, and their fight every day to be authentic. The negative environment will only be increased because it’s being done by a mainstream channel. People respect the BBC, and they believe them.’
Helen Belcher, of Trans Media Watch, agrees the apparent lack of balance is ‘very concerning’.
She told GSN: ‘We are trying to talk with the BBC about this program and what it actually contains. The way it is described makes it look as though it’s a one-sided presentation of a discredited doctor’s views.
‘The apparent lack of balance, even if it is only in the promotional material, is very concerning indeed, and may well already have caused harm to trans children and their families.
‘Trans people don’t suddenly become trans at 18. Most trans people will say they were aware of being trans in some way during childhood. The BBC, as the nation’s broadcaster, should not be supporting the view that there is a legitimate debate to be had over being trans.’
When the BBC spoke to Gay Star News on the phone, they admitted the promotional material was ‘not very clear’.
A BBC spokesperson added in a statement: ‘With a rise in the number of children being referred to gender clinics, this program sensitively presents different views from experts and parents on gender dysphoria in children.
‘For more than 30 years Dr Kenneth Zucker ran Canada’s biggest child gender clinic and was considered a recognized authority on childhood gender dysphoria until he lost his job. He believes he was fired for challenging the gender affirmative approach.
‘This documentary examines Zucker’s methods and includes significant contributions from his critics and supporters of gender affirmation, including transgender activists in Canada and leading medical experts as well as parents with differing experiences of gender dysphoria and gender reassignment.’
Zucker may say he believes he was fired for challenging the idea you should accept a child’s gender identity, however his former clinic made it clear it was due to the allegations of abuse.
When asked why Zucker was involved despite being discredited and disgraced, the BBC described the documentary as an ‘examination of [his views], rather than a platform’.
GSN also spoke to a parent of a transgender 15-year-old daughter, the youngest of her four children. She described her oldest, a 29-year-old cis woman, would often say when she was younger how she wished she was a boy and dressed in boy clothes. However she grew out of it in puberty and is now very feminine.
‘With my youngest, there were subtle but clear differences,’ she said. ‘She didn’t say, “I wish I was a girl.” She said, “I am a girl”. She said it very young, and it never went away. Even when she did try to socially conform, it never went away. At home, all of our kids have been allowed to express and be who they are. As they’ve grown up, they’re allowed to be themselves and they’re thriving.
‘My 15-year-old, she has no mental health issues. She’s a year ahead at school – very academically gifted, such a smart girl – and she’s very happy.’
So that is why, when she saw the BBC made the documentary, she was ‘surprised’ and ‘very annoyed’.
‘I would like to know who was behind the decision and what they are hoping to achieve from this,’ the mother said. ‘Especially from the BBC who made Boy Meets Girl. My daughter loved that show and it really helped her. To do something like this is very detrimental.
‘It’s going to give parents who are not supportive of LGBTI issues information to put into their justification. Prejudice comes from fear. And this film is going to ignite that fear.’