BBC defend decision on holding trans healthcare debate with no trans representation

BBC Newsnight has defended their decision to hold a trans healthcare debate where only cisgender people were invited to share their opinion on the subject.


The BBC has rejected complaints made over an episode of Newsnight which held a debate trans healthcare without the inclusion of any trans people.

In the episode, a number of panellists took part in a discussion around the December High Court ruling that restricts the use of puberty blockers for trans children. Panellists included presenter Emily Maitlis and Keira Bell, who is suing an NHS gender clinic over her decision to have gender-affirming surgery as a teenager, which she now regrets.

Bell argues the centre should have challenged her decision to gave gender-affirming surgery.

The CEO of charity Mermaids, Susie Green, who is cisgender, also took part in the discussion. Green is the mother of a young trans woman.

Musician and activist Katy Montgomerie, who complained about the lack of trans representation in the debate shared a screenshot of a reply she received from the BBC:

“Reply from Newsnight claiming that they don’t agree a program about trans people should have talked to at least a single trans person Imagine a program about women that didn’t talk to a single one,” she tweeted.

“I appreciate the concern you have raised but I am afraid I do not share your view that it was necessary to include a contribution from a trans person bearing in mind the scope and focus of the Newsnight coverage,” the response said.

“As you can see, due impartiality means taking account of the subject and nature of the matter under discussion when deciding which viewpoints need to be reflected.

“On this occasion, the focus was on the High Court decision and the consequences for young people receiving or waiting for, treatment with puberty blockers.

“The Editorial Guidelines make it clear the requirement was to ensure the report, and the subsequent discussion gave weight to an appropriate range of significant views and perspectives which were relevant to the High Court decision.”

Many viewers took to social media to complain about the “unsatisfactory” reply with Labour MP Wes Streeting writing:

“Disappointed to say the least. One of the great things about Newsnight’s coverage of schools has been the efforts to include the voices of experts – teachers and young people themselves – in discussions. We need to hear more from trans people about their lived experiences.”

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.